GM feeds world? Don’t fall for spin


Did you see yesterday’s print supplement to the Guardian?

Titled Agriculture, produced by the Lyonsdown media group, it was basically a huge advert for intensive farming.

Including promoting the use of GM crops in Africa.

Warning!  Spin-alert!

Don’t fall for the propaganda even if (especially if!) it comes with an ever-so-liberal paper such as the Guardian.

It is blatantly calculated to appeal to caring Guardian-reader types.

What makes me so cross is the way Africa is used in the sales talk.

Let us get one thing straight.

There is NO GM crop being grown commercially that improves yield. The only ones being grown are designed to make intensive farming tidier.

Currently, GM plants are engineered to be resistent to pesticide-spraying.  This means when a farm sprays the field, the GM crops won’t die.

How this is supposed to help a farmer in Africa?

All it does is increase dependency on agrichemical companies. The farmers have to buy the GM seed (which cannot be saved) AND the pesticides to go with it AND the licence to use it all.

One of the authors is Professor Derek Burke known as the godfather of biotech.

He writes how organic farmers are a “wealthy lobby group” preventing GM progress.

– see pic above for evidence of  “wealthy lobby group”.

So, according to the professor, a section representing 2% 0f the UK food industry, and made up of mainly small family farms, is the only thing holding back GM world domination?

No mention of the European public which does not want GM.

No mention of the African farmers who do not want GM.

And strangely, no mention of the marketing budget of  agrichemical corporations such as Monsanto and Bayer which are aggressively pushing their risky, unproven GM technology.

I wonder what the marketing-spend is on a supplement such as the one in the Guardian?

I can’t imagine a GM company is short of a bob or two for its PR war.

24 responses to “GM feeds world? Don’t fall for spin

  1. It’s money that makes itself heard, loud and clear. We’re using megaphones, while they use the mega-media.


  2. Thank you, John, I like your pithy summing-up.


  3. Times are tough at the Guardian. Guess they need every penny they can get.


  4. elizabeth – thanks for this post
    Very informative – the guardian was the last broad sheet I kept an eye on – the coffin lid is down
    Any suggestions on where i source my spin from now on?

    Jake and I have been researching the fair trade scam – cadburys have jumped on the bandwagon as a result of favourable market prices.


  5. Hi Kieran, thanks for that.

    I would really like to help advise (least I can do for the inventive co-maker of the wondrous Mayan chocolate-making kit).

    I reckon the Independent is fairly reliable. Although too many newspapers blow hot and cold, which is confusing.

    For the lowdown on GM and other green issues, I rate the Ecologist.

    To be updated on latest on GM, visit GM Watch website (see blogroll) and join its email group – and on Twitter (search for GMWatch).

    GM Watch rocks!


  6. And would love to hear the results of your research on fair trade, and your thoughts on the scam side…


  7. We are a group here in Finland that are building/will building all kind of DIY-projects and later copyleft all the plans and drawings etc.
    That’s what our blog is about.
    Personally I am also interested in this GMO-question. So here comes why I oppose GMO:

    1) The GMO-companies has not proved that their products are safe for humans or enviroment. Not even once. Others has proved that it ain’t.

    It is a Trojan Horse, a new DDT (that blessed the world until it was banned) or thalidomide (that was a blessing to pregnant women until the storm went loose):

    “In 1962, Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson was published. The book catalogued the environmental impacts of the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the US and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health. The book suggested that DDT and other pesticides may cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was one of the signature events in the birth of the environmental movement. Silent Spring resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led to most uses of DDT being banned in the US in 1972.[4] DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention, but its limited use in disease vector control continues to this day and remains controversial.[5]”


    “In the late 50s and early 60s, more than 10,000 children in 46 countries were born with deformities such as phocomelia, as a consequence of thalidomide use.[9] The Australian obstetrician William McBride and the German pediatrician Widukind Lenz suspected a link between birth defects and the drug, and this was proved by Lenz in 1961.[10][11] McBride was later awarded a number of honours including a medal and prize money by the prestigious L’Institut de la Vie in Paris.[12]

    In the United Kingdom the drug was licensed in 1958 and, of the babies born with defects, 456 survived. The drug was withdrawn in 1961 but it wasn’t until 1968, after a long campaign by The Sunday Times newspaper, that a compensation settlement for the UK victims was reached with Distillers Company Limited.[13][14] In Germany approximately 2,500 thalidomide babies were born.[11]”

    The firm that made these pills, knew about 1600 deformed children, and still sold the medicine!

    In German:

    My answer will continue…



  8. My answer continues…

    So, the second reason why I oppose GMO, is that e.g. Monsanto sues farmers and can then blackmail money, legally through court, or as has already happened, take the land of the farmers.
    Now they also claim that they have “a patent” on pigs!!! (See the videos).

