from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor
This was a week that should have been an excellent one for the biotech industry, thanks to a smoke-and-mirrors PR exercise in the UK which generated headlines around the world declaring that Britain had given the green light to GM crops and that British scientists said they were safe. This was based on a shedload of lies, spin and subterfuge, much of which is already starting to be exposed. Read below our exposes of the chief players.
Fortunately, even after seven years of a ferociously pro-GM government in the UK, there are still a number of significant obstacles to GM crops ever being grown here commercially (HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - UK). As prize-winning journalist Geoffrey Lean commented, the "announcement changes little, and will do nothing to abate public hostility or slow the flow of damning evidence. It does not even ensure that a single GM crop will be grown in Britain. It is little more than spin designed to show that Tony Blair is never wrong and to appease the ferociously pro-GM President Bush.
But it does present a danger by allowing the GM industry to tell the world, however falsely, that European resistance to the technology is cracking." Be in no doubt, this will only serve to fire UK and European resistance to new heights.
Meanwhile, in America, things are starting to fall apart for the industry. Following on from Mendocino County, California's vote to ban the growing of all GMOs, senators in Vermont have now passed a Farmer Protection Bill that places the liability for contamination firmly with the industry (see GRASSROOTS VICTORY OF THE WEEK).
And at the end of the week the GM story generating headlines is one the industry has been trying to kill for the last 3 years - the threat to Mexico's vast storehouse of native corn (maize) from GM contamination. Mexico made it illegal to grow GM corn as long ago as 1998 but contamination is widespread and a new report emphasises the threat to the survival of native varieties. (HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL).
The new report follows on from a recent study showing more than two-thirds of conventional crops in the United States are now GM contaminated - dooming organic agriculture and threatening a severe future risk to health. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/environment/story.jsp?story=498693
Finally, watch out for SICK JOKE OF THE WEEK. The US corporate establishment is so desperate to prop up its ailing biotech industry that it's just given Monsanto a prize. A prize for what, you may ask. For being the best multinational corporation in the world!!!
www.ngin.org.uk / www.gmwatch.org
SICK JOKE OF THE WEEK
GRASSROOTS VICTORY OF THE WEEK
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - UK
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL
HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
SICK JOKE OF THE WEEK
+ MONSANTO IS BEST IN THE WORLD
Monsanto has been named "Best Multinational Company" in the International Business Awards competition. The company will receive a 2004 "Stevie" Award at a ceremony on March 22 in New York City. Specific reference is made by the award-givers to the company's Pledge to integrity, transparency and respect. Yet throughout the period of the Pledge the company's corporate communicators have been engaged in a relentless campaign of covert dirty tricks. Find out more about Monsanto's vicious PR tactics against its scientific and environmental critics: http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=153
Forbes Magazine and forbes.com were both prominently represented on the panel that made this award so watch out for some Forbes white wash in the coming weeks. Forbes, it may be remembered, previously named the Monsanto-connected scientist, Florence Wambugu, as one of the world's key figures who were "reinventing the future". And it showcased her claims for the Wambugu/Monsanto GM sweet potato project in Kenya. This project has subsequently been exposed as a total dud, with Wambugu's claims proven both contrived and false. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2801
By a happy coincidence, the St Louis Business Journal (yes, Monsanto's home town business rag) has just reported that the U.S. govt. has launched a website promoting GM crops "such as those developed by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., as part of a taxpayer-funded project to promote the crops worldwide".
However, if anyone still doesn't fancy the products of the world's most wonderful multinational, then they'll probably get the treatment of Sudan where the US has cut off all humanitarian food supplies. They are doing this even though they have been warned by the United Nations that food stocks for relief operations will be exhausted by April/May. USAID states, "the potential humanitarian consequences of this pipeline break for the needy in Sudan cannot be over emphasized".
GRASSROOTS VICTORY OF THE WEEK
+ VERMONT PASSES LAW TO MAKE GM FIRMS LIABLE FOR CONTAMINATION
Vermont Senators voted unanimously on March 10 to support the Farmer Protection Act (S.164), a bill to hold biotech corporations liable for unintended contamination of conventional or organic crops by GM genes.
