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Former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson [right] once again trots out tired myths about the virtues of genetic modification of crops.
He is said to be assisted by his brother-in-law, Viscount Matt Ridley, a genetic scientist who is a visiting professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York which has received funding from Monsanto and Novartis. His long-term support for the technology, first highlighted in a ‘civilian’ September 2012 speech at the Rothamsted Research facility, inviting GMO innovators to take root in the UK, was followed by his DEFRA appointment.
Minister Paterson, in partnership with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, financed by GM companies Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience, frequently lobbied the EU on the desirability of GM crops. Last April he refused a Freedom of Information Act request to supply details about meetings between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the GM industry trade body. He had to leave DEFRA, having extolled Britain’s shale gas reserves, ‘an unexpected and potentially huge windfall’, and mishandled the summer floods and badger culls.
He then set up a think tank UK2020. Millionaire-founded, it steers clear of direct funding from GM industries but vigorously promotes the technology at events such as last year’s South African agricultural biotechnology media conference, hosted by ISAAA which receives donations from both Monsanto and Bayer CropScience.
Murdoch’s Fox News: “the most anticipated and feared papal document in recent times”
Farming Weekly Online reports the thoughts of Pope Francis on GMOs and pesticides, voiced in the draft of this major environmental document. He has called for a “scientific and social debate” on genetically modified foods that considers all the information available. He highlighted “significant problems” with the technology that should not be minimised, such as the “development of oligopolies in the production of seeds” and a “concentration of productive land in the hands of the few” that leads to the “disappearance of small producers”.
Brian John commented: Religious leaders — of all faiths — have been very slow to enter this debate, partly because they have been put under intense diplomatic pressure by the GMO /agrichemical industries and by the US and other governments.
The GMO industry, and its acolytes, bang on all the time, quite cynically, about GMOs being needed to “feed the world” in a future full of uncertainties – nonsense of course.
The Pope’s intervention at this stage is of vast significance.
Tags: Agricultural Biotechnology Council, Bayer CropScience, DEFRA, Genetically modified foods, GM Crops, Murdoch’s Fox News, Novartis, Owen Paterson MP, Pesticides, Pope Francis, Syngenta, UK2020, Vatican, Viscount Matt Ridley, Windscale