GM potato? I prefer blight-resistant beauties

I love the look of these potatoes and their healthy interesting purpleness.

They have just had their own launch in London at the sustainable London restaurant, Konstam.

Bred by the Sarvari Trust, these Sárpo potatoes are

  • blight-resistant thus reducing pesticides
  • high-yield
  • deep-rooting
  • have weed-smothering foliage
  • low-carbon footprint
  • and can be stored unrefrigerated.

Vegetable heroes, they are on the front-line of battle against the Genetic Modification industry.

Modification? Too mild a word! Manipulation would be better.

You may have heard. In March 2010, the European Union rode roughshod over the people’s wishes and approved the first GM crop in 12 years.

BASF’s GM Amflora potato carries a controversial antibiotic resistant gene which could enter the food chain.

The EU-funded pro-GM GMO Safety website says of the GM Amflora potato.

“In this potato the composition of the starch has been altered so that it is better suited for certain industrial purposes.”

Lovely. A GM industrial potato.

Crikey. It’s enough to make me want to join anti-Europe UKIP. (Only joking).

Luckily, there is an alternative.

The Avaaz petition aims to get 1 million signatures in order to officially request the European Commission to put a moratorium on the introduction of GM crops into Europe and set up an independent, ethical, scientific body to research the impact of GM crops and determine regulation.

The funding of GM science is driven by multinational agribusiness. GM is a money spinner perfectly suited to control-freaks because once a plant is genetically modified, it can be patented.

Monsanto sues farmers in North America for having unlicensed GM seeds – even if the GM seeds arrive on their fields (as seeds do) by wind, animal or insect.

Some scientists get excited about GM, genuinely believing the technology has the possibility of helping the world.

But GM science is out-of-date, based on the belief that Genes are King.

You can’t take a genetic characteristic from one organism, put it another and tra-la-la, create a GM plant in our best interests.

The Human Genome Project proved life is far more complex than that. We disturb the gene sequence at our peril.

Scientists,  if you want to explore the frontiers of life, there is plenty of mystery in the life we already have.

Defra has to decide whether to license two GM potato trials in England.

Come on Defra! Instead of putting my taxpayer money into unproven, disaster-in-the-making technology – why not put the research money into the beautiful blight-resistant purple potato?

What do you think?

10 responses to “GM potato? I prefer blight-resistant beauties

  1. I had no idea the European Union had just approved the first GM crop in 12 years – frightening. And frightening that they will not listen to people and think GM has all the answers. Thank you, again, for drawing it to my attention.

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  2. Purple all the way!! but maybe with adequate research and good intentions, GM could do some good in future. After all we have manipulated many species over centuries of farming through selective breeding.

    Pete

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  3. It is highly alarming to know that if everyone in the UK paid £8,000 to stop Monsanto, they would still have more money than us….this is the real threat, Transnationals wanting to own all the food seeds in and then Trans pharma ‘fixing’ us with their medicines. Come on lets encourage nature with nurture and promote healthy organic culture. Stop shopping at Mr Supermarket for starters and embrace grow your own, or local small markets/shops selling chemical free foods……

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  4. Richard Craven

    “Vegetable heroes, they are on the front-line of battle against the Genetic Modification industry.
    Modification? Too mild a word! Manipulation would be better.”

    You can call it ‘manipulation’ if you like, Elizabeth. But using loaded terminology – or terminology which you use just because you think it is loaded in your favour, does not strengthen your anti-gm case.

    “You may have heard. In March 2010, the European Union rode roughshod over the people’s wishes and approved the first GM crop in 12 years.”

    This implies, firstly that the EU overrode the wishes of substantially all of its citizens; secondly that the EU should never override the wishes of its citizens. Neither of these implications is true. Firstly, many people believe that GM has the potential to be of great benefit to humanity and nature. Secondly, if the EU always acceded to the wishes of its citizens, then absurd and rebarbative consequences would ensue. For instance, in the UK. polling consistently shows support for the death penalty at levels of about 65%. On the reasonable assumption that this pattern is replicated across the EU, then your position commits you to an EU-wide death penalty. Perhaps you are comfortable with such a commitment, but I am not. Therefore, I believe that it is sometimes quite proper for the EU to override the wishes of its citizens.

    “The EU-funded pro-GM GMO Safety website says of the GM Amflora potato.
    ‘In this potato the composition of the starch has been altered so that it is better suited for certain industrial purposes.’
    Lovely. A GM industrial potato.”

    Here, I take it that you are being sarcastic, your underlying assumption being that anything with industrial applications is inherently immoral. This assumption, based on nothing more than a shallow play upon words, is anyway not tenable.

    ” The funding of GM science is driven by multinational agribusiness. GM is a money spinner perfectly suited to control-freaks because once a plant is genetically modified, it can be patented.”

    On your – highly contentious – assumption that all agribusiness is a bad thing, these two sentences amount to an argument that, far from instituting a moratorium on GM r&d, it should as a matter of urgency be brought within the purview of sovereign governments. I don’t think I buy this. However, I do accept that patent law needs to be modified, if it hasn’t ALREADY been modified. But again, this needs to be done solely in order to sustain GM r&d without allowing agribusinesses to pursue unacceptable business models.

    “Monsanto sues farmers in North America for having unlicensed GM seeds – even if the GM seeds arrive on their fields (as seeds do) by wind, animal or insect.”

