I am a committed environmentalist. This is a part of my Christian faith; I believe that we should protect the work of creation, the economy being a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. Due to this, and the facts that I have gathered, I am 100% in opposition to the Genetic Modification or Genetic Engineering (GM – GE) of our food supply. I am still surprised at the general public’s lack of knowledge regarding GM – GE; most seem unaware that it is, in this context, the totally alien insertion of fish and animal genes into plant life.
My concern locally in the U.K. regarding GM is well known having an anti GM letter published recently in the Southern Farmer magazine. I received only messages and letters of support for my position, recently having yet another message from a prominent Wealden farmer, who is also a District Councillor, that he “would never grow GM on his land”.
Therefore I was more than shocked when only a few days into the present U.K. administration it was announced that the new U.K. Environment Secretary, Caroline Spellman had authorised the trials of GM potatoes at a protected and guarded location in Norfolk.
The general public who are aware of GM’s ramifications are not in favour of GM, but the GM companies have now remarketed themselves by informing people that GM will feed the world's hungry. From the evidence there is already about the effect of GM, it would appear that this is not the case. Incidentally, there is already enough food in the world to feed the world (the groaning supermarket shelves and obesity problems in the western World are evidence to this) as until recently the world produced one and a half times the food needed to give everyone an adequate diet, yet millions starved because the world lacked the will to share it. (Source; UN Food & Agricultural Organisation)
We have been told repeatedly by "people in the know" that food production needs to double by 2050 in order to feed the world. In fact, that "statistic" was produced by Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the American Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at a speech he made to the United Nations in June 2008. It has been trotted out mechanically ever since by politicians, scientists and manufacturers. Jacques Diouf took the liberty of "rounding up" a figure from his own organisation's report World Agriculture: Towards 2030/2050.
That report stated that the developing world would need to increase cereal production by at least 70% by 2050 in order to satisfy the predicted demand for a change to a "western" (American) diet - i.e. richer in meat. Food that is grown for animal production is not food for feeding the population. It is grown for feeding to animals to produce meat - one of the most energy intensive processes imaginable requiring ten tonnes of cereal grain to produce one tonne of meat. In more friendly terms 10 kilos of cereal could produce a meal for 100 people but 1 kilo of meat might feed a family of four with hearty "western" appetites. So one high profile figure makes an exaggerated statement and the rest of the world takes it as fact. Even our own government is using it with regular monotony, I believe that, in the U.K., DEFRA is aware of the true facts but has made no attempt to correct it.
And let us not forget either that we, in the West, throw away a third of the food that is produced. It can never reach the supermarket shelves as it can be the ‘wrong’ shape or size, it can be discarded by the supermarkets as it becomes out of date, or it can be binned at the household or restaurant.
In India many farmers grew GM cotton hoping for the promised higher yields, the reverse happened, yields were down to a fifth, the income was a seventh and hundreds of farmers committed suicide. (Source: The Official Report of the Government of Andhra Pradesh) It would seem that the Christian Aid report ‘Selling Suicide, Farming, False Promises and Genetic Modification in the Developing World’ has certainly come true. Perhaps Mrs. Spellman, who is a trustee of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, should read it.
In Canada, cross contamination means that no oil seed rape in the country is GM free so the Canadian parliament, against the wishes of 80% of the public, want GM to be accepted as very few want the crops and the price is low. It only took 7 years in Canada for this cross contamination to take place. On this scale it would only take 3 years in the UK for the same catastrophe to occur.
The world's biggest seed/agrochemical company, Monsanto, told the New York Times that assuring the safety of food was not their job but the job of the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration.) The FDA asked Monsanto for a report on a growth hormone and this was carried out by Monsanto employee Margaret Miller. After the report was finished Miller then went to work for the FDA and her first job was to approve the report that she had written for Monsanto. (Source; Organic Consumers Association of America)
GM Maize (Mon [santo] 863) is approved despite French scientists who 'found serious flaws in the (Monsanto) study at every stage'. The study was not available for scrutiny as it was claimed it was confidential, and then a German court forced Monsanto to release the full report, incidentally The Institute of Science in Society considers GM Mon [santo] 863 as toxic. The fact is that GM companies have a control over many of the world’s seed stocks. Basmati rice is ‘patented’ (the intellectual rights have been granted to a GM company) and Monsanto have attempted to patent the pig. Despite claims GM crops use MORE pesticides. We are witness to a cynical ploy to bring in GM using the poor and hungry for an excuse; GM is not about feeding the world it is about profit.
Greenpeace India raised the alarm and legally challenged the American biotechnology firm Monsanto over the claimed safety of their GM Aubergine, BT Brinjal. Monsanto was then forced to allow tests to be carried out which were conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen. The tests on rats showed that those given the genetically modified food had signs of liver and kidney damage. The toxic food also affected female rats by raising their blood sugar levels and also levels of triglycerides which are fatty substances in the body.