The vote came after 79 Vermont towns passed Town Meeting measures calling on federal lawmakers to enact a moratorium on GMOs, and 10% of Vermont's conventional dairy farmers have pledged not to plant the crops. Vermont joins Mendocino County, CA at the forefront of domestic resistance to GM crops.
"The Farmer Protection Act is a pre-emptive strike to stop predatory lawsuits against Vermont's family farmers by biotech companies like Monsanto," said Ben Davis with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.
"Big biotech corporations are writing the rules in their own interests at the national and international level, and using their patented GMOs as a tool to contaminate and control farmers," said Doyle Canning, a campaigner with the GE Free Vermont campaign. "Vermont is showing that a little state can make a big statement against corporate greed and work towards a Time Out on this technology. We are working in concert with the folks in Hawaii, Mendocino County, and in the 30 nations around the world where GMO crops are stringently regulated, to put farmers first."
The Farmer Protection Act was amended with an 18-11 vote to include language targeting GM patent lawsuits. The amendment protects a farmer from being sued by the manufacturer if the farmer's crops are contaminated with GMO material." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2870
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - UK
+ UK GOVERNMENT IGNORES SCIENCE, PARLIAMENT AND PUBLIC CONCERN ON GM CROPS
On 9 March 2004, the UK government announced its intention to proceed with the commercialisation of a GM maize crop without a debate in parliament and in the teeth of the conclusions of its own official Public Debate and of a unanimous all-party report from Members of Parliament saying such a move could not be justified.
Dr Sue Mayer of GeneWatch UK said the move showed how little regard the government had for Parliament, the public, non-GM farmers or the environment, adding, "Questions still hang over the GM maize and the FSE results. The FSE's have been re-analysed to look at the non-GM trials that didn't used atrazine, but this was only four sites which is a very limited number. If this was a clinical test for a new drug we would go back and do the trials again, our farm wildlife is in such a precarious state we need to be very careful. And farm scale trials are only one part of the GM safety jigsaw." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2834
+ ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE ADVISES AGAINST GM MAIZE COMMERCIALISATION
The government is known to have taken this decision the day before an influential committee of MPs announced that the government should not commercialise GM maize on the basis of the results of the recent Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs). The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) unanimously agreed that the GM maize trials were "unsatisfactory, indeed invalid." They urged the government to carry out further tests on GM maize, but this time comparing it to less intensive forms of farming like organic.
The report, "GM Food - Evaluating the Farm Scale Trials", written by a cross-Party group of MPs, examined the design of the FSEs, which were intended to measure the environmental impact of 3 GM crops, and recommended that: *"It would be irresponsible of the government to permit the commercialisation of GM crops on the basis of one narrow component of the entire evaluation of GM technology."
*"The scope of the trials was very narrow and the results cannot be regarded as adequate grounds for a decision to be taken in favour of commercialisation."
*"The issue of liability be settled before any GM crops are allowed to be commercially grown in the UK."
*"It is vital that the government permit no commercial planting of GM maize until that crop is thoroughly re-trialled against a non-GM equivalent grown without the use of Atrazine [which has now been banned]."
*"Problems evident in north America have not been taken seriously enough."
But environment minister Elliott Morley immediately rejected the panel's calls for more safety testing of GM crops. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2792
+ BOGUS COMPARISON FORMS POLITICAL FIGLEAF
In what was clearly a carefully contrived operation to upstage the Environment Audit Committee report on the day of its publication, a paper was rushed online by Nature claiming to show that even with the ban on atrazine, the GM maize would still be marginally better for wildlife.
Because only four fields had not been sprayed with atrazine type chemicals (triazines), the paper was highly speculative and had to largely draw on data from fields which had been sprayed with the banned chemical in order to make predictions about what would happen in fields where such a chemical would not be used!
see Bogus Comparison in GM Maize Trial http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2890
The Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons dismissed the paper as "neither robust nor particularly credible science", while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said in a letter toThe Times, "A recent paper published in Nature confirms that there are too few data to provide a clear answer on GM maize... the jury is still out", but the Government did not wait around for the dust to settle and promptly announced there was enough evidence for commercialisation.
Two of the scientists who provided this political fig leaf have research contracts with Bayer. The other authors claim to have "no competing financial interests" but, in reality, almost all work for institutes with financial ties to the industry.
