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 GM crops, From GM Free Ireland (useful base!)
Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Feb 5 2007, 08:21 PM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

This is the best user friendly bit of writing I've seen on why Gm crops are not clever! It is the letter that the Irish farmer's Journal refuses to print, so deserves publication!

Matt Depsey
Irish Farmers Journal
29 January 2007

Dear Matt,

Mairead McGuinness’s call for an open debate on GM issues is welcome, as major decisions on GM farm and food policy continue to be made on our behalf by unelected bureaucrats in the WTO and the EC. But the pre-requisite for a successful democracy (and a useful debate) is an informed electorate. Irish farmers, food processors, food retailers and consumers need to start by informing themselves and make up their own minds, before we debate this controversial issue. And let’s be clear: the subject is GM food and farming, not the biotech industry’s use of GM bacteria in sealed vats in secure laboratories for the production of pharmaceutical products.

The decision to allow or prohibit the release of genetically modified seeds, crops and livestock in Ireland must be taken now or never. WTO and EC pressure to force them upon us is growing rapidly. GM crops can never be recalled after their release and would contaminate our nation in perpetuity.

Despite claims by giant agribusiness-biotech corporations that GM crops can “co-exist” with conventional and organic crops without infecting them via seed dispersal and wind-blown pollen, contamination incidents in 40 countries prove the opposite is true. Numerous studies have found that GM farmers eventually use more herbicides, and suffer lower yields, crop failures, and multiple-herbicide-resistant GM superweeds. Despite no long-term health studies to prove that GM food is safe, there is growing scientific evidence of deaths and disease attributable to GM food and feed in laboratory animals, livestock and the human population. The release of GM pharma crops (which produce industrial chemicals and medicines such as blood thinners, blood clotters and contraceptive drugs) would exacerbate the health risks.

There is no market for GM food in Europe, where the 60 largest food brands and retailers refuse to sell any produce containing GM ingredients. Irish farmers and food exporters who avoid GM food and animal feed (e.g. Glenisk, Silver Pail and Kepak) are already obtaining price premia in the global beef and dairy export markets, and securing multi-million Euro foreign direct investments for GM-free food.

GM seeds and crops are patented by giant transnational agribusiness biotech corporations like Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta and BASF. The WTO’s Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) enables these patent owners to claim royalties from farmers using GMOs, including farmers who are contaminated without their knowledge or consent. The Irish Patent Office says that current EU and Irish laws provide no protection for contaminated farmers who may be sued for patent infringement here. This patenting of life is the transnational corporations’ strategic weapon to control the world’s agricultural seeds, 50% of which are now owned by just 10 companies. Whoever controls the seeds controls the food.

What people think about GM issues depends on their information sources. Having researched this subject internationally for the past four years, I am convinced that any introduction of GMO seeds and crops in Ireland would rapidly cause all farmers to be contaminated, lose their right to save and plant their own seeds, and burden them with licensing fees, higher costs, bureaucracy, labelling, traceability, liability issues, patent infringement & contamination lawsuits, and loss of market share. The official EC report on “co-existence” says GMO crops would provide no benefits and may cause 40% higher production costs for most European farmers

GM seeds and crops are banned or restricted by nine European governments, and by 175 Regional Governments and 4,500 smaller in 22 EU member states. These include Poland (Europe’s largest agricultural producer), Austria, Switzerland, Greece - and most of France, Italy and the UK. The penalty for growing GM crops in some Italian regions including Tuscany is two years in gaol or a €50,000 Euro fine.

In Ireland, GMO crops are already banned in Co. Cavan, Clare, Fermanagh, Kerry, Kildare, Meath, Roscommon, Monaghan, Westmeath, and the district of Newry & Mourne; they are also prohibited by the local authorities in Bantry, Bray, Derry, Galway, Letterkenny, Navan, and Clonakilty, and in over 1,000 smaller areas.

Dick Roche claims he is unaware of any legal basis for such bans, but the Convention on Biodiversity’s Biosafety Protocol (to which Ireland is a signatory), clearly recognizes our right to prohibit GM crops when there is concern over their safety, before damage starts to occur. This Precautionary Principle is also enshrined in EU law and the National Sustainable Development Plan. The Aarhus Convention (also signed by Ireland) empowers local stakeholders to participate in environmental pollcy making. And the Irish Constitution established the Goverment’s duty to protect its citizens’ right to earn a livelihood.

EU member states and the Assembly of European Regions are now lobbying for EU legislation to recognise the democratic right of national and local governments to have the final say on whether to allow GM crops in their areas.

The debate should not be with the transnational corporations who own the GM patents and their lobby groups, but with the stakeholders who will be directly affected by Ireland’s GM policy: farmers, food producers, food exporters, retailers and consumers, the medical community, environmental experts, government policy makers, local authorities and consumers. This debate should be followed by a national referendum.

We the people of Ireland and our elected representatives need to debate this issue now, before the contamination begins. If we fail to decide, others will decide on our behalf, and deprive future generations of their freedom to practice GM free farming and their human right to choose safe GM-free food.

If “it’s all about profit” as Jim McCarthy claimed on Ear to the Ground, consider this: because of our geographical isolation and westerly winds, a policy decision to conserve Ireland’s current GM-free status would provide our farm and food sectors with the most credible GM-free food brand in Europe. Coupled with our famous clean green food island image, and the lowest levels of topsoil dioxins in the EU, this would secure a competitive advantage of immense economic value for the future of Irish food and farming.

