Misleading claims and lies abound in Matt Ridley’s latest offering
The Times of London has published an article Biblically titled, “The argument’s over. Let GM crops flourish” (behind paywall here). The article claims, against all good evidence, that GM crops are “safer, cheaper and greener” and exults in the prospect that they could be grown in England soon.
The article is by Matt Ridley, climate denier, brother-in-law of the discredited former UK environment minister Owen Paterson, and the man who presided over the bankruptcy of the Northern Rock bank.
The article contains many misleading claims and lies, such as:
* If Europe had adopted [GM] crops 15 years ago, rape farmers would be spraying far less pyrethroid or neo-nicotinoid insecticides to control flea beetles, so there would be far less risk to bees (GM and non-GM seeds alike are coated in neonicotinoid pesticides, a practice which apparently took off after Bt maize was introduced, in order to control the pests that the Bt fails to control)
* GM crops have reduced pesticide use and increased crop yields (based on a dubious paper by the German GMO promoter Matin Qaim, which largely references his own controversial papers. In reality GM crops have increased pesticide use by 7% and have not increased yields – they are not designed to do so)
* GM provides a solution to potato blight (no GM blight-resistant potatoes are available; non-GM blight-resistant potatoes have long been available; and those genetically engineering the GM potatoes pirated the blight-resistant genes from the existing non-GM potatoes!).
The article does, however, contain the interesting theory that the GMO “opt-out” legislation currently making its way through the European Parliament is the brainchild of Owen Paterson in cahoots with Spain, a country that has already gone down the GM route, ruined its organic and non-GMO maize industry, and now has to defend its own bad decisions. This seems a plausible theory, as the legislation will imperil Europe’s largely GMO-free agriculture and act as a Trojan Horse for GMOs in Europe.
Apart from that, the only merit in Ridley’s article is that its paywalled status means relatively few people will be exposed to it!