In reply to criticisms from the Environment Audit Committee reported in the Times newspaper, Les Firbank, one of the authors of the Nature paper and also the coordinator of the FSEs, wrote, "I find it astonishing that the chairman of the committee should announce that the work is 'neither robust nor particularly credible science' within a few hours of its publication in Nature, the most highly acclaimed scientific journal in the world." Prof Peter Saunders and Dr Maewan Ho responded, "We find it astonishing that the paper got past the referees of any respectable journal". http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2890
+ SPIN, LIES, FLAWED SCIENCE & BOGUS COMMERCIALISATION
Geoffrey Lean, in a brilliant article, "Spin, lies and flawed science", cautions against seeing the government's decision as a victory for the industry:
"Even now [UK environment secretary] Mrs Beckett has been unable to give specific permission for planting the crop, and has to confine herself just to supporting it in principle. Instead she has effectively announced another delay while a public consultation is carried out into how to minimise genes spreading from the GM maize to organic and conventional crops.
"This will prevent any of the maize being grown this year. And it is looking increasingly likely that the consultation exercise will be spun out to prevent any planting next year either in order to avoid a row in the likely runup to a General Election. By the year after that, 2006, the EU licence for the maize will have run out and the industry will have to demonstrate its desirability all over again.
"The GM industry can see the writing on the wall, even if it still eludes Mr Blair's tunnel vision. " http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2851
Among the many obstacles that still exist to commercialisation:
* Debate in Parliament - there has still not been a debate in Parliament which would allow MPs to vote for/against the growing of GM crops in the UK.
* Liability - A private Member's Bill, the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contamination and Liability) Bill, being introduced into Parliament by MP Gregory Barker.
* Compensation - Paul Rylott (ex Bayer - just been sacked) has famously said "There's no need to have a compensation fund" and that the industry won't fund one. Yet this is one thing on which the Government appears to insist.
* Insurance - no insurance company, including NFU Mutual (aligned with the pro-GM National Farmers Union), will yet insure GM crops.
* National Seed Listing addition is reqy=uired for the GM maize and there can still be legal challenges at this stage.
* Herbicide approval is still required - for the herbicide "Liberty" (Glufosinate Ammonium) used on the gM maize. Bayer are reported to be suing Friends of the Earth to stop them revealing the company's own safety data on Liberty.
* Green Gloves pledge - 3000 people who will tear the plants out of the ground if they are planted...
* Retailer rejection - many retailers will not buy product from animals fed on the GM maize - and campaigners are now gearing up to campaign for all GM animal feed to be excluded from the food chain, which would be a devastating blow foir the biotech industry.
* Consumer rejection - Consumers don't want to eat GM food or food produced from animals fed on GM feed (thanks to Marcus Williamson for this list - his was longer!)
+ HOW THE BMA REPORT WAS FIXED
One headline after the announcement of the GM maize commercialisation ran, "Doctors 100% behind GM decision". The article reported, "In an apparent U-turn over its policy to GM foods, the British Medical Association said there was no reason not to go ahead with commercial planting of GM maize".
Sir David Carter, chairman of the BMA's Board of Science, had reportedly said it was necessary to "move away from the hysteria that has so often been associated with GM foods". Asked if he would be 100% behind a decision to allow GM maize, Sir David said: "I would say so." http://www.femail.co.uk/pages/standard/article.html?in_article_id=209481&in_page_id=2
The timing of the press conference and Sir David's remarks could not have been more helpful to the government if it had been planned that way. Yet Sir David's remarks were not only out of line with the BMA's much more cautiously worded report and press release which called for much more extensive testing of GM products, they were a million miles away from what the BMA last said on the issue. In November 2002, in its submission on GM crop trials to the Scottish Parliament's health committee, the BMA said that "insufficient care" had been taken over public health and that the grounds for concern were "serious enough" to justify an immediate end to GM trials.
Yet now, according to Sir David, the BMA regards not just trials but full commercialisation as 100% OK!! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2494267.stm
However, the Daily Mail quickly reported that Sir David, who personally initiated the review of the BMA's position on GM, is part of a controversial pro-GM lobby group. This is Sense about Science (chairman: Lord Taverne) whose staff are part of the far-right LM network which campaigns against any restrictions on GM crops and reproductive cloning. Sir David sits on the lobby group's advisory council along with such extreme GM proponents as Sir Peter Lachmann (said to have threatened the editor of The Lancet over Pusztai's paper), Derek Burke, Vivian Moses (part of the biotech industry funded lobby group CropGen), Matt Ridley, Roger Turner (connects to the GM-industry body SCIMAC), Michael Wilson (consultant for Lord Sainsbury's biotech investment firm Diatech), and Phil Dale (John Innes Centre).