[Hoping you will, for once, print a letter of mine in the interest of a fair debate]

Yours sincerely

Michael O’Callaghan
GM-free Ireland Network
Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Oct 31 2007, 12:14 PM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

GM NEWS UPDATE – 30 October 2007

For daily global news on GM issues visit http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news


EU environment ministers gear up for heated GMO debate – EU Observer

Too close for comfort: the relationship between the biotech industry and the European Commission – Friends of the Earth Europe

France puts the brakes on GM cultivation - FoodNavigator.com

Time for a fresh start on GM – Independent on Sunday

The Secret Files – Independent on Sunday

A farmer's story: 'It's all about control of food production' - Independent on Sunday

Official: organic really is better – Sunday Times

Eat your words, all who scoff at organic food – Sunday Times

French Skepticism of GMO Crops Signals Policy Shift – Deutsche Welle

France suspends planting of GMO crops – Reuters

Dimas calls for GM maize ban in Europe – FOE / Greenpeace



EU Observer, 29 October 2007. By Renata Goldirova

BRUSSELS ­ EU environment ministers are gearing up for a heated debate, which should conclude on the future of a ban on two GMO-maize varieties in Austria - something with profound implications for the union's dispute on GMOs at the World Trade Organisation.

On Tuesday (30 October), the European Commission will once again propose that Austria be forced to drop its national ban on the import and processing into food and feed of two types of genetically modified maize - MON810 and T25 - in order to conform to WTO rules.

All 27 environment ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday will subsequently vote on the issue, with the so-called qualified majority of votes needed to either adopt or reject the Brussels' proposal.

The table is split fifty-fifty, however.

"There is no great majority in favour and no great majority against", one commission official said ahead of the ministerial meeting, adding that many ministers are set to make up their minds only at the last minute.

Long dispute

This is the third time that Austria finds itself in the spotlight over GMO maize, with the dispute dating back to 1999 when Vienna announced it would provisionally prohibit any use of the two controversial products.

Meanwhile, a new EU directive on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms entered into force and Brussels in 2004 requested Austria to reconsider its safeguard clause in light of the new legal framework.

However, a majority of EU ministers backed Vienna and swept away commission proposals to scrap the Austrian ban in 2005 and 2006, arguing the Austrian measure is justified due to specific agricultural and regional ecological characteristics.

According to Daniel Kapp from the Austrian environment ministry, the green light for cultivation of GMO products would damage GMO-free agricultural production.

"When it comes to smoking, we protect non-smokers against those who smoke", Mr Kapp told EUobserver, adding "the same concept should be applied to cultivation of GMOs".


The issue is closely linked to a landmark ruling by the World Trade Organisation in 2006.

The international trade watchdog backed the US, Canada and Argentina in their efforts to force Europe to accept genetically modified organisms, stating that Austria's moratorium on such products would break international trade laws.

In the face of continued backing for Vienna among EU member states, the European Commission has now re-drafted its proposal, limiting its requirements only to food and feed aspects of the Austrian prohibition.

The cultivation ban would be allowed to remain in place.

Should member states fail to reach a qualified majority position on Tuesday, it will be up to the commission to decide on the matter under EU rules on GMOs.


The relationship between the biotech industry and the European Commission

An analysis by Friends of the Earth Europe (October 2007)

It is no secret that the EU political class has embraced the neoliberal agenda. In food and farming this translates as high-technology intensive farming with patented inputs and outputs that generate wealth for European industry. The basic aim, clearly stated in EU policy objectives such at the Lisbon Agenda, is to make Europe a leader in the global economy. This has been expressed as different policy slogans ­ the 'Biosociety' in the 1980s, the 'knowledge-based economy' in the 1990s, and the 'Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy' (KBBE) in the current decade.

Friends of the Earth Europe prepared a report to examine one of the results of the KBBE political mindset and agenda: corporate lobby power and its access to one of the key EU institutions, the European Commission. It focuses on one of the key biotech lobby groups ­EuropaBio - and recent examples of the very cosy relationship between the companies who stand to make considerable profits from agricultural biotechnology, and policy makers at the European Commission.

EuropaBio is one of the main and most active lobby groups on GM food and crops at the EU level, and boasts of its 'excellent working relations' with the European Commission. The group's agri-biotech lobby efforts are headed by Bayer Cropscience, DuPont/Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta. As the GM food and crops market is dominated by these very few large corporations, EuropaBio is essentially pushing the interests of these at the European Commission and elsewhere.

You can download the report here:




FoodNavigator.com, 29 October 2007. By Jess Halliday.

France is putting in a place a moriatum on the commercial cultivation of genetically-modified crops pending a review of the sector, a decision that means no new crops can be planted until country's biotech position will be clear.

The decision comes as part of a package of measures intended to make France greener, which was announced by President Sarkozy last week.

A new expert group on the subject is to be set up in the coming weeks and the government is holding a four-month public forum on what France's environmental policy on GM should be, which is likely to be fiercely fought.

One the one hand, the anti-GM lobby in France is powerful, with some media friendly faces like farmer-activist Jose Bové at the forefront. But on the other, some of the most advanced biotech research in Europe is taking place at French research institutes such as CIRAD.

Moreover, seed producers and grain processors are said to have reacted with outrage to suggestions that GM cultivation in France be banned outright.

France's position is expected to be clear in early 2008. This would mean that, in real terms, last week's decision does not make a difference to seed planting, since planting takes place in the spring.

Following the decision, Monsanto has said it is "deeply disappointed" by Sarkozy's speech. It claims GM technology can actually help France reach its environmental goals of reducing pesticide use and economising on water.

Bové has said that he does not object to research into GM, as long as it happens behind closed laboratory doors. Indeed, Sarkozy has stressed that last week's decision does not mean a halt to research.

One of the main concerns is that pollination of GM crops could cross-contaminate non-GM crops grown in the vicinity - and that ultimately the long-term health effects of GM on humans are not known.

