The common ground between nuclear power and GMOs

Anti-nuclear protests in Japan, April 2011
Picture by VOA news on Wiki Commons
August 2011

As Japan tries to pick up the pieces left behind by the triple disaster, the earthquake, the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear-plant explosions, which struck in March this year, the long-term implications are becoming evident.

The Japanese Prime Minister said it will take decades to clean up the damage and decommission the plant. The cost will include, not only the rubble-removal, rebuilding and decontamination, but the compensation to people affected, and the knock-on losses to industry and exports.

GM goats

August 2011
“Modern man does not experience himself as part of nature but as an outside force destined to dominate and conquer it. He even talks of a battle with nature, forgetting that, if he won the battle, he would find himself on the losing side.” E. F. Schumacher
If you've been reading about the Scottish scientists who seem unaccountably keen to produce genetically-improved livestock using GM and cloning techniques, you'll be aware of the abysmal survival rate of the experimental animals at all stages of the process (See McCLONES – July 2011).

Mobile phones and cancer

August 2011

Image from Wiki Commons
In May 2011, two land-mark statements were made by globally-influential organisations. One was that mobile 'phones are “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. The second was that lower exposure limits to such devices are necessary on health grounds.

These are 'landmark' statements because they recognise, for the first time, that the accepted measurement of 'harm' which has been applied up until now is, simplistic, wrong and dangerous.

O104:H4 - witch's brew or GM monster

August 2011

2011 O104H4 bacterial outbreak
Source Wikimedia Commons
A new strain of pathogenic E.coli, 'O104:H4', emerged in Germany in 2011. Within six weeks, the bacterium had killed 36 people, made 3,332 people ill, and left 100 with kidneys so badly damaged they face dialysis for the rest of their lives or a transplant.

Investigation quickly revealed that the DNA of O104:H4 is a witch's brew of disease-causing genes. Its genetic armory includes 33 toxins, blood-cell destroying proteins, secretions which bind the bacterium to the gut surface, inflammatory agents, a metabolic pathway which enables it to thrive anywhere (even in the absence of oxygen), and multiple resistance to normally-toxic metals, to name just a few. And added to this, the new bug has resistance to all major classes of antibiotics.


Non-GM super wheat

August 2011

... all across Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa

Photo from Baluchistan on Flickr
If you've already read about GM WHEAT IN THE UK (July 2011) or GM WHEAT IN AUSTRALIA (August 2011), you'll have realised that neither of these GM varieties are necessary: natural aphid-resistant wheat strains already exist but have been by-passed in favour of GM (patentable) versions; roughage in the diet is plentiful if you eat the right things and its presence alone does not prevent cancer, but dietary issues have been by-passed in favour of GM (patentable) versions.

The notion that GM is simpler, quicker and more certain than conventional crop development should finally be laid to rest by the news of the release of the latest conventionally-bred wheat variety. This could and should revolutionise wheat production across Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

GM wheat in Australia

August 2011

Image from Greenpeace Australia Pacific. Click to view a larger version
In March 2011, the Premier of Australia's largest wheat growing state said “We are not contemplating GM wheat”. In particular, he noted the threat such wheat would pose to important export markets because “Japanese consumers would not support GM wheat”.

Only four months later, Greenpeace Australia Pacific were taking non-violent direct action to decontaminate experimental, open air, plots of a GM wheat which had been released across the country (see map above and note below for more info).

The GM wheat being tested is intended to produce an added-value, indigestible, high-amylose-starch aimed at reducing the risk of bowel cancer due to the increased roughage. As Greenpeace point out, no single food can reduce the risk of disease, nor replace a healthy, fresh varied diet and active lifestyle.