The curious timing of the BMA's press conference on 9 March - the same day as the commercialisation go-ahead was announced - is said to have been made to suit er... Sir David! http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2853
+ THE DISAPPEARING DATA ON CHARDON LL AND COWS
John Vidal reported in The Guardian, "Another very, very bad week for the government on GM. As the Commons select committee of MPs and groups representing more than 12 million people urged the government to think again, environment minister Elliot Morley told parliament that there had not been any published, peer-reviewed feeding trials done on Chardon LL T25, the fodder maize crop that GM company Bayer is trying to introduce. But questions still remain. Reading University's Centre for Dairy Research began studies on the crop for Bayer back in 2002 and this was reported to Acre, the government watchdog group on releases into the environment. But no one will now say what these showed..... Morley could clear the matter up. A Commons question has been tabled by Plaid MP Simon Thomas, but even though the response should have been given by March 1, all is quiet."
+ GEORGE MONBIOT ON THE REAL REASONS BEHIND COMMERCIALISATION [EXCERPTS]
"The question is as simple as this: do you want a few corporations to monopolise the global food supply? If the answer is yes, you should welcome the announcement that the government is expected to make today that the commercial planting of a genetically modified (GM) crop in Britain can go ahead. If the answer is no, you should regret it. The principal promotional effort of the genetic engineering industry is to distract us from this question." Read on at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,1165076,00.html
+ THE CONFLICTS DRIVING COMMERCIALISATION
In the wake of the planned commercialisation of a GM maize that almost nobody wants, GM WATCH has composed an exposÅ½ on where power and influence really resides in the UK and the corporate interests corrupting UK science and politics. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2816
+ MP SIGNS UP TO GM DIRECT ACTION PLEDGE
Alan Simpson MP has signed up to the Green Gloves Pledge after the government announced it would give the go-ahead to commercial growing of the UK's first GM crop. He publicly signed the pledge, to pull up GM crops or support those who do, after the go-ahead was announced. Alan Simpson's pledge joins another 2,957 that have been collected since August 2003. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2869
+ OPPOSITION FURY OVER GM CROP RULING
Ministers of the Scottish Parliament faced a torrent of criticism from opposition Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) after deciding to back the Westminster (London) government over GM crops. Scottish ministers want farmers to agree on a voluntary ban on growing GM maize in Scotland, but a voluntary ban could not be enforced. Scottish National Party, Conservative and Green MSPs reacted with anger, accusing ministers of buckling under pressure.
The SNP's Roseanna Cunningham said: "The Executive accept that Scotland should not have and does not want GM crops, yet they refuse to use the powers they have to block them. This is a bizarre decision."
The Church of Scotland joined the critics, accusing the Westminster government of acting "in clear contradiction" of the results of a public consultation exercise.
NB There was a suggestion on Channel 4 News that "pressure", possibly of a financial nature, had been brought to bear on the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies to fall into line with Westminster's approval of GM. Currently we have no further information on this but would be pleased to receive any.
+ CHURCH WILL NOT GROW GM CROPS ON ITS LAND
The Church of England has no plans to change its current position of refusing to grow GM crops on its land. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2839
+ SYNGENTA IN RETREAT IN UK
Syngenta has withdrawn its herbicide tolerant sugar beet 'Pacific' from the UK seed listing process. This means that of 58 GM plant varieties that have begun the UK national seed listing process since 1994, only 4 varieties (less than 7%) now remain in the process. Those varieties that remain are a token single plant variety for each crop.
+ GOODBYE PPL THERAPEUTICS
In the week in which the British government tentatively tried to nail the national colours to the biotech mast, it's appropriate that the ailing biotech icon PPL Therapeutics, the company which helped clone Dolly the sheep, has announced it is to go into liquidation.
The story of PPL Therapeutics provides an extraordinary morality tale about how the biotech bubble has enthralled politicians and bureaucrats, leading them to play fast and loose with public money and public standards.