Indeed, a working group has suggested that co-existence of the two kinds of crops be more strictly regulated, and that ultimate responsibility for controlling their crops and preventing cross pollination should rest with the farmers.

At the moment, the only GM maize approved for cultivation in France is Monsanto's MON810, which was approved by the EU in 1998.

It is recommended that the distance between GM and non-GM crops should be twice that required for coexistence of conventional crops - that is, 50 metres.

Moreover, although the growers' association AGPM says that in the natural environment maize does not cross-pollinate with any other plant, information should be given to all maize growers whose crops may be near plots of GM maize.

The association also drew attention to the implementation of a best practice guide for coexistence and traceability of GM and non-GM corn in 2004, and compliance with the prescribed limit of 0.9 per cent.

Greenpeace claimed in 2005 the European Commission gave the green light to Monsanto's MON810 maize into the EU seed catalogue, without a comprehensive monitoring plan, since the plan provided was under the old EU directive that considered only the possibility of resistance to Bt-toxin in corn borer populations. Updated directive (2001/18/EC) was said to be more thorough.

In March the Official Journal of the EU published a number of orders on the commercial production of GM crops, and the provisions of EU directive 2001/18 have been transcribed into French law.

The BCC has reported that figures to be published today will show that the area planted with GM crops in Europe has expanded by 77 per cent since last year.

It says that over 1,000 square km of GM maize was harvested this year.

Indeed, the AGPM said in March that interest in Mon 810 has been piqued by a corn borer epidemic across France in the last few years. The first big leap in land devoted to cultivation of MON810 between 2005 and 2006 - from 500 to 5200 hectares. And last year, as in 2005, 15 growers wishing to grow the crop took part in an introductory programme Programme d'Accompagnement de Cultures Issues des Biotechnologies.

In June, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson delivered a strong exhortation to the EU to take a lead in shaping global rules on GM trade - particularly in defending objective science as a benchmark - or suffer the economic consequences.

He called biotechnology "the coal face of applied science in the 21st century", and warned that if the EU does not work through the issues raised by GM food, just as the rest of the global market is doing, it will not be working it its own best interests.

The fear, he said, is that if the EU falls behind in approving safe biotechnology, it would open itself up to economic risks.

According to Reuters, EU Commission has indicated France's case may not stand up in court if it ultimately decides to banned GM crops that are allowed by Brussels.



The Independent on Sunday, 28 October 2007

One of Gordon Brown's many chances for a fresh start, after the high-pitched certainties of his predecessor, is the Government's policy on genetically modified food. In truth, the battle is already over. Those who urged caution, including this newspaper which launched a campaign against GM food in 1999, have won. Those who advocated a rush towards the white heat of a biotechnological future, including Tony Blair, have lost. What is required now is for Mr Brown to accept that outcome and to take the debate on to more level ground.

When we began our campaign, 60 per cent of the food on British supermarket shelves contained GM ingredients. Today there are only two products. Public opinion has spoken and the market has responded. Few people want to eat GM. They have made up their minds even though its safety is still in dispute, with little firm evidence on either side of the argument. And there are other reasons for opposing the growing of GM crops - the loss of biodiversity shown by the Government's trials and the likelihood that genes will escape to contaminate organic and conventional produce. In the absence of a compelling argument to set against these important drawbacks we think that British consumers have made the right choice. If we do not need it, why have it?

That logic has killed off GM as a commercial proposition in this country and most of the rest of Europe for the foreseeable future. When our campaign began, it was widely assumed that consultation and trials were a formality, that GM crops would soon be planted all over Britain and that protests were futile. Mr Blair was enthusiastic about the possibilities, and how Britain could take a leading role on this frontier of human knowledge. Since then, that frontier has become a less exciting place. The hype of "feeding the world", or "super-crops" that do not need weedkiller or pesticides, has given way to a more complex and prosaic reality.

Crops with higher yields have proved harder to engineer than hoped and tend to be overtaken by gains in the traditional technology of selective breeding. And instead of developing crops that might help the world, the biotech companies have concentrated on ones that benefit only their own bottom lines, for example by having to be cultivated with their own proprietary pesticides

So: people do not want it; the great predicted benefits have failed to materialise; the GM juggernaut has stalled. Campaigners for GM have not given up, however. Dick Taverne, a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, writes (again) in next month's Prospect about how "moralising" about GM in the West is costing millions of lives in the poor world. But his argument is unconvincing. Development charities, who know better than most how things work in the often complex Third World grassroots, oppose the technology because it increases, rather than reduces, hunger.

Yet the Blairite mission seems to be carried on by inertia, even after the former Prime Minister and David Sainsbury, his science minister and biotech cheerleader, have gone. As we report today, public funding is still skewed in favour of this one vision of the future of food. Funding for research into GM science seems to be about 20 times that devoted to organic methods. Yet people want organic not GM food, while the emphasis of policy in other parts of the Government machine is on biodiversity and environmental sustainability. (This month the Treasury even published targets for "wild breeding bird populations" and "plankton status".)

What is more, the secrecy with which the Government treats GM policy bears all the defensive hallmarks of the Blair period, when public policy was bent to promoting an unpopular cause on the quiet in the hope that opinion would turn. Geoffrey Lean, our Environment Editor, describes today how difficult it proves to obtain what ought to have been straightforward information on spending on GM research.

Mr Brown has the chance to be more open; to balance policy so that, at the very least, it is more even-handed between GM and organic. And he has the chance to move the debate about the future of biotechnology on to a sounder footing. We are not opposed to genetic manipulation on principle. We do not share Prince Charles's view that it is interfering in matters that are the province of God. If GM technology was really designed to help to feed the world, or produce drought-resistant or salt-resistant crops to help humankind adapt to global warming, then there would be reason to welcome it.

