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As Boris Johnson rattles his sabre and peddles unsettling fantasies, a Chinese minister refers to Britain’s track record: bringing chaos and humanitarian disaster

On Thursday there was a joint meeting between British and Australian foreign and defence ministers, who discussed closer defence and trade co-operation as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, said that Britain was stepping up its commitment to the Asia-Pacific region following its dispatch of Typhoon aircraft to Japan and South Korea last year and plans to sail two new ‘vast, colossal’ aircraft carriers through contested Asian waters at a time of rising tensions between China and the US.

Jamie Smyth in Melbourne (FT) reports that Mr Johnson repeated this claim later in Sydney: “One of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built is send them on a freedom of navigation operation to this area,”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to come into service in 2020 but HMS Prince of Wales is not due until 2023.  They are designed to support F-35 fighter jets, which the UK will not have until 2020, according to the National Audit Office.

Belief in selected tenets of the rules-based international system

Mr Johnson said the aim was to vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system – freely ignored by UK<USA and allies when bombing civilians in several regions – and the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital to world trade.

Will Boris be foreign secretary long enough to implement this  – or will he be long gone?

Euan Graham, an analyst at the Lowy Institute think-tank, said Mr Johnson’s commitment to Asian waters was unlikely to take effect until the early 2020s when the carriers would be ready to sail to the region.

The (‘blond British wombat’) foreign secretary told The Australian newspaper that legal certainty in the South China Sea was important and that Britain had a role to play in the region that would be welcomed by many: “People want the involvement of a country that sticks up for the rules-based international system, that is prepared to deploy its military in the area”.

On Friday CNN reports that Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said “certain outside countries are determined to stir up trouble” in the region. Whatever banners these countries or officials claim to uphold, and whatever excuses they claim to have, their track record of bringing chaos and humanitarian disasters through their so-called moral interventions in other parts of the world is enough to make nations and peoples in the region maintain high vigilance.”

 

 

 

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DEFRA Minister Paterson: listen to the GM contamination evidence – not the biotech companies

Megan Noble and Lawrence Woodward: “UK’s push for GM crops looks ill considered and irresponsible”.

GM wild2Does Owen Paterson – described as the biotech companies’ latest PR man – know about the recent experience of GM contamination in Oregon, Switzerland, Western Australia and other regions? The fear is that GMOs cannot be contained in the field, the food chain or even in research trials.

  • South Korea doesn’t grow genetically engineered crops but imports animal feed. It is finding GM plants growing wild in areas around major ports, factories, livestock farms and roads. The most commonly found GM species were maize (corn), cotton and rapeseed. The National Institute for Environmental Research reported that there has been a 33% increase in the level of detected GMO contamination cases in the wider environment since 2009.
  • GM canola (oilseed rape) is being spilled as it passes through the Rhine port of Basel and along Switzerland’s railway system. Bernard Nicod, a member of the executive committee of the Swiss Farmers’ Association said, “It would be hard to separate the cycle of production and distribution of conventional agriculture from that of transgenic agriculture. We are not sure we can cope with the extra costs of that kind of separation.”
  • Genetically modified (GM) wheat growing in Oregon led to Japan and South Korea banning imports of US white winter wheat. The discovery was made by the University of Oregon and forwarded on to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Neither Monsanto or the USDA has explained how the contamination occurred. See the Guardian this week.
  • Currently beset by fracking-related problems, earlier this month a local paper reported tests on genetically modified wheat in North Dakota. These are being conducted by Monsanto – following the discovery of contamination in neighbouring Oregon – under a ‘cloak of secrecy’, a local farmer said Monsanto, which owns a wheat development company based in the nearby city of Bozeman, didn’t respond to a request for comment last week. In 2010, Nature reported GM canola growing wild in the region.
  • Legal proceedings are still under way after an organic farm in Kojonup Western Australia was contaminated, in 2010, with genetically modified canola contamination. The WA government revoked Steven Marsh’s organic certification.
Lesley Docksey, in Global Research, writes:

“This constant dishonest pressure on the public from people like Paterson to accept something they do not want must stop.  It is dishonest because their ‘facts’ are at the least unproven, and at worst, untrue.  Nor do they really care about feeding the world.  If they did they’d stop the waste of so much food and ensure people had equal access to what the earth can provide.  This is all about giving the biotech companies control over the world’s food”.

Noble & Woodward conclude: “Until a solution to prevent contamination is found the answer is to stop transporting these genetically engineered crops across the world; stop feeding them to animals; and even to stop growing them”.