In October 2002 Monsanto's then executive vice president and chief operating officer, Hugh Grant, joined the newly formed international advisory board of Scottish Enterprise, Scotland's main government-funded agency for economic development. Grant's fellow board members included the chief executive of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, and the senior vice-president of Genzyme Corporation, one of the top ten biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
Scottish Enterprise's love affair with biotech began in the 1990s. At the end of that decade it launched a Framework for Action, which committed the Scottish taxpayer to injecting nearly $64 million between 2000 and 2004 into the development of "biotech customers".
As "network director - biotechnology" at Scottish Enterprise, Peter Lennox, whose principal previous experience had been in the Food and Drinks (whisky) sector, was charged with the goal of doubling the number of biotech companies in Scotland from 50 to 100.
"Already our Biotechnology industry is world famous for Dolly the Sheep," Lennox enthused. Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, had come into the world in 1996 at the Roslin Institute, just outside Edinburgh.
In 2000 it was announced that the company behind Dolly, PPL Therapeutics, was to build a drug manufacturing plant in Scotland. Scotland had been chosen, it was said, because of the financial support on offer from Scottish Enterprise which provided guarantees to underwrite PPL's repayment of GBP13.8m in loans.
For Lennox, Dolly was but the icon at the centre of an emerging "biotech tartan triangle" that could be a major economic driver for Scotland. "We have many other leading lights," he claimed, "who need enthusiastic and well informed young people to bring their talents to the industry in order to both maintain and increase that momentum through the 21st century."
To help generate those "enthusiastic and well informed young people" for the biotech sector, Scottish Enterprise decided on a highly controversial course of action. In early April 2001 it announced that:
"Your World magazine, an informative and colourfully illustrated publication covering the key current topics of biotechnology, will be introduced to over 600 education establishments throughout Scotland from today, to augment the curriculum literature on life sciences... Produced in the US by the Biotechnology Institute, the magazine has seen great success in America for both education and industry alike."
... According to The Sunday Herald, "The 'infiltration' of industry into the curriculum worried the Educational Institute of Scotland, the trade union representing teachers. The institute's general secretary, Ronnie Smith, wanted Scottish Enterprise and HM Inspectorate of Education to exercise more critical judgement, and urged teachers to do the same."
... But in January 2002 the icon of Scottish biotechnology, Dolly the sheep, was diagnosed as having a form of arthritis that would usually only be expected in older animals. The following year the decision was taken to "euthanise" 6-year-old Dolly after a veterinary examination showed she had a progressive lung disease, again a condition more common in older sheep. Sheep often live to 11 or 12 years of age.
By September of 2003 PPL Therapeutics had decided to sell its assets and shut its doors. This followed its loss of 18.6 million pounds in 2002, up from a loss of 12.7 million in 2001.
More on PPL Therapeutics at http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=118&page=S
+ IMPORTED GM CONTAMINATING FOOD
Reports claim that GM material has been found in products labeled organic or GM-free. A Friends of the Earth press release says it shows a clear indication that where GM is already grown overseas there are no adequate measures in place to prevent cross-contamination.
The Biotechnology Unit at the University of Glamorgan carried out a pilot study to test for the presence of GM ingredients in soya foods from health food stores and supermarkets. It found that 40%, or almost half of the 25 foods, tested positively for GM ingredients. The data from the survey has not yet been officially published.
Friends of the Earth's Pete Riley said: "This report shows the real threat that GM crops pose to organic and conventional food in the current absence of adequate government controls over GM crops and foodstuffs imported to the UK from countries where GM crops are already grown." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2869
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL
+ US CUTS OFF FOOD AID TO SUDAN
According to testimony made this week by USAID to a Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, as of March 7 USAID has stopped all further food aid shipments to Port Sudan because the Government Of Sudan has asked that US commodities be certified free of GMOs.
When this issue first arose in May, 2003, USAID informed the government that the United States did not (read: would not) provide such certifications but instead sent a team to Khartoum to lobby and reassure the Sudanese government on the issue.
According to USAID, the United States is the major donor of food aid to Sudan, providing some 70% of the World Food Program's total pipeline for the country. The majority of US-donated food aid enters the country through Port Sudan, including 40% of all food aid intended for southern Sudan.