But this has to be subject to transparent assessment of all the environmental impacts, including on human health, without the Government seeking to pick winners and advocating any particular technological fix - especially one that the people of the country reject so overwhelmingly.



The Independent on Sunday, 28 October 2007

Ministers are funding genetically modified crop projects with scores of millions of pounds every year and are colluding with a biotech company to ease its GM tests, the IoS can reveal. Geoffrey Lean on a murky tale that Whitehall tried to hide

Ministers are secretly easing the way for GM crops in Britain, while professing to be impartial on the technology, startling internal documents reveal.

The documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show that the Government colluded with a biotech company in setting conditions for testing GM potatoes, and gives tens of millions of pounds a year to boost research into modified crops and foods.

The information on funding proved extraordinarily difficult to get, requiring three months of investigation by an environmental pressure group, a series of parliamentary questions, and three applications for the information.

Friends of the Earth finally obtained still partial information last week which shows that the Government provides at least GBP50m a year for research into agricultural biotechnology, largely GM crops and food. This generosity contrasts with the GBP1.6m given last year for research into organic agriculture, in spite of repeated promises to promote environmentally friendly, "sustainable" farming.

Publicly ministers claim to be neutral over GM. Four years ago, at the height of controversy about plans to introduce modified crops to Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted that the Government was "neither for nor against" them. The then Environment minister, Elliot Morley, added: "There is an open and transparent process for their assessment and all relevant material will be put in the public domain." Last month the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, reiterated: "There is no change in the Government's position."

But the documents show that ministers have been far from even-handed. One set, obtained by the campaigning group GM Freeze, clearly demonstrate that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) allowed the biotech giant BASF to help to set the conditions for field trials it has conducted on modified potatoes. On 1 December last year the company was given permission to plant 450,000 modified potatoes in British fields over the next five years, in a series of 10 trials. The set of emails and letters between Defra and the company reveal that officials repeatedly went to remarkable lengths to make sure the trial conditions, supposed to protect the environment and farmers, were "agreeable" to BASF.

On 29 September a department official emailed BASF to inform it of a recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre), its official advisers on risks to health and the environment from GM, that "the land should be left fallow for two years following each trial" and added "I would like to know whether you think that this is workable for you". The official pointed out that other EU countries had specified that "berries/true seed should be removed from the trial" but that Acre had "not specified this because the committee believes that this would be a very big job". The email went on: "If you think this is completely unworkable, I think the committee may be prepared to accommodate a reduction of this fallow period to one year but there may be other conditions (eg removal of flowers/berries)."

The writer added: "In addition to this, Acre has recommended a particular tillage regime, hopefully you are able to accommodate this."

On 6 October Defra sent BASF a draft of the consent to the trials, adding: "Please let me know whether or not the conditions as they stand would be agreeable to BASF or whether there are any conditions that would be difficult to meet."

BASF replied on 26 October that it believed that the "probable conditions" were "very agreeable to us", adding: "We hope that the final conditions will not change too much."

On 9 November Defra again emailed BASF to check that one of the conditions "does not affect your plans", and five days later was in touch again to say that it had "redrafted" another "in response to your concerns".

Yet the department insisted in a written statement last week: "There is no truth in any allegation that Defra was in any way influenced by BASF in relation to the terms under which BASF could conduct trials on GM potatoes in the UK."

Pete Riley, the campaign director of GM Freeze, said: "That is simply not correct. The documents clearly show that Defra colluded with BASF to ensure that Acre's conditions for growing their GM crop were to their liking. Its role is to protect the environment and public health. It is supposed to be a watchdog, but the documents reveal it to be the industry's lapdog."

Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative environment spokesman, added: "This is a government department that claims to be objective and science-based in its approach to biotechnology, but clearly it has bent over backwards to model its conditions on the requirements of BASF."

A spokesman for BASF said: "I do not think that they granted us any concessions that would not normally have been granted."

The funding disclosure came when the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) - which is funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills - revealed that it gave GBP39.3m to its seven sponsored institutes for research on "agricultural biotechnology" in 2006-07.

The sum has more than doubled, from GBP15.5m, since 1997, even though the prospects for GM crops in Britain have been declining in this period, with ministers admitting three years ago that none would be grown commercially "for the foreseeable future".

Besides this "core strategic grant", the BBSRC also gives tens of millions of pounds a year for similar research to universities and other institutes.

In 2003-04 this sum totalled GBP27.1m. The BBSRC told Friends of the Earth that it could not provide it with up-to-date information until January, unless it paid a fee of GBP750, because this "would take considerable effort, beyond the appropriate limit" to assemble. But the figure is believed not to have fallen over the past three years. On top of the BBSRC funding, Defra provided GBP12.6m for agricultural biotechnology research in 2005-06, the last year for which figures are available.

Nor is it clear how much money goes to genetic modification, since the BBSRC defines agricultural biotechnology as "the application of molecular genetic and other modern biological techniques to crops, livestock and disease-causing organisms".

It says it is not yet able to provide information on the proportion that has recently been devoted to GM, as opposed to other techniques. But figures on its website show that in 2000-01 about half of its core strategic grant to the seven institutes was spent on the technology.

In contrast, Defra spent GBP1.6m on research "relating to organic farming", while BBSRC refuses to provide any funds at all, saying it "does not fund applied work on entire farming systems".

It justifies spending so much taxpayers' money on GM before, as it admits, "there is any clear evidence that the public wants them" by saying that research must retain "the flexibility to remain competitive and to respond to changing global situations and changes in consumer demand".