    <strong<2) Tle (il)legal and moral aspect:

    “Canadians Warn Australia about GM Canola pt 1/3:
    “Terry Boehm, the Vice President of the Canadian National Farmers Union, and Arnold Taylor, the National President of the Canadian Organic Growers Association, held a press conference in the Parliament of New South Wales on February 4th, 2008 to warn Australian farmers to keep their crops free of genetic manipulation.

    They reported on Canada’s 12-year experience of commercially growing genetically engineered (GE) canola. Terry Boehm said, “Since the introduction of GE canola in Canada, seed prices have risen dramatically and corporate control over farmers is tighter than ever before.
    There are constant threats of litigation to the extent that farmers are complying with company conditions disallowing them from saving seed rather than using their own because they are scared of being sued.”

    They reported that contamination from GE canola was inevitable, because there is no way to segregate the non-GE crops from the GE crops due to wind and insect pollination unless there was a 26-kilometer buffer zone, and that was almost impossible. They said that almost all canola in Canada is now contaminated, and Monsanto continuously sues farmers which drives them off their land.”


    Seeds of Domination – Part 1:

    The Organization for Competitive Markets is concerned America is headed toward monopoly over agriculture seeds. This would mean a monopoly on our food supply.
    One company, Monsanto, has biotechnology patent control over 80% of our corn and 90% of our soybeans. If this persists, more farmers may go bankrupt and we will have to import more of our food.


    A Silent Forest – The Growing Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees (GE/GMO) – 15:46 – Sep 14, 2008

    A SILENT FOREST: The Growing Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees (GE/GMO) This award winning documentary film explores the growing glo…all » A SILENT FOREST: The Growing Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees (GE/GMO)

    This award winning documentary film explores the growing global threat of genetically engineered trees to our environment and to human health. The film features renowned geneticist and host of PBS’ The Nature of Things David Suzuki, who explores the unknown and possibly disastrous consequences of improperly tested GE methods.
    Many scientists and activists are interviewed in the film, which serves as an effective and succinct tool for understanding the complex issue of GE trees. The film includes the testimony of many experts on the subject and serves as a valuable tool to inform students and those interested in environmental issues. The film has been well used in public forums, government as well as college and high school classrooms.

    The film includes an interview with Percy Schmeiser, who lost the rights to his own crops to Monsanto, when Monsanto seeds contaminated his fields.
    As Schmeiser says in the film: “It doesn’t matter how it gets there, destroying your crop. All of your crop, becomes Monsanto’s ownership and they can lay a lawsuit on top of it against you.
    Even if the contamination rate is 1%, all your other 99% of your crop goes to Monsanto.

    And that’s what startled the world, how farmers can lose their rights overnight, an organic farmer can lose his seeds and his rights overnight, and get subject to a lawsuit.”

    The film shows how farmers like Schmeiser and indigenous people may lose their way of life and belongings in the face of new biotech friendly science and legislation.
    A Silent Forest won first place in the EarthVision Environmental Film Festival and a First Place in the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival. The film is created by award-winning director Ed Schehl who has been making and promoting documentaries on environmentalism and social justice for 15 years.

    As new crucial forms of legislation and urgent needs for action arise, this film makes information available to the general public. You can order the “A Silent Forest” video from: Thank you.


    Controlling our food 1:


    Fox News Kills Monsanto Milk Story:


    You and your milk:


    Monsanto Patent for a Pig (Pt.1 of 5):


    Farmers’ Guide to GMOs



  9. “Fair trade scam”???
    I am all ears just sitting on the edge of my chair – waiting…

    Btw. realfoodlover, I hope you do not mind me coming here discussing this…
    I mean, our own blog is only about DIY and such and I do not want to discuss these questions there. But they are very important questions.

    I think people should think like this:
    – Every time you buy food you vote. Vote for a product. The result of the ‘every-day-election’ is precicely what you will find on the shelves of the shop tomorrow.
    That is why people needs information and why we should tackle all disinformation.
    I could open an own blog for that, but why bother, as it would take so long before anyone would read it, if ever.

    So, here I am.
    Btw. It is astonishing how many people, bloggers, “moderates” away my posts!

    I always, whenever I say/claim something, give a link or five, or a source, but I think people thinks I write to ‘lenghty and give too many links’?

    Or is it my deodorant?



  10. “Any suggestions on where i source my spin from now on?”

    Try setting up a Google News Alert for your chosen key words. The range of periodicals is amazingly comprehensive, and its easy to ignore the items that don’t smell right. Besides, it tells you what the enemy is saying.