Now USAID is upping the pressure on Sudan by refusing to make additional food commitments to the humanitarian crises in Sudan, until this issue is resolved. http://mathaba.net/x.htm?http://mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=40064
Speaking at a briefing of British parliamentarians in 2002 about similar US tactics during the food aid crisis in southern Africa, the UK's former Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, said, "It's wicked, when there is such an excess of non-GM food aid available, for GM to be forced on countries for reasons of GM politics... if there is an area where anger needs to be harnessed it is here." http://ngin.tripod.com/271102d.htm
Dr Chuck Benbrook, leading US agronomist and former Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture for the US National Academy of Sciences commented at the time, "..there is no shortage of non-GMO foods which could be offered ... To a large extent, this 'crisis' has been manufactured (might I say, 'engineered') by those looking for a new source of traction in the evolving global debate over agricultural biotechnology."
for more quotes like this http://ngin.tripod.com/forcefeed.htm
+ GM CORN INVADES MEXICO
"We don't know to what extent these genetically modified plants could just take over and cause other species of corn to die off. But that possibility is out there." says Chantal Line Carpentier, coordinator of a new NAFTA report on the GM contamination problem in Mexico.
Amanda Galvez, head of the Mexican government's interagency group on biosafety and genetically modified organisms, said a federally sponsored study had confirmed instances of massive gene transfer. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2889
for the report Maize and Biodiversity - The Effects of Transgenic Maize in Mexico http://www.cec.org/maize/resources/chapters.cfm?varlan=english
+ GENES MODIFIED - NUMBERS, TOO
A letter in the Financial Mail (South Africa) form Mark Jonker on 5 March 2004 says "Misleading marketing has created the myth that GM crops are more profitable and better for the environment.
"The graph showing hectares planted to GM crops worldwide (FM Focus February 27) is flawed. The source is the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA), a lobby group funded by the biotech industry. Its statistics of areas with GM crops in the Third World have been shown to be inflated by 20 times or more when compared with other sources.
Readers should further note that US agriculture department figures calculate that in the past three years (2001-2003) more than 73m more pounds of pesticides were applied on GM acres than on non-GM acres.
It is also well documented that the world's most widely grown GM food crop, GM soya, yields 5%-10% less than non-GM varieties, while the adoption of GM technology by US farmers has resulted in their maize exports to Europe falling from US$305m in 1996 to $2m in 2001. ..." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2835
+ THE GREAT GM HOAX
Leaked documents showed the British Government decided to sell its GM commercialisation in terms of the urgent need for the technology in the developing world. The following articles mercilessly expose the truth behind the PR hoax:
1.GM Crops Irrelevant for Africa - Jonathan Matthews
2.Biotechnology will bypass the hungry - Devinder Sharma
3.Monsanto's showcase project in Africa fails - New Scientist
4.Golden Rice: Mirage of GM's golden promise - BBC
All the above articles are at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2837
+ CHILDREN SUFFER FEVER AND VOMITING AND HORSES ARE DYING
More on the worries about the impact of Bt corn in the Philippines http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2815
+ GM SOY FOUND "GUILTY" IN BRAZIL
GM soy was ''found guilty'' Thursday in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre by an "International People's Tribunal" organised by more than 40 social movements and non-governmental organisations. The accused - the U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, which holds the patent to GM Roundup Ready (RR) soy, and the Federation of Agriculture of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul - were found ''guilty of illegally disseminating transgenic seeds'' in this South American country. They thus ''endangered the environment, biodiversity, human health, the country's agricultural genetic wealth, and the Brazilian economy,'' according to the sentence read by the president of the People's Tribunal, JosÅ½ Felipe Ledur, a Brazilian labour court judge. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2885
+ GM IN THE REAL WORLD
Letter in The Guardian, 5 March 2004, from Prof E R Orskov OBE, head of the International Feed Resource Unit in Aberdeen, criticising Lord Dick Taverne for claiming that GM would feed the world's poor:
"I was astonished to read Lord Taverne's comments (How Science can save the world's poor, March 3.) and agree entirely with the comments made by Professor Roy Butterfield on 4 March.