Yet when the Government officially asked the public, four years ago, about their preferences, 86 per cent said they would not be happy to eat GM foods. By contrast, sales of organic produce rose by 22 per cent last year to break through the GBP2bn barrier. More than half of Britons now buy it, at least from time to time.

The BBSRC says that its funding for the research on GM crops would continue even if there was "a Europe-wide ban" on growing them commercially.

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth's food campaigner, said: "The Government's support for GM crops and foods is out of all proportion to its non-existent benefits, let alone the public's non-existent desire to consume them.

"Despite continually promising to support sustainable agriculture, it is spending tens of millions on a technology that has fallen flat on its face while starving organic farming, which is producing food that people want to buy.

"It is also staggering that there is no clear information in the public domain on exactly how much money is going into GM research, and that it has proved so hard to get even partial figures out into the light of day."



The Independent on Sunday, 28 October 2007. By Jonathan Owen.

The spectre of GM contamination has cost John Turner dear. A succession of trials near his 250 acre farm in Little Bytham, South Lincolnshire, between 2000 and 2002 forced him to stop growing certain crops - suffering heavy financial losses as a result.

"It was a nightmare and we just felt absolutely powerless to do anything over it at all," he recalled. "Without any real protection against contamination, we were forced to stop growing crops like maize that could be vulnerable to cross-pollination. It wasn't easy but it was preferable to the damage that could have been done if our crops were no longer GM-free. We feel that we are in remission at the moment, but every few months there seems to be a new PR push from the GM lobby."

The facts are being twisted to fit a commercial agenda, according to Mr Turner: "There is no sound science behind the push for GM crops. It's all about money and control of not only the seeds but also food production from one end to the other. The more I find out about it the less I understand why there has been this impetus to force this technology on farming. It has been hugely over-hyped by those trying to promote it. There are plenty of ways of improving crops that don't involve swapping genes around.

"But farmers could sleepwalk into using GM crops and by the time they realise the proposed benefits just aren't there they will not be in a position to go back to a GM-free style of agriculture - that's the danger and that's been the experience of farmers in other parts of the world."



The Sunday Times, October 28 2007. Jon Ungoed-Thomas.

THE biggest study into organic food has found that it is more nutritious than ordinary produce and may help to lengthen people's lives.

The evidence from the GBP12m four-year project will end years of debate and is likely to overturn government advice that eating organic food is no more than a lifestyle choice.

The study found that organic fruit and vegetables contained as much as 40% more antioxidants, which scientists believe can cut the risk of cancer and heart disease, Britain's biggest killers. They also had higher levels of beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.

Professor Carlo Leifert, the co-ordinator of the European Union-funded project, said the differences were so marked that organic produce would help to increase the nutrient intake of people not eating the recommended five portions a day of fruit and vegetables. "If you have just 20% more antioxidants and you can‚t get your kids to do five a day, then you might just be okay with four a day," he said.

This weekend the Food Standards Agency confirmed that it was reviewing the evidence before deciding whether to change its advice. Ministers and the agency have said there are no significant differences between organic and ordinary produce.

Researchers grew fruit and vegetables and reared cattle on adjacent organic and nonorganic sites on a 725-acre farm attached to Newcastle University, and at other sites in Europe. They found that levels of antioxidants in milk from organic herds were up to 90% higher than in milk from conventional herds.

As well as finding up to 40% more antioxidants in organic vegetables, they also found that organic tomatoes from Greece had significantly higher levels of antioxidants, including flavo-noids thought to reduce coronary heart disease. Leifert said the government was wrong about there being no difference between organic and conventional produce. "There is enough evidence now that the level of good things is higher in organics," he said.



The Sunday Times, October 28 2007. Jon Ungoed-Thomas.

ITS unassuming location belies its importance. Sandwiched between Hadrian's Wall and the busy A69 road to Newcastle upon Tyne is a 725-acre farm that will help to determine the nation‚s future eating habits.

In a unique experiment, its rolling pastures and ploughed fields have been split into two so that conventional and organic produce can be grown side by side. It has enabled scientists to test the alternative foods rigorously and answer a question that most shoppers ask themselves on a regular basis: is buying organic better for you?

Findings from the GBP12m European Union-funded project, the biggest of its kind and the first to investigate systematically the physiology of produce from the different farming techniques, will be peer reviewed and published over the next 12 months.

But already one conclusion is clear: organically produced crops and dairy milk usually contain more "beneficial compounds" - such as vitamins and antioxidants believed to help to combat disease.

"We have a general trend in the data that says there are more good things in organic food," said Professor Carlo Leifert, leader of the QualityLowInput-Food (QLIF) project. "We are now trying to identify the agricultural practices that are responsible for this."

The research has shown up to 40% more beneficial compounds in vegetable crops and up to 90% more in milk. It has also found high levels of minerals such as iron and zinc in organic produce.

The findings from the farm, which is part of Newcastle University, appear to conflict with the official government advice that buying organic food is a lifestyle choice and there is no clear evidence that it is "more nutritious than other food".

The new research comes after a seven-year stand-off between the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the organic sector over the nutritional benefits of organic food. Lord Krebs, the FSA's first chairman, even said that organic food may not be good value for consumers.

The organic market has boomed in recent years, growing by 25% annually on average, and is now worth nearly GBP2 billion a year. Organic produce is typically about 30% more expensive, although for products such as cherry tomatoes and carrots it is almost double the price. Supermarket organic milk is 18% more expensive.

The FSA has recently offered a more conciliatory approach to organic groups such as the Soil Association. One internal e-mail, sent on August 1, 2006 and obtained under freedom of information laws, states: "[There is] a perception among a range of stakeholders that the agency is antiorganic. Part of the action to address this is to change the tone of our statements."

