Echoing GMO-friendly propaganda

November 2014

CC photo Wiki Commons
An interesting revelation on how GM 'solutions' are spun to the public, governments, retailers and industry bodies is worth taking note of.

A spike in commodity food prices in 2007-8 led to a 'food crisis' and hunger-fuelled riots in many areas.

Crises are known to be transformative of perceptions and actions: they can also, it seems, be harnessed to manipulate those perceptions and actions.

German Roundup ban

November 2014

Crop spraying. CC photo by Tim Parkinson on Flickr
In 2014, Germany, as Rapporteur Member State for the introduction of glyphosate herbicide into Europe, carried out a routine re-assessment of the chemical and pronounced it safe.

With global sales of the most-used glyphosate-containing herbicide, Monsanto's 'Roundup', reaching $5.46 billion in 2012 and expected to reach $8.79 billion by 2019, it would take some courage for Europe to declare the chemical unsafe. Add to this that glyphosate-tolerance is the most common GM trait being added into crops of all kinds: removing glyphosate from the GM equation at this stage would spell disaster for agriculture in the Americas and elsewhere. 

Germany is not only being politically correct in pronouncing glyphosate safe: the chemical, in pure form, isn't at all bad as these things go. It's easy to pander to big business and avoid offending the US by generating a positive risk assessment for glyhphosate. 

However, the reality of this cynical political posturing to uphold trade has recently become evident.

Independent scientists have repeatedly warned that the risk assessment of glyphosate has been applied out of context and is, simply, wrong.

America: one vast outdoor GMO experiment

November 2014

Prairie road through canola. CC photo by Jeff Franklin on Flickr
In 2010, a US specialist in plant populations found GM canola thriving widely along North Dakota roadsides. It was genetically transformed to resist proprietary herbicides and had been sprouting for generations. Recently, she gave an update:
“It's still there, and it's always going to be there. When you're driving down the road, and the only thing standing is herbicide-resistant canola, biodiversity has taken a hit.”

Commercial strains of herbicide-resistant canola growing where they shouldn't be are easy to spot. But the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the body responsible for promoting and protecting US agriculture, has approved nearly 20,000 field trial permits covering some 100,000 plantings of experimental GM crops.

Are these crops already joining the roadside GM canola which is "always going to be there"?

US industry-friendly regulation

November 2014

Aerial crop spraying. CC photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service HQ on Flickr
“As man proceeds toward his announced goal of the conquest of nature, he has written a depressing record of destruction, directed not only against the Earth he inhabits but against the life that shares it with him.” (Rachel Carson 1962)
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established, in part, to stem the tide of this destruction.
Man-made agri-materials are applied locally but become distributed widely by weather, water-systems, food webs, and living and mechanical vectors. The potential for environmental and human health effects is huge and, in America, is subject to the EPA doing its job responsibly.
Over half-a-century after Rachel Carson's chilling warning, a damning critique of the US approach to pesticide risk assessment has been published. The paper uses atrazine, a herbicide used in America but now banned in Europe, as an example, but the points made apply equally to GM crops and their associated chemicals.
Four key fundamental concerns are raised:

Bt soya feeds pests

November 2014

Recognising the “critical” need to “improve our knowledge of the bigger picture of 'Bt' crop impacts, a Brazilian team has published a study on what seems to be an increasing problem in biotech crops in their country. 

The latest thing in GM soya is Monsanto's 'Intacta'. This crop generates a 'Bt' insecticidal protein, 'Cry1Ac', which is effective against moths, but doesn't work against 'armyworm', another key pest of soya. 

Here's a TTIP

November 2014

One of the world's best-kept-secret set of trade agreements is gradually filtering its way into the public awareness.

The ''Transatlantic Trade and Partnership' (TTIP) between the US and the EU is being put in place to reduce regulatory barriers to trade, especially for big business.