Food minister Owen Paterson backs GM crops

Sorry this is rather off my normal craft and woodworking topics but it is a subject equally dear to my heart. It is a story of powerful rich men taking risks with other people’s livelihoods for their own personal gain, sound like the banking fiasco? no this one is industrial farming but there is still time to do something about it.

Yesterday the UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson gave his backing to the GM food industry saying

 “Emphatically we should be looking at GM … I’m very clear it would be a good thing.
“The trouble is all this stuff about Frankenstein foods and putting poisons in foods.
“There are real benefits, and what you’ve got to do is sell the real environmental benefits.”
The Environment Secretary also said that consumers were already unwittingly eating GM food on a regular basis, so concerns about human health are misplaced.
“There’s about 160 million hectares of GM being grown around the world,” he said. “There isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typical London restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed. So it’s a complete nonsense. But, the humbug! You know, large amounts of GM products are used across Europe.”
Mr Paterson was confident that David Cameron would find an “appropriate moment” to back GM food.
“I’m very clear it would be a good thing,” he said. “So you’d discuss it within government, you’d discuss it at a European level and you’d need to persuade the public.” article here

Lets be clear about this, there are very real benefits of GM food the benefits are to the multinational corporations that are allowed to patent and market the GM modified products. The UK are leaders in GM technology. The government are desperate for anything that will show a profit at any cost and GM will show a great profit but at what cost? and who looses?

The story of Percy Schmeiser vs Monsanto show how hard it is for a Canadian farmer to stand up to Monsanto, his family had farmed the same land for 3 generations saving their own seed. Monsanto’s GM seed blew into Percy’s farm contaminating his seed. I would like to think Monsanto should be liable for this pollution yet their top lawyers successfully sued the Schmeisers for $100,000 for using “their” seed.

The UK public tend to oppose GM through fear of the unknown. I oppose GM because it has catastrophic effects on the worlds peasant farmers. Since 1995 when GM cotton was heavily marketed in India 300,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide to escape the huge burden of dept that this farming typically creates in third world communities. This short film shows how that process happens.

Listening to Monsanto we would expect the third world farmers to be welcoming them with open arms. Peru recently voted to ban all GM foods, not just seeds, any GM product at all for 10 years.

Kenya too bannng import of all GMO’s

and some are pushing for a whole Africa ban on GMOs from 2013

When we drive past a cornfield most folk do not realise that from an insects point of view it is a poisoned desert. This experiment looking for life in a GM corn crop showed how barren it is.

The bottom line is that GMOs are designed to change the practice of small farmers planting genetically diverse saved seed. They are designed so that those farmers are tied in to buying new seed and fertilisers from Monsanto every year. They are designed for rich people to make money from poor people it does not surprise me that Owen Paterson is supporting this but it saddens me greatly.

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12 Responses to Food minister Owen Paterson backs GM crops

  1. Mike Mosher December 11, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Hi Robin,I have been following your blog for a long time. I am a science teacher here in Connecticut, USA, and am currently teaching my students about GM foods right now (their project making an infomercial is due next tuesday). It is a major problem, even labeling food here in the US is difficult to get the OK. California just denied it on 12/6. I guess what Monsanto does is threaten to sue the local governments which intimidates them into backing off with bills that would help people make good decisions. It is a problem all over the world.If you don't mind me posting a few video titles which help explain things:Food Inc.Harvest of Fear(For kids) The Eyes of Nye: Genetically modified foodsA fun twist on it: Grocery Store Wars (Star Wars parody)Thanks Robin, I enjoy everything you are about and support!Mike

  2. Robin Wood December 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    thanks Mike Grocery Farm Wars was a hoot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVrIyEu6h_EI like the message of food inc, as consumers we don't feel very powerful but that is the opposite of the truth actually all the power is with the consumer.

  3. Gorges Smythe December 12, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Money and power, that's what it's all about.

