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Kowtowing to Monsanto Still Leaves a Nasty Aftertaste

Society & Culture  (tags: activists, children, crime, dishonesty, ethics, government, health, humans, rights, sadness, society, gmos )

- 3259 days ago -
Eat GM: "Better than starving to death!" It is not the most persuasive slogan in the history of food advertising. Nor, with this as his pitch, is Hilary Benn, the environment minister, ever likely to compete, as a twinkly salesman of repulsive treats, wit

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cowboss at wscc (68)
Sunday August 16, 2009, 7:24 am
with figures such as Cap'n Birds Eye or Tony the Tiger. But he has to find some reason why, after refusing them for years, the picky British must now learn to love GM.

"The truth," Benn actually said, when he added GM to his new range of national austerity measures, "is we will need to think about the way in which we produce our food, the way in which we use water and fertiliser. We will need science, we will need more people to come into farming because it has a bright future." Did he mean that the only modern, sustainable farming is GM farming? If this endorsement was a little half-hearted, compared with what Labour ministers have said in the past, you can see Benn's difficulty. He's terrified that if he is honest about the government's determination to grow commercial GM crops in this country, the public will to use the technical term go off on one.

At all costs, Benn must avoid a PR disaster like that of a decade ago when Monsanto, the multinational that owns 90% of GM traits (or properties), set about wooing a sceptical British public with a series of huge newspaper advertisements. The tone, funnily enough, was not that different from Benn's last week: modern yet soothing; idealistic yet reasonable. Insufferably patronising. It struck Monsanto, back then, as just the right tone to take with consumers who had recently learnt, following the outbreak of BSE, that their lives had been endangered by a farming industry that fed live cows with dead cows.

"Worrying about future generations won't feed them," ran the slogan above one celebrated Monsanto ad, in 1998. "Food biotechnology will." Wasn't GM a better prospect, continued the chemicals giant, than conventional farming, whereby, along with lavish use of fertilisers, herbicide and insecticide, "soil erosion and mineral depletion exhaust the land"? "While we'd never claim to have solved world hunger at a stroke," it conceded after all, you'd want a couple of days for that "biotechnology provides one means to feed the world effectively."

The company was foolish enough, however, to make several, more immediately disprovable claims in its advertisements, for which it was duly rebuked by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority . As well as exaggerating its years of safety testing, the ASA concluded, Monsanto had not made clear in its advertisements that academic opinion on GM technology was divided.

To be fair to Monsanto, its advertisements did contribute to a national panic about GM food that helped to divide opinion on GM into two entrenched extremes which continue to this day. Biotech multinationals still bleat about feeding the world when what they are actually doing is selling chemicals to put on their patented crops. Or, in some cases, producing nothing more obviously useful to long-term global well-being than GM flowers. A peculiarly pointless example, the Moonaqua carnation, genetically modified to be purple, was recently approved for import as a cut flower by the EU. "The colour of these flowers is absolutely novel for carnation," says its creator, Florigene, "and offers the floral industry new uses for carnation." For instance, the industry can now attempt to camouflage genuine purple carnations inside arrangements of blueberries, something never done before.

On the other side, anti-GM campaigners still stress, as they have done for years, a dismal lack of evidence for either the safety or sustainability of GM crops, unless you count sustainable profits or sustainable superweeds, of which there are plenty. Prince Charles still witters about stewardship while he trails carbon around the planet. And much of the British press continues to flag up its enlightened scepticism by inserting the word "Franken" before anything related to GM technology. Here, for instance, is the Daily Mirror's opening paragraph on the Hilary Benn story: "Farmers may soon be allowed to grow 'Frankenstein foods' under new controversial plans."...... more at site, please visit

Simone Duffin (1462)
Sunday August 16, 2009, 9:57 am
Thank you Cowboss.

Karen S (106)
Sunday August 16, 2009, 7:41 pm
Was this guy educated at the University of Monsanto? Was he paid off? Was he bribed? Was he threatened with litigation? Did Hilary Benn suffer a recent blow to the head that left him dazed and unable to rationalize what is science and what is propaganda? Time for a new job about a lab guinea pig?

Ancil S (175)
Sunday August 16, 2009, 9:20 pm

Peace Monger (185)
Monday August 17, 2009, 1:26 am
hmmmm... Hilary Benn, the head of DEFRA AND... Labour's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who approves of Greenbelt land (which in many cases is used for agriculture) to be used for development to further urban sprawl. Even to the point of over-ruling local govt on managing their own land! Oh the hypocrisy!
Instead of allowing this prime agricultural land to be used for high priced housing, Benn should be encouraging more farming in Britain to end the UK's dependence upon imported food! Yes, the population in the UK is it is everywhere, but to rely upon GM crops to replace traditional farming is short-sighted and dangerous; a threat to the sustainability to our planet as a whole.
Of course, Benn's stance is most likely in line with what GM corps want us to believe, that humanity cannot survive without GM crops all the while these corps make hand over fist $$/.

