East Midlands Green Party Blog

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Genetically Modified Futures?

A blog post by Mike Shipley of Derbyshire Greens regarding his thoughts on the politics of GM food :

Tories are pushing the EU to accept Genetic Modification

The Tories are at it again, putting corporate interests ahead of  public well-being.  This time it is Owen Patterson, the Agriculture Minister, who is acting in the interests of the big Agrochemical companies who want to launch GM crops onto the European market.  The EU takes a cautious approach to GM, with some countries maintaining an outright ban.  The Conservative Party in the UK  has been working for years behind the scenes to try to get GM crops accepted using its MEP’s to do all they can to weaken the regulation of GM products from the EU.

Why are they doing this, in the face of public opposition and unease among the farming community? Simply for profit.  If GM is launched in Europe the stock of the big GM players will soar, anyone with investments in those companies will reap a rich harvest of dividends.  But more than that, if GM crops become the standard crop it will mean that big, private corporate interests will control the whole human food chain from seed to plate. They will be able in time to take a profit from every meal served no matter how humble it may be.

Patterson says that he wants the UK to go all out for GM crops so as ‘not to be left behind’.  Left behind in what?  The race to make fat cats fatter? If he is worried about UK Science trailing the world he might do better to argue for more science funding and more support for UK students.  He might argue for more investment into research in to conventional plant breeding and sustainable agriculture in a changing world.  Now that would be really useful, but it wouldn’t make fast bucks for the Agro-chem giants.  That is what GM is all about.

GM is a flawed technology because its true purpose is hidden behind a wall of false claims. We are told that we have to have GM to increase yields in a hungry world.  Yet the US Department of Agriculture admits that GM crops do not increase yield.  People go hungry because of economic mismanagement not because of a lack of food productivity. In reporting on the potential of GM technology, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology concluded that GM can’t feed the world.  The concern is that the push for GM is weakening the ability of countries to increase food production.  In India many states are cancelling licences for GM crops, they have made rural poverty worse driving many small farmers, the main-stay of any countries food production, out of business.

We are led to believe that GM crops cut pesticide and herbicide use.  Not true, in the US, herbicide use on GM crops is up by one third compared to conventional crops. Furthermore, this heavy use is leading to the emergence of ‘super-weeds’ that are resistant to the herbicides.

We are told that GM crops have no impact on biodiversity.  Not true.  Contrary to what the GM Companies claim, non-pest insect species are killed by the GM toxins.

We are told that GM food is safe, the truth is that the work to prove this simply has  not been done.  Rather than carrying out controlled and peer reviewed safety trials, the GM companies are spending millions on lobbying to get food safety regulations weakened.

And we are told that American consumers love GM.  That’s simply because they don’t know that they are eating it.  The GM Companies have fought all attempts to introduce labelling regulations for foods containing GM products.

But none of these arguments cuts any ice with Paterson.  In fact he dismisses them all as ‘humbug’ and he is determined to push for the entry of GM into UK agriculture by pressurising the EU to lower regulatory standards.  But for the greater good of the global population, these arguments plus the true economic impact of GM, need answering.  To resist the pressure that will be applied to the EU by the well financed GM lobby we need more Greens in the European Parliament. Green   MEP’s who are capable of looking beyond the lobbyists hype and see the wider interests of the people they represent and of the global population. Green MEP’s who will ask the awkward questions and demand answers. Green MEP’s who will stand up to corporate bullying.  In June 2014 we will have the opportunity to send more Green MEP’s to the European Parliament. Take that opportunity.