From: John Cunnington <devalts@...
Subject: Fw: Joanna Blythman "...a hard core of pro-GM evangelists
won’t accept the democratic opinion"
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2012 06:27:49 +0100 (BST)
The media coverage of the expensive trial at Rothamsted Research of GM
wheat, that has a synthetic gene blasted into its genome, has paraded
the assertions of pro-GM scientists and acolytes about supposed
'benefits' whilst remaining silent on costs, risks and rejection of
the technology that threatens global food production. Joanna Blythman,
below, exposes the flaws:
"Increasingly, GM looks like a discredited technology, one that is
being superceded by skilled conventional plant-breeding methods and
more advanced but less arrogant scientific approaches...
Unfortunately, a hard core of pro-GM evangelists won’t accept the
democratic opinion and take no for an answer. They are determined to
ram GM down our throats, whether we like it or not.
... when independent scientists produce research that demonstrates the
dangers of this inherently risky technology, their results are
rubbished by the GM bully boys ... the pro-GM fanatics, who just can’t
accept that they preside over a losing, discredited cause."
In contrast, the majority food system, based on biodiversity and food
sovereignty, is resilient and can feed us all for ever. We need to
work with those in the front line of defense of our food.
For more, see the new, informative and rooted film "Seeds of Freedom"
. It will be released internationally on 12
Article below (pics can be viewed on url):
Vandals! No, not protesters trashing crops but the GM lobby still
trying to force increasingly discredited Frankenstein Food down our
By Joanna Blythman
Genetic modification was supposed to be the ground-breaking science of
the future. Its magic wand would feed the world and make toxic
pesticides redundant. But, in reality, it has dismally failed to live
up to the expectations of its cheerleaders. The high crop yields the
GM lobbyists promised us just haven’t happened. Farmers are having to
use more pesticide, not less, on their GM crops.
Thanks to GM, vigorous new superweeds stalk the fields in countries
such as the U.S., where controversial GM crops have been forced onto
the market — against the wishes of citizens — at the behest of
What’s more, we now have evidence that GM crops can cross-pollinate
with non-GM crops, contaminating land for miles around.
Mercifully, in the UK and throughout Europe, GM ingredients in foods
must be labelled by law. Concerned consumers have made it clear in
poll after poll that they do not want to eat GM food.
And since no one wants to buy products with GM ingredients,
retailers have refused to stock them. Unfortunately, a hard core of
pro-GM evangelists won’t accept the democratic opinion and take no for
an answer. They are determined to ram GM down our throats, whether we
like it or not. And this is what lies at the heart of the reckless
open-air experiment with GM wheat being conducted near Harpenden,
Herts, where a once-respected scientific institute, Rothamsted
Research, has become a centre for this bankrupt technology.
This research station has used an astute PR campaign to convince us
that this experiment is just harmless ‘research’. But in using our
countryside as an open-air laboratory, this trial could trigger dire
and irreversible consequences for other crops and species.
The GM lobby has attempted to characterise anyone who dares to
challenge its right to endanger farmers’ fields neighbouring
Rothamsted as ‘witless vandals’, ‘zealots impervious to scientific
reasoning’ and, even more ludicrously, by likening them to
The hysteria of the language reflects only the weakness of the pro-GM
case, and after this weekend it looked deliberately misleading. The
good-humoured crowd of 400 peaceful protesters who turned up on Sunday
to register their opposition to this provocative experiment, was akin
to that of a village fete and bore no resemblance to a gang of thugs.
These were not the fanatics of green activism so luridly portrayed in
GM propaganda, but rather ordinary farmers and concerned citizens who
recognise the appalling damage that could result from GM contaminating
the food chain in Britain. Such a situation would not only alarm the
public but also spell economic ruin for our agriculture, since
opposition to GM technology is so powerful throughout the world.
The pro-GM lobby behaves as though it alone understands science, and
portrays the rest of us as morons wallowing in simple-minded ignorance
and prejudice. Even when independent scientists produce research that
demonstrates the dangers of this inherently risky technology, their
results are rubbished by the GM bully boys.