Thanx C Boss for posting this article. Further proof govt. is in the pocket of GM corp$.

chris b (2474)
Monday August 17, 2009, 10:29 am
The acronism Defra is what politicians suffer from collectively defraness This organisation I have likened to the proverbial chocolate fire guard. It squirms all over often dispensing disaster for animals it has anything to do with. Their pitch on GM seperation for oil seed rape to avoid non GM cross polinating GM rapeseed was 2 metres yes that's right my US friends little over six feet. This was scaryly serious science as wind born pollination carries from as far away as Africa to the UK so what good six foot was I don't know and did they tell all those bees and other insect sorry you gotta show your GM passport if you fly in this area No wonder the eco warriors ripped this stuff up. Then you have to consider most politicians are actually GM modified from alien galaxies so they have a not so hidden agenda with there scare stories of starvation and no more food by whenever it is. The crap the spew out to keep their dirty pockets lined! Why don't they just admit their all bent and that's the way they like all snouts in the trough of big business together. There was once on old farmer in my village who used to say of politicians that they could not lie straight in bed! One if this governments actions was to force a windfarm on us that the economics make quite staggering reading. Concrete bases the size of umpteen double decker London buses, enough aliminium and plastic to cover the third world annual debt an, operational life of only thirty years, strange noise emanating from them, people convinced aliens had chewed of one of the sails when it broke free subsequently proved to be faulty bolts, if the wind blew continuously for forty years the energy produced might equall the energy consumed in manufacture. All owned by a company that wants to charge the consumer twice per unit of electricity what the companies that have to buy in fuel to generate electricity, such as coal gas or oil. This is idiocy gone stark staring mad. I'm all for green energy but this wind power stuff is one of the more bizarre cons toted by government as it rapes the countryside strangely you don't see these things where MPs live!

chris b (2474)
Monday August 17, 2009, 10:45 am
The overworked word technology was at one time I believe the only word Tony Blair had in his vocabulary. What ever happened to the Milleniam bug that was suppose to switch off computers knock aircraft out of the sky stop you washing machine mid cycle. Nothing of course happened at midnight 2000. The glossy brochures anouncing the Governments panic and brown trouseredness have no doubt mostly been recycled pity the politicians weren't Technology is our saviour so the mantra goes. Technology was going to fix everything from crime to food production, education to greenhouse gases. Did the stupid politicians ever stop for one moment to reflect on technology costs energy and technology costs jobs no the mantra comes first !Everyone must be plugged in and switched on. All very nice but as I learnt many years ago as a young office equipment engineer and sales person never take a piece of electric office eguipment to an office with no electricity! It has to be horses for course not one size fits all. Here endeth my sermon here are the notices for next week!

Past Member (0)
Monday August 17, 2009, 4:49 pm
Maybe I'm missing something here but I don't understand why energy isn't being put into developing safer & healthier Real food. Is the Only answer to food shortage Fake food? Now that farmers have been forced out of business, seems like a slap that corporations are asking them to return to produce this stuff. I think food shortage is deliberate so corporations can have their way. It's not nice to fool mother nature!

Peace Monger (185)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 2:09 am
Chris- you're spot on about rape seed, we've had it pop up in our field where it has never been sowed before and the nearest sowed field is over 1/2 mile away! Scary stuff when one thinks upon how GM pollen and seeds can be carried by the wind.
When it was being bantered about to plant GM potatoes in nearby Derby several years ago, our concerns were great. It was a huge relief when the project was cancelled because of concerns of cross-pollination to other potato crops.
The UK & EU must never, ever allow corporations to dictate how food is produced via lobbying politicians who know nothing about biology & botany!
Leave these MPs & MEPs (members of European Parliament) to doing what they do best... cheating the tax payers! (ok, so perhaps that doesn't apply to ALL MPs & MEPs, but couldn't resist!)

Unfortunately... Big Argi Bu$ine$$ doesn't want small, family farms; no, Big Agri-Bu$ine$$ wants to control ALL food production! One can see it here in the UK where ancient hedgerows have been ripped out to create giant fields their massive machines can operate within!
GM has nothing to do with small farming practises and everything to do with massive food production controlled by a few select multi-national corps.
Question we, the populous as a whole care? Or, do we accept corporations controlling our food sources and console ourselves that the death of family farms is/was necessary so our bellies can be/are full??

On another note... we watched a program on BBC2 last night about food, 'The Future of Food' (1/3), which stated the UK imports over 40% of it's food now; whereas just 20 years ago it was only 20%! If you can catch this program next week, I recommend watching it; it is very informative not only in relation to the UK, but countries around the planet!

Great discussion folks; a topic which is near & dear to m'heart. Food...

Past Member (0)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 8:00 am
Monsanto, I could hurl. We need to go back to the smaller farming which was the way years ago. Independent farming, none of this big business stuff. The food would taste better and people would be working again.

. (0)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 8:18 am
Its always the whacky adverts that cause a riot.... but they tend to sell... I don't like eating "cardboard" anyhow, but prefer the real thing...

Nancy M (62)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 1:01 pm
Just on principle, I am dead set against ANYTHING that monsanto touches. They are nothing but a bunch of corporate bullies and they will FOREVER be in my bad books and on my hit list.BOOO!!!!

serge vrabec (278)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 3:21 pm
I AM glad that the public is BECOMING AWARE , making smart choices for them selves., Corps. that manipulate nature are foooling themselves if they believe they will last much longer. OUR work in creating "options" will be made manifest sooner than many believe. Thank you father for all you do for the children of Earth.!

Love, love, love.

Wanna see the change , be the change. simple .

Mandi T (367)
Wednesday August 19, 2009, 1:59 pm
Thank you C.B. This is good that this news is getting out there.

Karen S (106)
Friday August 21, 2009, 6:18 am
The so-called food shortage is a manufactured shortage and I am not buying it. There are tons of consumers out there that, when given a choice, would reject GM "foods" in favour of real food. But next time an election comes around, just try to nail down the candidates on what their policy is on "novel" foods. In Canada, you won't find one of them that will stick their necks out and stand up against the multinationals. Until we get some candidates in there with the courage to make some noise put a stop to this, we will be stuck with it, like it or not. The longer it goes unchecked, the bigger the problem becomes.
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