Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Bayer GM / GE Rice, the facts...

Rice is the world's most important staple food - with more than half of the global population eating it every day. It has been grown for over 10,000 years and is cultivated in 113 countries. Rice is also a key ingredient in a wide variety of processed foods ranging from baby food to the more obvious rice noodles, but all this is under threat as genetic engineering (GE/GM) continues to creep up on our most valuable food.

The German chemical giant Bayer is trying to sell a herbicide resistant variety of GM rice to countries - for commercial planting. Conventional and organic rice is at great risk from being contaminated by GM strains and controlled by multinational corporations and governments.

The rice made by Bayer (called LL62) has been genetically engineered to withstand high doses of glufosinate, an herbicide sprayed on rice fields to control a wide range of weeds; Bayer also makes the glufosinate so any use of the GM rice will boost their chemical sales as a consequence. While this will be good for Bayer, it places farmers, consumers and the environment at risk. Glufosinate is considered to be so dangerous to humans and the environment that it will soon be banned in Europe in accordance with recently-adopted EU legislation.

Genetic engineering is a threat to food security, especially in a changing climate. GM crops repeatedly failed under extreme weather conditions, and some GE plants yield consistently less than their natural counterparts. Earlier this year, GE farmers in South Africa, for example, lost more than 80,000 hectares of corn for unknown reasons. The best insurance policy against climate change and erratic weather conditions is diversity.

Glufosinate is used on potatoes in order to kill of the green crop above the ground, its residues are then found in the potatoes and these are not affected by boiling. When being assessed by an EU working group the conclusions were reached that it could pose a risk to the unborn child and to fertility.

Currently, Bayer is pushing for legal approval of its GE rice in Brazil, South Africa, the EU, India and the Philippines. In the USA, the Bayer GE rice has already been approved for commercial planting, although farmers in the US are reluctant to plant it as they fear the loss of important markets due to the risks of accidental contamination. This fear is not without reason as Bayer already has a history of causing damages that have been estimated at more than USD 1.2 billion to the global rice industry, when one of its experimental GE rice varieties accidentally entered global rice supplies in 2006.

To see just how environmentally dependent growing rice without chemical input is, in order to safeguard biodiversity, please see the amazing and 100% inspiring video link HERE.

As previously mentioned, Bayer field trials in the US lead to the worlds rice supplies becoming contaminated by GM rice. Contaminated goods were pulled from shelves world-wide as bans on US rice came into force yet Bayer claimed that they were not liable for this event as the incident was ‘An act of God’. Yes Bayer, the god of THIS world and age.


stellasmusings said...

Good read, especially for someone involved in the anti-GM fight elsewhere (India). Yes, like everything else, GM rice too is about to be dumped on our head by Bayer under the age old excuse of 'poverty elimination'. We are fighting to stop this from happening. Getting to hear voices like yours certainly helps :)

Rae said...

Oh this is a worrying article. I confess to eating rice every day too. I make my breakfast and most lunches with it.

You're right about the video; it is beautiful and inspiring and indeed these farmers lead a rich life, in touch with the rhythms of nature. It's absolutely stunning. The idea of that 1/2 kilometer table is amazing!

Thank you for highlighting this issue.

Rae x