Many GM crops are claimed to offer advantages to areas hit by Climate Change, with reduced water supplies or more salty inundated groundwater, however, this argument is merely jumping on the Climate Change "bandwagon". The real reason that GM crops are being promoted by the Life Sciences companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer is in order to sell their pesticides, fungicides and fertiliser petrochemicals that are needed to grow and protect their own GM crops.
The GM companies, mainly US owned, are well connected; Donald Rumsfeld, former US Defence Secretary was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Monsanto. A US secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman, was also on the board of directors of Calgene Pharmaceuticals which is an affiliate of Monsanto. Linda J. Fisher, a former Monsanto official, was nominated by Bush to be second-in-command at the Environmental Protection Agency. She was Monsanto’s representative in Washington from 1995 to 2000 and co-ordinated the company’s strategy to those opposed to Genetically Modified food. Stansfield Turner, former Director of the CIA is a member of the Monsanto Board and there is Earle H. Harbison former president of Monsanto and CIA officer for 19 years. Michael Taylor worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy. Add to that the fact that Monsanto's chief lawyer was appointed to the Supreme Court by George Bush Sr, and you can't get better connected than that and, if my memory serves me correctly, he was also the supreme Court Judge that took the oath of George Bush Junior when he was sworn in as the US President.
During the Iraq invasion the targets included the Iraq seed stores. Records show that before the invasion Iraq farmers saved 97% of their seeds from previous harvests, but now have to buy in seed from the agrochemical consortiums under the 2004 regulations that prevent farmers from saving seed. They not only have to buy the seed but also the matched pesticides and herbicides that ensure the seed flourishes. I wonder if Mrs. Spellman will include prayers for these farmers when she hosts the 2010 Conservative Party Church Service?
Mrs. Spellman, as we know, is now the U.K. Environment Secretary and well known for her support of genetic modification after, I am informed, spending many years in the agricultural industry setting up the biotechnology lobbying firm Spelman, Cormack and Associates with her husband. Mrs. Spellman’s maiden name is Cormack. Upon appointment as Environment Secretary she immediately approved GM potato crop trials in Norfolk.
I am told that in May 2010 she resigned her Directorship of Spelman, Cormack and Associates, but the Dorridge-based company, specialising in advice involving food & pharmaceuticals, is in the hands of her husband Mark, who, I believe is also Managing Director of Accenture, a procurement company, one of Accenture’s subsidiaries being Accenture Defence, a firm procuring military equipment. Caroline Spellman’s role has been dubbed "a clear conflict of interest" by critics such as the Sunlight Centre, who campaign for greater transparency in government and recently demanded that Mrs. Spellman’s links to biotechnology be investigated.
Professor Brian Wynne was vice chairman of a steering group set up by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) to gauge the public mood on genetically modified (GM) food but Prof Wynne resigned when it became clear that the consultation was biased in favour of GM. He said the public consultation was "rigged" from the start in favour of the controversial new technology. "It is another arm of propaganda to try and push the opinion of the British public in the ‘right’ direction. In that sense it is in line with so much public policy in Britain that assumes the public is anti-science," he said.
Prof Wynne, a sociologist at Lancaster University, is the country's leading expert on public engagement with science and has also advised House of Lords and EU committees. He was vice chairman of a steering group of 11 experts appointed by the FSA in November 2009 to begin a dialogue with the public on the growing use of genetically modified crops in our food. Prof Wynne said within a few months it became clear that the consultation was "rigged" to soften up public opinion on GM. "Apparently No. 10 was lobbied by the food industry on GM, the so-called public dialogue was agreed to and passed onto the FSA," he said.
Earlier the same week another member of the group Dr Helen Wallace, Director of the non-governmental organisation Genewatch, resigned in protest at the FSA's allegedly close links with the agri-chemical industry.
The majority of the world food supplies exist on seed saving. Saved GM seeds, when replanted, do not produce anything like the same crop. I quote a comment made by a third world farmer. “There’s nothing they [the GM companies] are leaving untouched; the mustard, the okra, the oil seed plants, the rice, the cauliflower, the corn. Once they have established the norm, that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it, and it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns”.
GM is opening a Pandora’s Box of disaster. In one example of several, differing companies (GM) Transgenic Canola (rapeseed) has left many farmers’ fields in North Dakota, and is growing along roadsides at some distance from farms and, reported by the news arm of Science Journal Nature that the two differing GM Canola varieties, from Monsanto and Bayer, each resistant to a different herbicide had cross fertilised to produce a plant resistant to both of those companies herbicides, glyphosate and gluphosinate. In late 2004, “superweeds” that resisted Monsanto’s iconic “Roundup” herbicide, were reported in the U.S. media to have popped up in GM crops in the county of Macon, Georgia. Superweeds have, according to other media reports since, alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri.
Bees will fly miles and pollinate different varieties of plants with different pollen and this GM cross fertilisation will happen again and again.
Why should the general public have forced upon us a costly and unsafe genetically modified crop when God has provided us with plenty and without any dangerous to health toxins? For millennia, human civilization has subsisted perfectly well without any genetic modifications, so why now?
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