Genetically modified scam
Genetically modified scam
by Julie Newman
Fri Jul 30 '04
Genetically modified crops are little more than a scam. Farmers and consumers are being misled as the truth is being modified more than the genetics. We can not ignore risk management. Foods are not adequately tested and yet consumer and farmer choice will be denied.
The hype promoting genetically modified canola crops is little more than a scam as the truth is being modified far more than the genetics. In all honesty I have the right to claim that statement as I have dedicated years of research in the GM debate amounting to more time than one would need to obtain a degree with honours.
Quoting Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Director of the Institute of Science in Society: "There is no 'anti-GM brigade'. There are ordinary citizens angry at the lies they've been told, and the undemocratic way in which GM crops are foisted on them."
GM canola is not going to feed the hungry world but the intention is to feed the demands of hungry multinationals with their greedy eyes on the unique patent rights, corporate control of the foodchain and the ability to manipulate plants to require overuse of their particular brand of chemicals.
Remember the one about how GM crops yield so much better and our industry will be doomed without them? Well the reality is that all evidence shows that GM canola yields less than conventional Australian varieties.
There is more evidence to believe the latest advances in Non-GM biotechnology will continue to feed the world more than adequately. GM technology is comparatively old fashioned and "crude" and superseded by advances in non-GM biotechnology that will allow quick and efficient trait selection in future crops.
Perhaps you remember the claims of how GM food is rigorously tested by our regulatory process and is deemed to be safe? Sorry to disappoint consumers but our regulatory process does not test GM foods, they rely on the GM industry themselves to provide this data and there appears to be no long term food testing beyond 28 days. It is worth remembering the quote from Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food... Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible".
Australian consumers must be wondering why our regulatory process approved Roundup Ready canola when the EU rejected it claiming there was insufficient explanation to why liver weights increased by 17%.
Other consumers must be doubting the validity of the sacking of Arpad Puztai after he went public with his scientific data revealing GM foods he tested caused smaller organ weights in developing animals. After all Monsanto was found to donate 140,000 pounds to the university in the same week.
It is no wonder the majority of consumers worldwide do not want to be guinea pigs.
Of course we have been reassured that consumers will be able to have a choice as coexistence is possible and farmers can market as non-GM if they want to. Wrong again! It has been proven that farmers can not avoid unwanted GM contamination in our crops. Rather than expect the GM grower to contain their product, the GM industry expected farmers to all market on the consumer rejected GM market to remove opposition and deny consumer choice.
For those of us farmers wanting to market on the consumer preferred "GM-free" market we were expected to tolerate the costs and liabilities involved. We were expected to break the law and market contaminated produce after signing guarantees and indemnities declaring no contamination.
The coexistence plans were based around definitions that were illegal yet it was announced in Senate that industry had prepared coexistence plans. The GM industry may have accepted them but those not wanting to grow GM crops certainly did not. Why should we accept contamination of a product that is not accepted by consumers and markets and why should we accept liability for a product we do not want?
Almost everything we have been told by the pro-GM / anti risk management activists is based on misleading information.
If the GM companies believed their own propaganda, they would not be refusing to participate in independent trials and they would not be refusing to accept liability for the consequences of GM introduction.
Why would our current Federal government be supporting such a scam? America is experiencing difficulties with exporting GM contaminated produce and subsidies to farmers have gone up in direct proportion to the area of GM crops grown. A farmer recently said that our current Federal government cares more about President Bush than the Australian bush. Perhaps the support for GM is because our government has made a promise to US to "level the playing field" and remove our uncontaminated GM-free status and deny consumers a choice.
Farmers are demanding accountability. It is time we looked seriously at the truth behind claims of benefits and if we can manage the risks involved with GM food crops. At the very least some of the identified risks should be managed.
1. Prior to the commercial introduction of GM crops, GM proponents must demonstrate widespread industry support for the canola stewardship principles/protocols and proof of widespread acceptance. No sector of industry must be faced with unmanageable problems and no sector of industry must be faced with additional costs and liabilities without approval from that sector of industry. Although the GTGC claim they have had approval, the motion moved by this committee was that they pass the problems on to another committee that has no mandate to deal with the problems and has not even met yet. Unless changed, this means that the GM company was to be entirely responsible for the crop management plans and they have no intention to allow non-GM farmers to market on the opposition GM-free market.
2. The definitions of the Canola Industry Stewardship Principles should at least comply with law. The ACCC and independent lawyers have confirmed that in order to make a positive label claim of either "non-GM" or "GM-free", there must be no contamination present, not 0.9% as claimed.
3. An end point royalty on a major patent means that fees could be deducted when farmers deliver the product. We should ensure there is a safeguard to prevent low amounts of unintentional contamination triggering a deduction of Monsanto's patent user fees from a non-GM farmers income. It should not be up to the farmers to sue Monsanto to recover our fees which is a far worse scenario than in Canada where Monsanto must sue the grower.
4. If GM varieties are accepted, all farmer or government funded plant breeding projects must not be able to withold non-GM varieties from farmers. eg. All new crop varieties can not have "deals" with Monsanto where the Roundup Ready gene construct is applied which would make the new variety GM without the same variety being available without this RR gene in the form of a non-GM variety. This would maintain our independence for our own research and development funding away from the corporate controlling influence of patented varieties.
5. As a matter of priority, there must be legal changes to ensure liability for GM crops is imposed on the GM company that owns the product, not on the non-GM growers that do not want to grow it.
We need to take advantage of statewide moratoriums on GM canola and get the rules right. As with any scam, the truth is coming out but will our Federal government wipe the fairy dust from their eyes and address the risk?
Network of Concerned Farmers
address: P.O. Box 6 Newdegate 6355 phone: 08 98711562