Will agri-business be allowed to charge ahead, imposing genetically modified food on an unwilling public?
The work is publicly funded through a £696,000 grant from the government’s UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and $294,000 from the US Department of Agriculture. Other partners include the universities of Lancaster and Illinois.
UK Food Group Chair asks if The Observer/Guardian is now joining the quislings, collaborating with powerful industrial interests (Monsanto etc)
John Mulholland’s hackneyed article strings together a series of ‘feed the world’ myths ‘busted’ a thousand times by reputable academics*.
The scourge of hunger has almost nothing to do with food production per se – it’s a problem of redistribution, rights and reduction of waste
Working in Kamayoq in Peru at the moment, “where there is such strong defence of good food and local control”, Patrick Mulvany, chair of the UK Food Group, once more dispels these misconceptions ardently promoted by the Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer etc.
He writes to Mulholland:
The scourge of hunger has almost nothing to do with food production per se – it’s a problem of redistribution, rights and reduction of waste. GM crops have almost nothing to do with productivity and produce mainly industrial commodities – animal feed, agrofuels and fibre – not food.
So, on what basis can your editor assert that GM crops will solve the problem of hunger?
As many of your readers will know, UK plc’s AgriTech business strategy, pushed by BIS and implemented by the BBSRC (the UK’s biotech science funder), is to export proprietary British technology that will deliver returns through patents and the sale of scientific know-how with biotechnological and chemical input packages of benefit to the UK – the only technologies that the UK now has expertise in, having lost most of its capacity to do research that supports real food production.
To achieve their strategy, government, the scientific establishment and agro-biotech industry need to have a testbed in a UK that permits the release of GM crops, for which, as government and retailers well know, there is no consumer demand.
Multinational corporations have their eye on controlling the world’s industrial commodity production system
Once legalised, it will also open the floodgates to US GM crops – with the collateral advantage to powerful industrial interests of easing the entry of US GM technologies into the EU.
Those who feed most people in the world, the smallholder farmers, livestock keepers, artisanal fishers and other small-scale food providers, have the solution – developed in their framework of food sovereignty – to the problem posed in your editorial.
Supporting localised food regimes will secure future food. Industrial commodity production will trash it.
From where I am here in Cuzco, Peru, a region that has legally rejected GM crops in favour of supporting local campesinos’ production of biodiverse foods produced ecologically, your editorial appears insular – the views of a little Englander – and rather farcical if there were not a darker side to it.
Is The Observer/Guardian now joining the quislings who are collaborating with powerful industrial interests, which are set to undermine and contaminate the world’s efficient, effective, biodiverse and ecological food systems, so that their proprietary technologies dominate globally?
The GMO Myths and Truths report: one of many rebuttals.
Scottish farmer: GMs will totally undermine the integrity of our livestock vegetable and cereal farming
Tom Douglas of Glendearg Farm, Galashiels, writes in the Scottish Farmer this week:
My GM opposition continues for reasons of monopolisation of our life essentials by organisations I would not trust and the weak government control over them.
It is apparent that the UK government and Owen Paterson value Monsanto more than the considerations of the electorate and that of our biggest trading partner the EU.
A GM Education alert led the writer to a Guardian article by MP Zac Goldsmith which attracted over 400 comments.
Zac 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.
“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