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MP Zac Goldsmith reflects on GM – a controlling technology

gm education

A GM Education alert led the writer to a Guardian article by MP Zac Goldsmith which attracted over 400 comments.

zacZac thought that Paterson’s remark about Golden Rice was ‘a staggering thing to say’, refuting the allegation that there have been deaths due to campaigners hindering progress, because the developers of golden rice have said that it is not even ready for commercial planting and will be assessed in the Philippines, not Europe.

He added: “commentators everywhere are wondering why hi-tech golden rice should be hailed as a solution to a problem that could be solved far more cheaply and quickly with the supply of green vegetables and cheap supplements”.

And listed a few facts:

  • Farmers who took on herbicide-tolerant GM crops are now struggling with the cost of combating herbicide-resistant “superweeds“.
  • Some 49% of US farms suffer from Roundup-resistant superweeds, a 50% increase on the year before.
  • As a result, since 1996 there has been a disproportionate increase in the use of weedkillers – in excess of 225m kg in the US.
  • Meanwhile, farmers who took on pest-resistant GM crops are struggling with the cost of secondary pests unaffected by the built-in toxins.
  • In China and India, initial savings from reduced insecticide use with Bt cotton have been eroded as secondary pests emerged.
  • Nor has GM boosted yields as promised. Indeed, in Europe, where only small amounts of GM maize are grown, yield growth of traditionally bred varieties is much faster than that of the GM-dominated midwest of the US: average yields in western Europe are now higher.

Are others favouring the technology, leaving Europe behind? GM other countries' reactions Goldsmith then points out the lobbying power of the GM industry:

“GM has been widely commercialised for nearly 20 years; more than enough time to prove itself. The industry behind it has powerful friends in the media and politics, and vast financial resources. Consider California’s vote last year on “Proposition 37”, a proposal to require labels on GM foods. The GM lobby spent $46m. Monsanto’s contribution alone was $8m, more than the entire pro-labelling campaign. Food campaigners can only dream of having that kind of influence. In truth, the reason GM never took off as predicted is because all those promises of cheap pest control, and crops that tolerate flood, salt and extreme weather, simply haven’t materialised. If they had, perhaps consumers would be willing to put niggling doubts about safety to one side. Without the success story, GM relies on hype”.

He refers to the agricultural successes of traditional biotech – which, however, does not offer high profits like the GM model that locks farmers into dependence on the giant companies – three of which control 70% of global seed sales.


Read the whole article and comments here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/24/owen-paterson-minister-gm-hype

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Recommended: the Financial Times covers PCU concerns

FT logoDavid Cameron accused of hypocrisy over lobbyist’s visits

By Jim Pickard and Kiran Stacey, July 15, 2013

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And now George Monbiot unpicks the role and funding of the the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and other think-tanks here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/15/cigarette-packaging-corporate-smokescreen-liberty

And Monbiot’s searching reflection:

But even if Crosby is sacked, the infrastructure of hidden persuasion will remain intact. Nor will it be affected by the register of lobbyists that David Cameron will announce on Tuesday, antiquated before it is launched.

Nanny state, health police, red tape, big government: these terms have been devised or popularised by corporate front groups. The companies who fund them are often ones that cause serious harm to human welfare. The front groups campaign not only against specific regulations, but also against the very principle of the democratic restraint of business.

I see the “free market thinktanks” as the most useful of these groups. Their purpose, I believe, is to invest corporate lobbying with authority . . .

 

 

 

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Guardian: Revealed: revolving door from MoD to arms industry

Senior military officers and Ministry of Defence officials have taken up more than 3,500 jobs in arms companies over the past 16 years, according to figures that reveal the extent of the “revolving door” between the public and private sector.

The data, compiled by the Guardian from freedom of information requests -read on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/15/mod-military-arms-firms