The question of GM foods is a hot topic again. It has been brought to the fore by discussion of a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a proposed trade agreement between the USA and Europe. This agreement is in keeping with the ultra-conservative economic outlook of neo-liberalism. The tension rose by quite a few notches when the EU approved legislation allowing member states to grow GM crops.
A GM crop, maize was grown in Europe for animal feed purposes. A potato was introduced but was later withdrawn as it was blocked from gaining Europe wide approval. (BBC 14/1/15) A final decision awaits as pressure mounts on the EU ministers to comply with USA wishes.
The power of big business is smeared all over this decision, described as “…a deceitful, messy and unprincipled compromise”. www.theecologist.org/News/ If a member state
(EU) decides not to grow a GM crop the company can take that nation to court. These Multi-National Corporations (MNC’s) are multi- billion dollar businesses and thus can afford the best legal brains, as well as the money to contest the decision.
Case: Bayer and Syngenta are in court fighting the decision by the EU to ban the bee killing ‘neonic’. I am not convinced democracy is safe. www.action.somofus.org
America’s MNC’s are poised to flood the European market with their seeds/plants. GM crops are already grown and on sale in America and parts of Asia. A problem for Europe is that it is far behind in research and therefore may become dependent on the MNC’s for their entire product. Of the largest 500 MNC’s 88% are American. David Farnham Human Resource Management
My anxiety is raised by a dispute between Testbiotech and Grace. Grace is an EU research programme dealing with GM crops. The study in question is one carried out by Grace, a 90 day feeding assessment on animals. Grace assures us that the study found nothing to be alarmed about but Testbiotech think differently.
The study over a period of 90 days sought to determine whether feeding GM maize had any adverse effect. The conclusion was that if maize constitutes 33% of the animal’s diet there is no problem. However, I have a few questions that need answered before I can feel assured.
Is 90 days a sufficient period to understand fully the gestation of the animal from consumption to the cowpat?
- Is there any possibility of residual matter remaining in the animal’s gut?
Even at miniscule levels residuals can build up over time. It’s like dust on a mantelpiece, you don’t see the tiny specks but after a while you can run your finger through the dust. Therefore I don’t accept that a 90 day period is sufficiently exhaustive to assure me that I can eat the resultant beef or lamb etc. I am not convinced GM crops are safe.
Furthermore, I am concerned that the Grace study limited the animal feed to 33% of the animal’s diet. What measures will be taken to ensure that such a percentage of feed will be adhered too? We all know that business cuts corners to maximize profits and, that many animals can and are penned because it’s cheaper and helps to fatten the animal. Therefore, many animals can and will be fed a diet of 100% of GM maize. What would be the effect on the animal in such circumstances?
Of real concern is that Grace can openly state that while there has been many studies carried out on GM crops the evidence is, “…contradictory and the quality of research varies widely”. Moreover, “Overall, it’s true, drug company trials are much more likely to produce a positive outcome for their own research”. Ben Goldacre Bad Science p205 I am not convinced I’m being told the truth.
What also worries me is that EU ministers have okayed Du Pont Pioneer’s Supercorn (maize) despite concerns of the effects on wildlife such as moths and butterflies. What other wildlife can be affected? (Guardian 13/1/15) Another question, what will be the affect when all our arable land is planted with GM crops? I am not convinced the environment is safe.
A political battle is brewing and ordinary Joes must be participants if we are to defeat the big boys in their attempt to control agriculture world -wide. This statement may seem a little OTT but the MNC’s: Du Pont, Monsanto, Bayer etc. by controlling the development and the sale of seed/plants they control what is sown and harvested. Ultimately what we eat. It is not hyperbole to suggest that these huge conglomerates can place a strangle-hold on the agricultural market. Once established it is a small step to the corruption of trade practices and in consequence the setting up of a cartel. History illustrates that such a manoeuvre in business is quite common. I am not convinced business can be trusted.
Nonetheless, it is heartening that some countries in the EU have a ban on GM crops, e.g. France and Hungary. However, the government in England support the introduction of GM crops. This in part is due to the powerful Lobbying of the industry. (Daily Mail 13/1/15) It would appear that business will not take no for an answer; they lobby to get ministers agreement but threaten court action if a government dare refuse them. I am not convinced democracy is safe.
In the UK both Scotland and Wales have a ban in place which they seem likely to maintain. Thus GM crops will only be grown in England. However, a problem arises on the question of border contamination (Friends of the Earth). We have no control over the wind or where wildlife may roam. The other dilemma is that once the GM is used the spread will become automatic as the industry will make it cheaper to produce in the first instance to entice farmers and consumers. MNC’s are “able to exploit their market positions and power to achieve greater economies of scale in production”. David Farnham ibid
It is akin to the national lottery UK, whereby in the early days the pay-outs were huge, the cost relative and thousands had several little wins (£10 / $15). Now the price has doubled and the pay-outs much smaller and no one talks of little wins.
Those in favour of the GM crop, www.farminguk.com suggest that there are two varieties of Roundup Ready maize poised for planting as soon as the go-ahead is given. The site quotes government minister, Owen Paterson, it’s a “wonderful opportunity”. Paterson goes on to suggest that GM crops are safer than conventionally produced crops. If Paterson is so convinced, why doesn’t he do something about the poor quality of our food? At least bring it to the peoples’ attention. I am not convinced MP’s listen.
In 1990, a compatriot of his, Tory minister John Gummer made a spectacle of himself by trying to feed his young daughter a beef burger at the height of the Mad Cow’s Disease scandal. I am not convinced my food is safe.
Even more stridently in favour is www.forbes.com (13/1/15) who advises President Obama to dismiss fears about health, the environment and labour as well as market fears about the TPP. Oh, to be so absolutely free of doubt on so many issues. On the other hand one could say, oh, how callous of Forbes to dismiss peoples’ anxieties just to make a profit. I am not convinced when profit feeds their lust.
Unbeknown to us, we may already be eating GM food. Once again we may be getting used as guinea pigs. Once again history is littered by mad science, thalidomide being one of the nastiest. Also, in 2011 in Germany 19 people died in an E.coli outbreak caused by a lax in farming methods. Mad cow’s disease and more recently, 2013, the use of horsemeat in processed food sold as beef and lamb. I am not convinced business can be trusted.
Moreover, of GM crops produced: soybeans 59%; the EU imports 40 million tonnes for animal feed. Of course we eat the animals. Feeling queasy? Rapeseed grown extensively in Canada is used in cooking oil and margarine. Cotton seeds are found in many food products. Are we being treated as ubiquitous morons? www.gmo-compass.org “Big pharma is evil: I would agree with that premise”. Ben Goldacre, op. cit.
I only wish I had the techno skills to begin a campaign on twitter etc.
#I am not convinced…………
I am not convinced GM crops are safe
I am not convinced the environment is safe
I am not convinced business can be trusted
I am not convinced when truth is muted
I am not convinced MP’s listen
I am not convinced democracy is safe
I am not convinced Europe works for me
I am not convinced my choices are free.
Eat well, but carefully. The struggle has just begun.