"For the past 20 years I have had the privilege of spending a considerable amount of time in many countries in Asia, Africa and parts of S America, on missions concerning rural development and rural poverty alleviation supported by both international and national organizations. I have yet to see a situation where problems of poverty alleviation and hunger could be solved by the introduction of present day GM crops. I cannot help but feel that this premise is used as a convenient justification by GM promoters and advocates - their problem is not one of world hunger but of power and profit to satisfy shareholders.
"There are so many solutions which are better and environmentally sustainable. One example is multicropping which is already used effectively in many countries where complementary crops are grown together e.g. leguminous crops with non leguminous crops. Harvesting times may not be the same and therefore more labour intensive but if labour is not a problem then a labour saving device is certainly not the solution. There may be weeding to undertake but then the weeds are often used as animal feed.
"There are numerous such examples that can be further developed and supported. In Vietnam the herbicides and insecticides used in paddy fields are now being substituted by ducks which consume the insects and weeds- result - duck as well as rice production! Additionally fish have been introduced with a resultant increase, rather than decrease, of yield. So now they have duck and fish production as well as rice. Do they really need Roundup Resistant rice?
"I hope one day Lord Taverne will have an opportunity to go out into the real world where there is poverty and hunger with his eyes wide open." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2835
+ GM GIANTS DIG INTO ASIA'S RICE BOWL
Control over rice, Asia's staple food, is steadily passing into the hands of transnational corporations that are based far away in Europe and the United States and that use unfair patents and genetic modification of food, security experts have warned. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2887
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HEADLINES OF THE WEEK: from the GMWATCH archive
11/3/2004 Biotech icon bites the dust
11/3/2004 MP pledges to pull up GM crops /Church of Scotland joins the critics
10/3/2004 BMA science director part of pro-GM lobby group / How the BMA report was fixed
10/3/2004 Philippines' groups warn politicians against endorsing GMOs
10/3/2004 Rift threatens planting / Government and industry divided over compensation
10/3/2004 Spin, lies and flawed science / Daily Mail on the BMA
10/3/2004 Vermont's Unanimous YES on biotech corporate liability and farmer protection
10/3/2004 Yesterday in Parliament - full text of statement and responses
9/3/2004 Bogus commercialisation?/What the science says - BBC/What Beckett actually said
9/3/2004 Church of England won't grow GM crops on its land
9/3/2004 George Monbiot on GM commercialisation - Starved of the truth
9/3/2004 Great GM hoax exposed
9/3/2004 UK government ignores science, Parliament and public concerns on GM crops
8/3/2004 Biotech critic denied tenure - Science in Society issue 21
8/3/2004 Children suffer fever and vomiting and their horses are dying...
8/3/2004 GM myths/Professor Orskov on Taverne
8/3/2004 GM Nation? You bet! - The conflicts driving commercialisation
8/3/2004 Scotland's betrayal - Executive criticsed for backing GM crops in England
7/3/2004 Brave New Transgenics
7/3/2004 Scotland defies Blair/Shocking new evidence of dangers/GM: the closer it gets, the louder the protests
6/3/2004 Delay GM crops, say groups speaking for 8m / Perry's work not "credible science" say MPs
6/3/2004 Monsanto Company Recognized as 'Best Multinational Company'
5/3/2004 Blair uniting the nation against him / No Basis for GM Approvals
5/3/2004 Canada Island May Boot GMO Crops / Mendocino rattles genetic engineering industry
5/3/2004 Food as a political weapon/Alexandria BS-fest/another response to Taverne
5/3/2004 GMO trade war escalates
5/3/2004 MPs warn against 'irresponsible' GM decision
5/3/2004 Responses to the Environmental Audit Committee report
4/3/2004 "Pa, There's Pig Vaccine In My Corn Bread!"/And GM pigs in the feed!
4/3/2004 Biotech industry to fight vote against altered crops
4/3/2004 Blair picks fight with the British people/FoE Hits Out at GM Scientists' lack of data/The wit and wisdom of Joe Perry
4/3/2004 New Labour spin operation underway - push for commercialisation
4/3/2004 Responses to Taverne - Sense and GM science
4/3/2004 Rotten to the Corp - corrupt politics and science
4/3/2004 THE WEEKLY WATCH number 62 - and monthly review
FOR THE COMPLETE GMWATCH ARCHIVE: http://www.gmwatch.org/archive.asp