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
In the US corporate tradition: Rebecca Mark was said to have ‘educated’ Indian decision-makers about Enron, with $60 million.
Britain’s special friend recently updated an ‘educational’ Food Biotechnology document.
It was produced ‘under a partnering agreement’ between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation.
Its mission: “to provide vital information to communicators on food biotechnology”.
Note that, rather than referring to GMOs or genetic engineering the preferred terminology is now “biotechnology”. This report goes further, elaborating on the use of language to manipulate the undecided and giving a useful chart (below).
Words to use, words to lose
This vital information to communicators on food biotechnology, to all hoping to advance the growing of GM crops, would include IFIC’s funders, in particular: Bayer CropScience, Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Tate & Lyle and Unilever.
This chart, which is more clearly reproduced on page 12 of the document, is followed by a note: “To communicate with impact . . . your words must be uniquely yours. The intent of these lists is to raise your awareness of words that have been found to evoke negative or positive reactions from consumers. Although Words to Lose may sometimes be necessary, an understanding of their potential impact on certain groups will aid in more productive conversations with those groups”.
The ‘Hidden Persuaders’ . . .
Next: A ‘full-frontal’ attack on NGOs which oppose the growing of GM crops as presently developed
Tags: Bayer CropScience, Cargill, Dow AgroSciences, Dupont, Enron, Food biotechnology, GM Crops, IFIC, International Food Information Council, Monsanto, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Tate & Lyle, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, United States Department of Agriculture, USForeign Agricultural Service
Anthony sent a lead to a press release recording an official complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about missing and redacted documents showing the GM industry’s influence over the Government’s policy and media strategy on genetically modified crops and foods.
NGO GeneWatch spent a year trying to obtain documents showing the extensive government contacts between the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC).
In 2010 there were several passing references on this site to ABC and its chairman Dr Julian Little – previous experience in Rhone-Poulenc, Aventis and Bayer CropScience – see Vested interests fight back .
In 2012 Chemical Concerns recorded the report by David Burrows in the Farmers Guardian that the Government had reacted angrily to claims it is brokering ‘secret deals’ with biotechnology companies to push genetically modified (GM) foods. These were founded on information in a document, obtained through Freedom of Information, which is linked to a meeting between various biotechnology companies, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), Science Minister David Willetts and then Defra Minister Lord Taylor.
A summary of notes highlighted the need for, among other things, ‘increased investment in biotech’ and the ‘start of a public debate about the role of biotech’.
“The public have a right to know what is going on behind closed doors”
GeneWatch made an official complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office about missing and redacted documents showing the GM industry’s influence over the Government’s policy and media strategy on genetically modified (GM) crops and foods. Details are given of the documents, which include minutes of meetings, phone calls and action points for officials:
Do the redacted documents suggest that the Government is colluding with the GM industry to manipulate the media, undermine access to GM-free-fed meat and dairy products and plot the return of GM crops to Britain?
Tags: Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), Aventis, Bayer CropScience, Department of Food Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), Dr Julian Little, GeneWatch, GM industry, GM-free-fed meat, Information Commissioner’s Office, Redacted documents, Rhone-Poulenc, Secret deals