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Jan 23, 2011
Hadn't expected this (I mean, not surprised at Beddington, as he's said it before), but the Guardian dedicating a whole article to cheerleading GM: I am referring to 'Genetically modified crops are the key to human survival, says UK's chief scientist'

The whole article focuses on Sir John Beddington's opinion - cheerleading GM - with only one (inaccurate/ incomplete) sentence to 'balance' it ("Such remarks will enrage many environmental groups, who believe it is wrong for the west to impose a technology it has developed on the third world."); this *endless* pushing of GM does not only enrage "environmental groups", but farmers, anti-debt groups, religious groups, poverty alleviation agencies and many, many more. Also, the objection is not that the "third world" shouldn't benefit from a 'western technology' (how silly would that be - technology transfer - under just conditions! - is actually something that these groups actively advocate for!), but because (amongst others):

- The potential abuse of power that this technology and gene patent laws give the breeding companies (the crops are purposefully made sterile), thus making farmers subservient/ at the mercy of GM companies
- It has been proven that it does *not* systematically increase yields (as promised by GM)
- The 'benefit' of being able to use more pesticides mainly serves to increase profit of GM-linked pesticide sellers and pollute fields and rivers plus poison farmers, *not* benefit food output
- It is *not* a solution for the emotive 'world hunger' (as a humanitarian aid worker I know that many die of hunger surrounded by food... because they can't afford to buy it, because 'globalisation/ free trade' make it difficult for farmers to compete with cheap imports; because people lack access to simple solutions to store excess food; because farmers and local traders face trade barriers to export; because land is leased to rich foreigners...)
- Funding for biotechnology reduces the money that is available for researching other technologies that would probably be more beneficial, cheaper and more sustainable (if probably less profitable for shareholders).
- GM is not safe (several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system)
- If Beddington doesn't want 'environmentalists' from stopping GM, then Beddington should also listen to his intended 'beneficiaries' of the technology: e.g. the 'global south' do *not* want it

I could go on forever, but will leave it at this. I could provide several reputable sources for all (and more) arguments above if you wish. I'll mention just one: The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is a major World Bank and UN funded study that has been endorsed by 58 governments, including the UK. Its findings are that small-scale sustainable agriculture (using local variaties) is the way forward if we are going to provide food for the Earth's growing population in a time of climate chaos and is dismissive of GM for some of the above mentioned reasons.

I hope in the future The Guardian (and all) will provide more balanced reporting!

I wrote a variety on the above in an e-mail to the Guardian Environment Editor.

Lots of other relevant research and info on Political CleanUp.
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Posted: Jan 23, 2011 6:33am


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Rianne ten Veen
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