  11. For instance, my Google News Alert for *agriculture* turned up this Reuters gem today:


  12. John, I followed the link thinking: “omigod, will it be the Guardian GM crops supplement?” when lo – the best bit of news I have heard this morning: About the growth of Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) in the US.

    I quote from John’s link to increase cheer: “There is a big new growth shoot that has taken place,” said Elizabeth Henderson of Peacework Organic Farm in New York state, author of “Sharing the Harvest.” “They finally get it — why buying from a local, family-scale farm is important,” she said.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture released figures this year showing that 12,549 U.S. farms had sold products through CSAs in 2007. It had not previously tried to count CSAs in its census of agriculture, which is conducted every five years.

    Thanks for uplifting link, John.


  13. Dear Henry

    Thank you so much for adding the info on GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) and the reasons for being very cautious indeed about this risky but dominating technology. GM is the new DDT indeed.

    Yes, what is happening to farmers such as Percy Shmeiser and Roger Nelson sued by Monsanto for growing GM crops without a licence (whether the seeds arrived by air or bees) should act as a warning to farmers everywhere.

    Thank you for the info on the A Silent Forest documentary, about GM trees. I have not heard about this film.

    I look forward to checking out your blog.


  14. Michael, good to hear from you. Thanks for your comment, in true cynical style!


  15. I did not find any “search”-box here and I am quite new on this blogging stuff.
    Just a question aside: Do you have anything about ‘Slow-food’-restaurants in your country. We have been discussing about a cafe’-typ of restarant – non-alchoholic, where there is only a few types of meal, but they will be done behind a glass wall, so that everyone can see how it is made etc. (It will take some time to make almost everything from scratch, no ‘ready-made-throuw-into-the-microwave’-stuff.)

    If you have this kind of restaurants or thoughts, how do you prevent peole from being bored?
    Maybe you can make a blogg about this?



  16. You won’t believe what Time Magazine devoted its cover article to last week:,8599,1917458-1,00.html


  17. Darling, lovely to be back on your blog. That Guardian supplement would have cost £100,000 minimum. Small change to the pro GM tech lobby for sure. Shame this is what tough times force intelligent papers to resort to…


  18. Welcome back, Mallika, what a treat. You have been in my thoughts. Thanks for approx sum, that is very interesting.

    John, thanks for that great link to Time Magazine. I just tweeted it too for good measure. It’s a breakthough….


  19. Henry, I like the idea of a restaurant with glass walls where you can see the cooking. Also, I far prefer places with only a few dishes. They give me more confidence – it is like real food. The long menus make me VERY nervous because the food must be ‘instant’, and processed.


  20. “The long menus make me VERY nervous because the food must be ‘instant’, and processed.”

    Or very, very expensive, with at least two workers in the kitchen for every diner at a table. It’s real, and it’s wonderful, buy it’s not my world.


  21. Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! Thank you for your info.And this is **environmental health** site/blog. It pretty much covers ###environmental health## related stuff.


  22. Our “Slow food” plan goes like this:
    – the restaurant is in the middle of the woods, but quite near the main road (1 km or so). It has also this “Silencio – Nature”-tagged to it. 🙂
    – It will take some time to make the dinner for the family that wants to eat. Let’s say 30 – 40 minutes.
    – There will be a free “Fairy Tale Forest” next to the restaurant. Small, about 2,5 m high houses like Red Riding Hood’s granny’s house, The Evil Witch’s House from the fairy tale of Hans and Grete, The Troll house etc. The forest will be fenced so that the children will not go astray.
    – There will be some Nature-Walking-Paths with signs telling about this and that.
    – There will be the “Romantic spot” where pairs can go and promise each other this and that. [I am a romantic old fool, you see…]
    – Later we will also build houses for handcraft people, so that the restaurant customers can take a stroll through their shops.

    The idea is, as we do not have any alcohol, as I would drink it all by myself, people does not have to stare at the walls for 30 minutes, except if they are tired (of the infant terribles 😉 ), but have something to look at instead.

    I mean, when I say that we are slow, I mean S l o w…
    I think that it is not suiting everyone, but that’s their problem. they can rush through their hollidays if they wish.

    The best thing will be, as you come eating in July, and if you order potatoes, we will go and dig up the potatoes after you have ordered. Or someone will come always now and then with a wheel-barrow (sp?) with potatoes if we have many customers at the same time.

    You see, we do not stress with the restaurant, we serve people between our daily work. As a matter of fact, we get our money from other activities, but feel that if our guests get hungry, they do not have to leave for that reason. It will be some 7 km’s to the next restaurant westward, and some 22 km’s eastward. We have more wolves and bears than restaurants, I think.



  23. food is style of living


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