Unsafe GM maize a trigger for food shortages?

October 2012 
 
The reaction of the pro-GM lobby to the long-term experiment which found evidence of harm from NK603 GM maize and its companion herbicide, had all the hallmarks of a full-scale panic (see UNSAFE GM MAIZE A TRIGGER FOR US LABELLING - October 2012).

The more savvy have identified the biotech industry itself as being behind the furore. Biotech finger-prints were all over the scientists who immediately jumped up and tore the study apart in their customary ungentlemanly and unscientific fashion. Not to mention the industry-funded Science Media Centre which rushed to feed all the correct 'science' to the media, most of whom dutifully repeated it. Add to these, who knows what lobbyists (including, it seems, members of the GM assessment panel itself) were primed to make sure the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) took the right pro-GM decisions. All this happened in record time as befits a pre-planned and orchestrated suppression of unwelcome news. Just what the biotech industry PR boys do best.

However, here's another interesting angle to the bigger picture. What are the chances the order to kill the offending science with all possible speed came directly from the Whitehouse? A hotline from the US administration to key parties in Europe?
If that sounds far-fetched, consider the position the USA has got itself into.

One American journalist has identified a looming disaster in America. The problem is self-inflicted, and started with changes in its laws on patents.

Some thirty years ago, in a bid to encourage public universities to fund themselves, these institutions were allowed to take out patents. Industry very quickly realised this enabled it to buy the rights to, and to control, university research, while the universities quickly became dependent on industry funding. The next nail in the coffin was the legalisation of patents-on-life. This path was a slippery slope to GM domination greased by America's blind faith in the efficiency and self-regulating capacity of the 'free market'.

With patents in place to control the scientific agenda in their favour and then to dictate premiums collectable on the product, GM crops were bound to be winner. Research and development are expensive, and coupled to a free-for-all market, only the big companies could afford to move into GM products. The biotech industry, mainly Monsanto, bought or bankrupted all other seed suppliers, to the point where we are now. That point is where non-GM seed is no longer available.

The ominous story of GM sugar-beet tells us how its monopoly of the seed market can be used by Monsanto to back US regulators into any corner it wants.

Roundup Ready sugar-beet was banned by the US courts because the Department of Agriculture had acted illegally in approving it without carrying out a full environmental risk assessment.

When the assessment was finally published, it found that GM pollen from the sugar beet could contaminate non-GM sugar-beet, table beet, Swiss chard, and wild relatives, and could contribute to the growing problem of superweeds. Indeed the risk of widespread gene pollution wasn't just theoretical even at that point, one conventional seed producer had already found that 25% of his Swiss Chard and table beet fields were contaminated. Despite the extent of the future damage predicted, the assessors went on to recommend that Roundup Ready sugar-beet should be approved, for no other reason then because there was no other type of sugar-beet seed available for the farmers to plant. Complete control (95%)of the market had been achieved by Monsanto within two years of the GM sugar-beet seed's launch.

Here's the position now ...
If the US Administration admits that all Roundup-Ready crops (that's all soya, most maize, all sugar-beet and quite a few other crops) are linked to cancer, the country will have very little food. Europe and many other countries depend on these US commodities to feed their livestock: the admission would have catastrophic consequences not only here but throughout the world.

And here's the conclusion ...
Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have every reason to suppress any science which suggests harm from Roundup Ready crops.

OUR COMMENT

Maybe Monsanto has seen the writing on the wall for Roundup Ready crops for some time and is poised with something else to pull out of its hush-hush hat. If it does, rest assured that the 'something else' will be very, very expensive.

If the idea of food shortages doesn't appeal to you, TAKE ACTION

Start by writing to your MP and MEP (or go visit them, they all have local surgeries):
  • stress that in light of the latest long-term feeding safety study you are concerned for your health
  • ask him/her to press for a moratorium on all Roundup Ready crops and the use of Roundup on food and feed crops
  • add any other points you think are important
If you want more information, or help with the contents of your letter or how to contact your MP and MEP, check out GM Freeze Action Alert: Demand better safety testing for GMOs at www.gmfreeze.org/actions/28

SOURCES:
  • Joel Dyer, Monsanto's point of no return, Boulder Weekly, 30.08.12
  • USDA leans toward deregulation of GM sugar beets, The Organic & Non-GMO Report, Issue 19, December/January 2012

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