However, the agency has not changed its scientific advice. As David Miliband, then the environment secretary, told The Sunday Times last January: "It's a lifestyle choice that people can make. There isn‚t any conclusive evidence either way."

However, the evidence of the nutritional differences has been mounting. Last summer a 10-year study by the University of California comparing organic tomatoes with those grown conventionally found double the level of flavonoids - a type of antioxidant thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. Other studies show milk having higher levels of omega3 fatty acids, thought to boost health.

Over the past four years, the QLIF project, involving 33 academic centres across Europe and led by Newcastle University, has analysed the 725-acre farm's produce for compounds believed to boost health and combat disease.

Like other studies, the results show significant variations, with some conventional crops having larger quantities of some vitamins than organic crops. But researchers confirm that the overall trend is that organic fruit, vegetables and milk are more likely to have beneficial compounds. According to Leifert, the compounds which have been found in greater quantities in organic produce include vitamin C, trace elements such as iron, copper and zinc, and secondary metabolites which are thought to help to combat cancer and heart disease.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said the research could help to contribute to a "seismic" change in the food industry: "If you know there are significant nutritional differences in these foods, any sensible citizen would conclude it must have health implications."

Andrew Wadge, the FSA's chief scientist, said the agency had ordered a review of evidence on the nutritional content of organic and conventional produce. He said that even if the review found significant differences, the government would still need to assess any possible impact on health.

He added that the debate over the relative benefits of organic food should not blur the key message on diet and health. "The organic brand has been hugely successful," he said. "But the most important issue is not whether people are eating organic or not, but whether they are eating a healthy balanced diet."



Deutsche Welle, 27 October 2007

France is the latest EU country reluctant to use genetically-modified crops with President Sarkozy suspending their cultivation. The issue remains a subject of heated debate in the EU's largest agricultural producer.

France lags behind its European neighbours on environmental issues such as recycling and using renewable sources of energy. But this week environmentalists were full of praise for French President Nicolas Sarkozy for saying no GMO crops would be planted in France until the government had received the results of an evaluation by a new authority on GMOs set to be launched later this year.

Green campaigners have long warned of the dangers of GMO crops, saying they are potentially toxic since the seeds have been genetically modified to resist pests and weeds.

"Instead of spraying pesticides and herbicides, the toxins are produced in all of the plant's cells," said Geert Ritsema, a Greenpeace International anti-GMO campaigner in Amsterdam, who attended a high-profile environmental submit convened by Sarkozy.

The conference, attended by former US vice president and Nobel laureate Al Gore and head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, was in keeping with Sarkozy's election pledge to put green matters at the top of the French government's agenda.

Sarkozy stopped short of an outright ban on all GMOs, which would have contravened EU agricultural rules, and stressed that his move does not call for halting biotech research.

Critics say GMOs unsafe and toxic

The future of GMOs has long been the subject of heated debate in France with powerful farming lobbies and environmentalists at loggerheads over the safety and viability of using GMO crops.

In the EU, the MON810 corn variety, which is produced by US-based biotech firm Monsanto, is the only GMO maize that has been approved for cultivation.

Although the GMO share of total maize production in France, the EU's largest agricultural producing country, is barely 1.5 percent this year, maize growing increased fivefold from only 0.3 percent in 2006. Some farmers have urged greater use of GMO crops to boost yields.

Green lobbyists say GMOs contaminate conventional crops and create imbalances in the ecosystem where wildlife has to coexist with farming.

"You have a built-in insecticide that is part of the plant's genetic make-up, which not only kills pests," said Adrian Bebb, a GM food expert at the Munich-based Friends of the Earth Europe. "Pollen from maize falls into streams and impacts on ecologically useful or harmless insects, such as butterflies," he explained.

Greenpeace says that even though GMO maize is primarily used as animal feed in Europe, the toxicity of such crops could have unforeseen longer term health implications for humans. When one type of maize was fed to rats in a laboratory study at the University of Caen, their immune system was weakened.

Agricultural lobby pooh-poohs claims

Still, GMO soya, corn and oil seeds have been widely planted by farmers all over the world in the last decade or so, with more than 90 percent of the global supply coming from the US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.

Multi-national companies that supply the seeds argue that health risks have not been scientifically proven and biotechnological processes are kinder to the environment since they reduce the need for fertilizer and chemical killers.

Pascal Ferey, vice-president of SNSEA, a union which represents big industry agriculture interests in France said that environmental groups are using scare tactics by misrepresenting the hazards of GMO crops to the public, which are unfounded in his view.

"We consume GMO traces everyday in our meat, cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup without even knowing about it. How many shoppers truly read the labels down to the last detail when they buy groceries?" he asked.

Maiz Europ, an association of French maize growers was also critical of how ecological groups have manipulated public opinion and health studies to support their views.

"Do you think Brussels would have authorized GMO seeds if they were so dangerous?" asked spokesman Pascal Hurbault, who pointed out that gene techniques have been the best defense against two particularly voracious rootworms that have ravaged maize crops in southwest France.

European GMO skepticism in stark contrast to US

France becomes the latest European country to voice doubts over the use of GMOs. Several European Union countries have dug in their heels on whether their farmers may grow MON 810 maize.

Hungary, one of the EU-27's biggest grain producers, banned the planting of MON 810 seed in January 2005. Germany earlier this year decided that maize produced from MON 810 seeds could only be sold if there was an accompanying monitoring plan to research its effects on the environment.

Austria too could face an attempt by European Union regulators to force it to lift bans on two GMO maize types.

This past Wednesday, the European Commission authorized three more corn varieties and a sugar beet to enter the market, but the GMO crop seeds will be imported, not grown in Europe.

The raging debate over the future of GMOs in Europe is in sharp contrast to the United States, where GMO technology is much more widely accepted.