Research in Switzerland has shown that some GM wheat varieties have
sprung up almost two miles away from where they were grown in trials
and that, in the field, they cross-pollinate six times more than
Just as worryingly, in the United States, trials of genetically
modified rice ended up contaminating the nation’s entire rice crop,
with disastrous results for U.S. farmers whose sales were hit on a
global market which shuns GM crops. When this technology was developed
in the late 1990s, the GM pioneers argued that all the public’s fears
about it were baseless.
But it has hardly worked out like that. Studies in 2011 in Canada
revealed traces of pesticides that had been implanted into crops using
GM techniques were present in the umbilical blood of 83 per cent of
pregnant mothers who were tested. The GM industry had always argued
that if these GM toxins — designed to kill crop pests — were eaten by
humans, they would be destroyed in the gut and rendered harmless. But
the fact that they had reached umbilical blood meant not only that
they survived the gut but could pass across the placenta to the
growing foetus. The Canadian research team warned: ‘Given the
potential toxicity of these pollutants and the fragility of the
foetus, more studies are needed.’
The threat to animals is just as worrying, for a number of trials show
kidney, liver and reproductive damage in animals fed GM foodstuffs.
There is also growing evidence that herbicides used on genetically
modified crops could increase resistance in more than 20 different
types of weeds. The fact is that, for all the blithe rhetoric of the
GM companies, we simply do not know enough about the potential
consequences of tampering with nature.
The risks involved in genetically modified crops are compounded by the
failure to deliver their promised benefits. In India, there is deep
bitterness among cotton farmers who were encouraged to buy GM seeds on
the basis that they would raise yields and reduce the need for costly
pesticides. Yet the yields have been severely disappointing, with the
result that many Indian farmers have been driven into debt.
So widespread is the despair that, today, one Indian farmer commits
suicide every half hour — and there is every possibility that the
false promise of GM is a contributing factor. At Rothamsted, the GM
wheat grows daily in our sunny weather now that the weekend’s
protesters have been rebuffed, and the risk of unintended cross
pollination remains. But hard questions need answering where this
misguided GM wheat trial is concerned.
Rothamsted Research is backed by more than £1million of taxpayers’
money, while the bill for the unprecedented security around the site
defending this unpopular experiment — also funded from the public
purse — must also be considerable. The aim of the trial, says the
company, is to find out if the GM crops can repel insects such as
greenfly and blackfly and thereby reduce the future use of pesticides.
But UK farmers rarely grow the spring wheat used in the trial and
already have other well-established ways of controlling aphids. Why
should UK taxpayers fund a trial for a product that farmers don’t need
and consumers won’t eat? Increasingly, GM looks like a discredited
technology, one that is being superceded by skilled conventional
plant-breeding methods and more advanced but less arrogant scientific
One of these, called Marker Assisted Selection, focuses on using the
best genes in a crop for an intense programme of crossbreeding to
enhance its future productivity. This means working with the grain of
nature rather than challenging or distorting it, as happens with GM.
The GM companies might condemn their opponents as vandals, yet they
are the ones who show the real irresponsibility towards the natural
world. That, after all, is the lesson of the GM saga so far. The
experience of GM-contamination incidents, involving long-grain rice in
the U.S. and flax in Canada, shows that GM companies refuse to accept
liability for their products and are extremely reluctant to compensate
farmers and companies in the food chain, without court action
compelling them to pay up.
So if contamination does occur in fields around the Harpenden wheat
trial site, or even further afield, can we assume that Rothamsted
Research will compensate those left to carry the can — farmers with
contaminated fields, millers with GM residues in their flour or
manufacturers who have to pay for expensive tests to establish that
their products are GM-free? Of course not. Any recompense seems
unlikely, since Rothamsted Research has already shown a cavalier
disregard for both environmental safety and democracy. And if there is
no compensation, you can be sure no insurance company would be
prepared to cover farmers near the site against GM contamination, when
the risk of that contamination is so clearly present.
The real bullies here are not those who oppose this deeply unpopular,
risky and unnecessary technology, but the pro-GM fanatics, who just
can’t accept that they preside over a losing, discredited cause.
Joanna Blythman is the author of What To Eat, published by Fourth