Tag Archives: Royal Society

GM – the more we hear, the less we like

“Waiter, will you serve me a dish of genetically modified food?”

I don’t see anyone clamouring to eat it.

Genetic modification. Such a mild-sounding term. A bit of modifying here, a bit there – what could be wrong with that?

A lot. Genetic modification is a radical departure from traditional plant breeding.

Genetic modification is about taking a gene from one species and placing it in the gene pool of another species.

And why, pray? To help feed the world, as the GM companies would have us believe?

Um, no. Commercially developed GM crops have been ‘modified’ to survive being sprayed by the GM companies’ pesticides.

GM makes spraying intensive farms easier – just spray the field and what is left standing is your genetically modified plant.

The GM companies claim that their new technology cuts down on pesticide use.

A recent report published in the US has found that growing GM plants is actually increasing pesticide use.

Meanwhile here in old Blighty, the UK’s venerable scientific institution, the Royal Society, wants to invest millions of our taxpayers’ money into researching GM.

Stop this madness! We need to be spending our money on researching systems that DO work, such as organic farming, to find out how to make them even better.

Money invested in low-tech research is pitiful compared to money sunk in magic-bullet technologies – set to make corporations even richer than they are because – here’s the rub, so listen carefully:

Once a corporation genetically modifies a seed, the corporation can patent it. It owns the seed. 

And if that GM seed should land accidentally in a farmer’s field (and seeds do travel, borne by bees, or wind) then the farmer has to pay the GM corporation a licensing fee – viz the terrible case foisted on the 70-year-old farmer, Percy Schmeiser, in Saskatchewan, in Canada. And, according to the Soil Association, hundreds like him…

This week we heard the Food Standards Agency wants another go at persuading the British public that GM is OK.

The Food Standards Agency. That’s the same outfit that published a  flawed report in August stating  the benefits of organic food are “insignificant”. As I thrive on fresh organic food, this  incensed me. My post on the FSA’s report got the most comments ever.

So anyway, as I was saying, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants another go at brainwashing the British public.

The FSA is calling it a “dialogue project”.

The way we use words, eh. Obviously ‘dialogue’ was deemed innacurate – suggesting a two-way give-and-receive exchange of views. Which it is not. It’s a project. A dialogue project.

So a steering group of academics has been assembled so consumers “can be helped to make informed choices about the food they eat.”

Only two out of the 11 members of the steering group are known to be critical of GM technology, according to the Telegraph.

In fact one of the members, Professor Bryan Wynne, signed a letter to the paper saying (I paraphrase) the dialogue project was a waste of money anyway.

I like the sound of Prof Wynne.

I remember the government-led public debate on GM, called GM Nation.

The more debaters heard about GM, the more anti-GM feeling grew: “soaring to 90%” said Geoffrey Lean in this week’s Telegraph. Back in 2003 he reported how “Many regarded the debate as “window dressing used to cover secret decisions to go ahead with GM crop development”.”

The more we hear, the less we like.