Genetically modified ingredients have found their way onto supermarket shelves in the form of cooking oils and processed foods, said Bebb of Friend of the Earth Europe.

"Since GMO labeling is not required in the US, consumers don't know what is in their food," he said.

Campaigners agree that there is more awareness in European nations about the dangers of genetically-modified food partly due to the fact that food producers are required by the EU to label products containing GMO ingredients. Various opinion polls show that at least 80 percent of the French public are against GMO foods, which are viewed as unnatural and unhealthy.

Despite the strong passions evoked by GM crops among both advocates and critics, most have welcomed Sarkozy's push for a leadership role on environmental issues that has long been neglected by his predecessors at the Elysée Palace.

Some point out that France's policy shift on GMOs will also have implications for the rest of the EU. "Earlier the government was under pressure from industry groups to be pro-GMO," said Bebb. "So the precautionary shift now in Sarkozy's tone is a seismic one."


"Je veux revenir sur le dossier des OGM : la vérité est que nous avons des doutes sur l'intérét actuel des OGM pesticides ; la vérité est que nous avons des doutes sur le contrôle de la dissémination des OGM ; la vérité est que nous avons des doutes sur les bénéfices sanitaires et environnementaux des OGM." - President Nicolas Sarkozy



Reuters, 26 October 2007. By Sybille de La Hamaide

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday he would suspend the planting of genetically modified (GMO) pest-resistant crops until the results of an appraisal of the issue later this year or early in 2008.

Unveiling the country's new environment policy, Sarkozy said no GMO crops would be planted in France until the government had received the results of an evaluation by a new authority on GMOs set to be launched later this year.

"I don't want to be in contradiction with EU laws, but I have to make a choice. In line of the precautionary principle, I wish that the commercial cultivation of genetically modified pesticide GMOs be suspended," he said.

The only GMO crop grown in the European Union is a maize using the so-called MON 810 technology developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, which is designed to resist the European corn borer, a pest that attacks maize stalks and thrives in warmer climates in southern EU countries.

Monsanto says the protein contained in its maize has selective toxicity but is harmless to humans, fish and wildlife.

Just 22,000 hectares -- 1.5 percent of France's cultivated maize land -- have been sown with GMO maize this year but some farmers have urged greater use of GMO crops to boost yields.

During a visit to Paris on Wednesday, European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said a full ban on GMO crops would clearly go against the rules and that France would lose in court if it implemented such a ban.

Research to continue

The future of GMOs has long been the subject of heated debate in France and its reluctance, along with other European countries, to use GMO crops compares starkly with the United States, which has a far higher take-up of GMO technology.

A ban on GMO maize growing for the coming months would not affect maize production in France because sowings do not take place until spring.

Sarkozy stressed that his move did not mean a halt to GMO research.

"This suspension of commercial cultivation of pesticide GMOs does not mean -- I want to be clear on this -- that we must condemn all GMOs, notably future GMOs," he said.

During his election campaign last year, Sarkozy said he had "doubts and reservations" about the commercial use of GMO products which for him "had little interest", but he stressed that he had wanted research to continue.

Several European Union countries have dug in their heels on whether their farmers may grow MON 810 maize, one of Europe's oldest GMO crops.

Hungary, one of the EU-27's biggest grain producers, outlawed the planting of MON 810 seed in January 2005.

Germany earlier this year decided that maize produced from MON 810 seeds could only be sold if there was an accompanying monitoring plan to research its effects on the environment.

And Austria may soon face a third attempt by EU regulators to force it to lift bans on two GMO maize types, including Monsanto's MON 810 and T25 maize made by German drugs and chemicals group Bayer.



Friends of the Earth Europe / Greenpeace press release
Thursday 25th October 2007

Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace have today welcomed the news that EU Environment Commissioner Dimas is for the first time proposing to ban two types of genetically modified (GM) maize because of the risks they pose to the environment. The green groups urge the whole of the European Commission to put environmental safety first and support the proposed ban.[1]

The two GM maize varieties (Syngenta's Bt11 and Pioneer/Dow's 1507) are engineered to produce a toxin (commonly called Bt) that is poisonous to certain insect pests. However, scientific studies show that these GM maize are toxic to certain butterfly species and may also affect other beneficial insects and have long term negative effects on soil health.

The proposal is apparently based on clear scientific evidence proving that the cultivation of these two GM crops has the potential to cause environmental harm. Commissioners Mandelson (Trade), Verheugen (Industry) and Fischer Boel (Agriculture) are among a small group of Commissioners that are expected to oppose the proposal and the application of the precautionary principle to this case.

Several scientists have recently published studies showing that the effects of GM Bt maize are far from predictable and that their potential risk is greater then previously thought. These studies demonstrate that the current EU risk assessment procedure is not able to evaluate the risks posed by GM Bt crops.[2]

An announcement is expected shortly as to whether France will also ban a Bt maize on similar environmental grounds.

In addition, during the World Trade Organisation dispute over GM products, the EU had already argued that Bt crops should not be currently grown because of the incomplete knowledge about their long-term environmental impact. [3]

Friends of the Earth Europe's GMO campaigner, Adrian Bebb said:

"This is a major blow to the GM industry. For the first time there is a European Commission proposal that GM crops should not be approved in Europe - and crucially this relates to two maize varieties for commercial growing. The Commission has raised serious concerns about the environmental impact of growing these crops."

Greenpeace GMO Policy Director, Marco Contiero said:

"The Commission has no other option than to reject the authorisation of these GM crops if it intends to comply with EU provisions on risk assessment and the precautionary principle. If, on the other hand, it authorises the cultivation of these crops, caving in to pressure from Commissioners with a pro-GMO agenda, it would be bluntly violating EU law and new scientific findings."