    Here, you provided a link to a report which is five years old. Your post implies that the situation is ongoing, whereas I am pretty sure that Monsanto got into a lot of trouble at the time for doing this, and stopped doing it. Again, this is an example of you using the dubious business model of one company as a pretext for urging a moratorium on all GM r&d whatsoever; which is absurd and, given that what is at stake is famine and its avoidance, NOT A GOOD THING TO DO.

    “Some scientists get excited about GM, genuinely believing the technology has the possibility of helping the world.”

    True!!! And why do you think that, being scientists, they get so excited?

    “But GM science is out-of-date, based on the belief that Genes are King.”

    This is not just untrue, it’s manifestly absurd. Firstly, as anyone will tell you, GM science, represents cutting-edge research. Secondly, scientists don’t think genes are king; they just thing that GM science has some potentially fruitful applications in the battle against disease and famine.

    “You can’t take a genetic characteristic from one organism, put it another and tra-la-la, create a GM plant in our best interests.”

    This is not true. Nobody claims that GM science is a straightforward or ‘tra-la-la’ process. But all the indications are that, in many cases, you CAN take a genetic characteristic from one organism, put it in another, and create a GM plant in our best interests.

    “The human genome project proved life is far more complex than that. We disturb the gene sequence at our peril.”

    The human genome project proved that life was more complex than what?? It mapped the human genome, and certainly showed it to be complex. However, it did NOT prove that we disturb the gene sequence at our peril.

    “Scientists, if you want to explore the frontiers of life, there is plenty of mystery in the life we already have.”

    Pure biologists ‘explore the mysteries of life’. Practical biologists confine themselves to the practical applications of science, including its benefits. One would have thought it quite natural for the latter sort of biologist to investigate the practical applications of GM. One would also have thought that there was ample scope for pure biologists to pursue their researches in relation to GM, given its cutting-edge nature.

    “Defra has to decide whether to license two GM potato trials in England.

    “Come on Defra! Instead of putting my taxpayer money into unproven, disaster-in-the-making technology – why not put the research money into the beautiful blight-resistant purple potato?”

    It’s my taxpayer money too, and I applaud the fact that Defra are spending it on research which, on the face of it, promises to deliver lasting benefits to agriculture, most particularly in the third world.

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    • Hi Richard. I am a working gal so can’t reply to all your points right now. Just two for starters and I will return.

      1. Re. your point that my calling GM technology ‘manipulation’ of genes (instead of ‘modification’) was loaded in my favour, I answer:

      Yes. I agree.

      By using the word ‘manipulation’ I was suggesting the word ‘modification’ is also loaded.

      But in the other direction, towards innocuous blandness.

      By using the word ‘manipulation’ I was playing the same linguistic game.

      <a href="“>This book has a good analysis of the GM discourse.

      2. Thank you for clicking on the link and checking out my references – that’s the beauty of blogs.

      Thanks for pointing out I used a 2005 reference to illustrate my point that Monsanto sues farmers for having unlicensed seeds on their land (however they arrive).

      Monsanto’s website explains why it was right to have sued Percy Schmeiser, a 70-year-old Canadian farmer for having GM seeds on his land.

      The report was updated July 2009.

      Bye for now

      Elisabeth

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  5. “…many people believe that GM has the potential to be of great benefit to humanity and nature.” If you amend that to say “Monsanto and a few other corporations believe that GM has the potential to create lots of profits,” you’d be a lot closer to what a lot of people believe.

    The fact that this guy has the time and energy to post such a long response makes me suspect he is paid to have these opinions. Just a suspicion, of course.

    And I’m a taxpayer and a gardener totally opposed to GMO. ‘Nuff said.

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  6. Elisabeth – this is indeed horrific news when I think of all the hard work so many put into banning GM a decade ago.

    Peter – GM is not the same as selective breeding. Similar results can be obtained using good old recurrent mass selection – ask Dr Raoul Robinson who’s been breeding potatoes for 50 years.

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  7. i guess we are all going to eat GM foods sooner or later, only them can keep up with the population and the polutions.

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  8. Coming back to Richards point, do you really think Monsanto-s intention is to help the third world? I would probably put it closer to extortion. They haven-t exactly got a good track record! see biopiracy in India!

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13820

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  9. To add:

    BASF sponsored the Economist’s online debate on biotechnology .

    The motion was: “This house believes that biotechnology and sustainable agriculture are complementary, not contradictory”

    I thought that was a deliberately tricky motion, designed to turn those who of us who are positively FOR agroecology into horrid No-people. Plus I thought the motion was potentially confusing.

    However, despite this lack of clarity, the debate was won overwhelmingly by the TRUE supporters of sustainable agriculture/agroecology.

    62% voted no, GM is NOT complementary with sustainable agriculture
    38% voted yes.

    The comments from people including scientists and farmers who are deeply concerned about the destructive effects of biotechnology on farming are well-worth reading.

    The proposer’s remarks used fear-driven population stats to scare us into GM-submission. However as I outline in another post, the driver for increased food production is the cattle-feed industry.

    There is enough food to go round.

    What needs attention is distribution, not unproven, risky biotechnology that only profits the GM patent-holders.

    And you have to ask if over-population is inevitable. Apparently globally, women (including in poor countries) are having less children than their mothers, according to Fred Pearce.

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