  4. Marshal December 12, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    I am sorry I disagree. I have an agriculture science degree and I seek my source of truth from the 1,000's of pages of scientific research from accredited institutions and universities. Food Inc, etc… while entertaining are not scientific research but rather… political based hysteria. GM's have been used for more than 2 decades and are safe. For what it is worth… I do believe in global warming. The science backs the findings. Sorry I love woodworking and the blog. But I respectfully disagree here. Back to woodworking!

  5. Robin Wood December 12, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Thanks for the comment Marshal but I am not sure we disagree, you will see in my blog post not one comment questioning whether GM are "safe". Do we agree or disagree on the effect of GM on the worlds poor farmers? and on genetic diversity? Who wins and who looses with GM?

  6. Alex December 12, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    An interesting blog Robin. You can see how our government always bends to the money. I have an environmental chemistry degree and do not have a problem with gmo's being safe to eat. I do have a problem with how it gives all the power to big industry which has enough political power already to bully anyone without any comeback against them. Very disturbing.

  7. Alex December 12, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    I would also like ro add that gm has similarities to nuclear power. Nuclear power is safe in our country for at least short to medium term, but the damage it causes in the countries where the Uranium is mined outweighs that. GM is good for industrial agriculture, and the British economy, but harmful in nearly every other way.

  8. Steve Byrne December 12, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Putting Paterson in charge of Environment is pretty much the ultimate case of the lunatics in charge of the asylum. If they had simply given the job to the CEO of either Shell or Monsanto, at least it would remove some of the pretence.These decisions are about ensuring that big agri-business keeps the money flowing, and the consequences for small farmers and consumers are of no real significance to them.

  9. Marshal December 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Good point Robin! Where the globe has failed but is making improvement is in sustainable supply chains. Whether it is food supply chains or toy supply chains. All parties in the supply chains MUST practice sustainable practices to the environment, safety, and the people. Both consumers and the producers!

  10. traditionalskills December 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Monsanto is and evil corporation with greed at the forefront. They do not care that their GMO's still produce pesticide poisons in our stomachs after eating it or that in animal studies the GMO's cause infertility after a few generations of consumption. Perhaps that is their goal, to reduce the population. What is worse is that they have leveraged US farmers into growing the stuff and sue the living daylights out of those who refuse. It is common practice for Monsanto to contaminate non GMO farmers crops to use that as a way to sue them. This corporation needs to be taken down.Sorry for the rant but this is something that I believe is a very big issue that needs to be addressed.Take care,Dave

  11. Christina December 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    What a brilliant post!!! Thank you! Please would you consider signing a petition about this:http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Keep_Britain_Free_from_GM_Crops/?launch

  12. Graeme December 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Tragic, the way Monsanto treated the Schmeisers is indefensible.
    Is Monsanto ‘evil’? That’s probably not fair, what they have done is found a way to be very successful in the big corporate game of the current western economic paradigm. Increasing profits by increasing growth, increasing growth by establishing new markets and cornering existing markets. I know of 2 things that are evil in there effect, the way Roundup, (Glyphosate) is marketed to farmers and the development of Roundup Ready crops. The latter ensures more glyphosate can be used over the top of food crops, the former creates the illusion that glyphosate is safe and has no residue in either the soil or the above ground parts of sprayed plants!
    The seed issue in developing countries however is not new to GM crops, it was around long before Monsanto got in on the game. Hybrid seed promises many things, bigger, faster, healthier (sometimes) but has the problem that the seed produced is either not viable or won’t come true in the next generation so has to be bought every year.
    Irrigation can lead to desertification; continuous growing of cotton exhausts the soil; large scale monoculture can have serious effects.
    There are plenty of studies that show if all farming in the UK went organic overall output would drop to 80% of what it is now but there would also be huge savings in inputs, much more diversity of plants and animals, improved water and air quality. Studies also show that the only viable way to rejuvenate the vast areas of depleted soils in developing countries is with organic methods.
    Which brings me to what positive actions can we all do: support organic farmers; support organic fair trade; grow some of your own food with non-hybrid heirloom seed; support seed savers; protest to ministers, shadow ministers, local MP,s and local authority representatives where appropriate.

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