Blog Archives

Owen Paterson-fronted GM onslaught: defanged by leaked encyclical?

owen paterson on return from chinaFormer 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.

monsanto logo (3)Monsanto (renamed in Windscale damage limitation mode) plans a British HQ for its new company – if it can acquire Syngenta.

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.



Europol: unsafe counterfeit pesticides are being sold in bulk

A shameful nexus between politicians, industrialists, economists and scientists

An article by New Delhi colleague Devinder Sharma, in the Daily News [Thursday 23rd] highlights the shameful nexus between politics, industry, economists and scientists which has led to hundreds of Indian people dying from poisoning by the pesticide Endosulfan.  

We need not relax, considering this far away and irrelevant, because Endosulfan has now been banned in the European Union and many other countries; in this country other pesticides and approved medical drugs are harming human health.  

The unholy alliances Sharma mentions are seen in many countries, clearly in Britain and the USA. He writes:  

“As a nation we feel outraged if a patient dies due to a doctor’s neglect. We force the government to imprison the engineer when a bridge collapses. But we remain quiet when hundreds of people die from pesticides poisoning. 

For the past few weeks, Kerala has been witnessing an unprecedented uproar over a human disaster that a potent chemical pesticide — Endosulfan — has caused. Approved for use in cashew nut plantations, the pesticide has killed close to 1,000 people, chronically disabled more than 10,000 inhabitants with neurological disorders, paralysis and deformities, but is still being pushed for commercial application. Endosulfan was considered safe for humans and the environment by the Kerala Agricultural University and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).

”This reminds one of the Agent Orange gas used by the Americans to defoliate forest covers in the Vietnam War.  

Forty years after the war ended, an estimated 500,000 were poisoned to death, and another 650,000 continue to suffer from an array of baffling chronic diseases.
U.S. Huey helicopter spraying Agent Orange over agricultural land in Vietnam

Like Endosulfan, Agent Orange, too, was considered safe for humans. And 40 years later, none of the scientists who approved it have been persecuted nor has the company that manufactured and marketed Agent Orange been hauled up for war crimes. [Read more on Len Aldis’ website] 

”This is the accepted story of the shameful nexus between politics, industry, economists and scientists to slowly poison the current and the future generations; to usurp the natural resources in the name of development, bringing the world close to a tripping point; and to destroy millions of livelihoods in the name of free trade. While engineers and doctors are often brought to book under consumer laws, there is no legal mechanism that holds erring economists and scientists accountable. It all begins when economic policies and scientific decisions are taken in a ‘closed and opaque’ manner.

”Public sector science is now becoming subservient to private interests. Take the case of the Inter-Academy Report on GM crops prepared by the top six academies — the Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Academy of Engineering, Indian National Science Academy, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, National Academy of Medical Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.” 

The report was criticised for plagiarism by environment minister Jairam Ramesh contending that it did not “appear to be the product of rigorous scientific evaluation” and there were many other accusations that it blatantly sided with the commercial interests of the biotechnology industry.

Sharma believes that there can be no pardon for six distinguished science academies producing a report that is just a public relation exercise on behalf of the biotechnology.  

He ends by insisting that it is time to stem the rot, that this scam is much bigger than TV channels indicate and that it is destroying human lives.  

Will there ever be a worldwide disruption of the ‘unholy alliances’ between politicians, industrialists, economists and scientists – a ‘political cleanup’- and governments in the global interest established? 


Learn more:  

Pictures of affected children: