Franken-Food; GM Crops

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Right so I think its probably fair to say from the title of this post right from the off you can guess where I am on the GM Crop debate.

British Environment Secretary Owen Patterson is about to re-open the debate in Britain with a bias toward allowing these crops to be commercially planted, harvested and sold into the food-chain.  Paterson, who has previously expressed his backing for GM, will say that government, scientists and industry “owe a duty to the British public to reassure them that GM is a safe, proven and beneficial innovation” for farmers and consumers.

Well they may, off this reassurance; but frankly I DON’T BELIEVE IT IS!!!!!  I don’t believe they are anywhere near safe to be absolutely clear on the point.

Patterson will claim that there are potentially significant economic and environmental benefits to growing GM produce, including increasing yields, protecting crops from disease and reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals.  I think he might just be blinded by the initial economic benefits but this waffle about environmental benefit I really don’t know how he’s going to sell that one.

The thing with GM is that farmers are forced to buy the fertilizer and pesticides from the same company that sells them the crop seeds and that’s the economic benefit (for the Agi-Chemical business that is).  The intensity of the farming practices will deplete soil quality and structure leading inevitably to more extensive use of fertilizer and pesticides.  Its basically a way of exhausting the soils which can only lead to eventual crop failures or more likely small farm failures.  It will lead to super-farms, homogenized food stuffs, low prices, but high profit margins for the producers and sellers.

The claim is that GM will help in combating the effects of climate change (whether you think its man-made, natural or a combination of the two climate change theories).  He will further suggest that the intensity of GM will allow land to be left undeveloped for wild-life.  If you swallow that one I think they just won the argument, it ain’t gonna happen I assure you!

Patterson says Europe is “missing out” on the technology, which is now used on 12% of arable land around the world, and which globally farmers are growing, governments are licensing and consumers are buying.  “While the rest of the world is ploughing ahead and reaping the benefits of new technologies, Europe risks being left behind.  “We cannot afford to let that happen.”

He will call for the UK to be at the forefront of developing GM technology.

There is just one site in the UK where GM is on trial but many of our livestock are fed on grain and foods from around the globe so GM is in the UK albeit disguised as animal feed.

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, research and science Mike Childs has said: “Despite decades of research, there are still no miracle crops to tackle the challenges agriculture faces, such as climate change, soil degradation, water shortages and growing demand.”

BASICALLY IT DOESN’T WORK, so I’d say stop doing GM crops and concentrate on something that is worth doing.  The argument is not made, in-fact I’d go so far as to say the argument is lost.  Ask those cash crop farmers in Eastern-Africa how they fair with the Agri-Chemical Businesses.

My bet is the story goes along the lines of:

  1. Had to stop growing real food for local consumption
  2. Got a big cash pay-out up-front (this is the bribe bit really)
  3. Started growing GM cash crops – it was okay to start with
  4. Then had to get fertilizer and pesticides but could only get them from the Agri-Chemical supplier
  5. Fertilizer and pesticides are really expensive
  6. Commodity values of my cash crop have dropped so I don’t get paid what I used to
  7. I sold my land to survive and now I rent the land I used to own
  8. I’m now poorer than ever, my neighbors are starving and cannot afford the imported food prices they now have to pay

Can I suggest that we drop the idea of GM, go back to farming real food locally and feeding the people that live in our nation with good honest food.  The government could help by encouraging the unemployed to learn how to grow food, tax could be reconfigured to make home-grown food more advantageous to buy.  Link these ideas up with other government initiatives and we begin on the route to self-sustainable food supply.

The planet benefits from not being quite so stressed.

People benefit from good, healthy, fresh, affordable food.

The unemployed benefit from having something to learn, do and earn from.

This might sound a bit like a Kibbutz attitude but heck it could work you know.


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