For more information, please contact:

Adrian Bebb: Friends of the Earth +49 8025 99 91 51 mobile +49 1609 490 1163

Marco Contiero: Greenpeace EU Unit, Policy Director - GMOs +32 2 274 1906 mobile +32477777034


[1] See http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRU00606620071025

[2] For example:

Recent research shows that GM crops producing Bt toxins could seriously affect aquatic ecosystems, since pollen and agricultural wastes from Bt maize enter streams where they may become toxic to aquatic life. This toxicity pathway for Bt toxins has not been considered previously

The level of Bt toxin produced by one of these GM varieties varies strongly between different locations and between plants on the same field. The reasons for these differences are not known. This raises serious questions about the current capacity to assess the impact of Bt toxins on the environment.

Unexpectedly, another recent study found that one type of GM Bt maize has significant higher amino acid levels compared to its non-GM counterpart, which made it much more susceptible to aphid infestation. Again this is another demonstration that Bt maize is subject to unexpected and unpredictable negative effects.

(All references to the studies are available from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace)

[3] European Communities - Measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products (DS291, DS292, DS293). Comments by the European Communities on the scientific and technical advice to the panel. 28 January 2005. See Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace summary: http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2006...certainties.pdf

Michael O’Callaghan

Little Alders
Knockrath, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
tel: + 353 404 43 885
fax: + 353 404 43 887
mobile: + 353 87 799 4761
email: mail@gmfreeireland.org
website: www.gmfreeireland.org

Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Dec 12 2007, 10:32 AM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

A further posting from the Irish GM group - which , again, is highly readible. though to be honest you don't want to read this if you are about to go to bed or wish to feel good about anything much.......


BrazilMag.com, 11 December 2007. By Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero.

As genetically modified soybeans take over vast tracts in Brazil and all over South America and reports flow in of genetic contamination of local corn in Mesoamerica, grassroots resistance to biotech crops has also grown.

The protests form part of people's movements across the hemisphere that tie together a rejection of neoliberalism and agribusiness, and call for land reform, food sovereignty, and sustainable agriculture.

Genetically Modified Crops: Myth and Reality

It is a common misconception that genetically modified (GM) crops were created to fight world hunger. In reality, the great majority were developed not for increased yields or enhanced nutritional value but for herbicide resistance.

This type of agriculture destroys plant diversity - most of the land area in the world devoted to GM crops is planted with only one crop: soy. And this GM soy has been developed by a single corporation, U.S.-based Monsanto, with a single trait in mind: resistance to Monsanto's own Roundup herbicide - hence its name, Roundup Ready.

Put another way, GM crops, which have been planted commercially since the mid-1990's, have been developed for the most part with the sole purpose of increasing Monsanto's sales of its seeds and herbicide by allowing it to sell both as an integrated package.

Most of this soy is fed not to people in poor countries but to feedlot cattle in the United States, Western Europe, and China, to make beef that the world's poor cannot afford. The remainder is channeled mostly to industrial uses, such as the manufacture of ink, soap, and glue.

The little that's left ends up as soy additives found in over half of all processed foods, such as bread, chocolate, and mayonnaise. Now an increasing portion of the worldwide soy crop is being used to make biodiesel.

Monsanto has very few competitors. The global seed business has become so concentrated in the last two decades that less than half a dozen corporations in the world present any substantial competition. These include the U.S.-based DuPont and Dow Agroscience, and European corporations Syngenta and Bayer Cropscience.

Monsanto is not only the biggest corporate player in the GM seed business, it recently became the world's biggest seed company, trailed closely by DuPont. In the mid 1970's there were around 7,000 seed companies and not one of them had even 0.5% of the world market.

Nowadays 10 corporations control 49% of the world seed market, and all of them are in the race to develop and commercialize GM varieties.

Nowhere in the world have the effects of GM crops been felt as intensely as in South America. Soybeans currently take up over 16 million hectares (61,776 square miles) of farmland in Argentina - more than 10 times the area of the state of Connecticut, and over 20 million hectares (77,220 sq. mi.) in Brazil (just over one-fifth of Brazil's total cultivated land and almost a third of the state of Texas).

Bolivia and Paraguay together account for at least three million hectares of soy (11,583 sq. mi.) . Soybeans are also making significant inroads into Uruguayan agriculture.

Almost all of the soy grown in South America is Roundup Ready. The reason for this has to do with the technological and biological realities of soy farming. Massive soy monocultures are made viable and cost-effective by no-till direct seeding machinery. However, no-till farming creates an ideal environment for weeds, which is why soy monocultures are herbicide-intensive.

The development of genetically engineered RR soy seeds allows farm workers to apply Monsanto's Roundup herbicide without worrying about it damaging the soy crop. Therefore, the GM herbicide resistance trait makes soy monocultures commercially viable.

Roundup's Toxicity

Although the biotech companies assure that herbicides should not pose public health or environmental hazards if used properly, researchers Miguel Altieri and Walter Pengue state that in practice it is a different story. In large-scale herbicide-resistant GM crops, herbicide is sprayed from airplanes and much of what is sprayed is wasted through drift and leaching.

Research shows that glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient, caused retarded development of the fetal skeleton in laboratory rats; it also inhibits the synthesis of steroids, and is genotoxic in mammals, fish, and frogs. Field dose exposure of earthworms caused at least 50% mortality and significant intestinal damage among surviving worms.

As for human health effects, Roundup has been found to cause dysfunctional cell division that may be linked to cancers, and children born to users of glyphosate had elevated neurobehavioral defects.

In Ontario, Canada, epidemiological research found that glyphosate exposure almost doubles the risk of miscarriages in advanced pregnancies. And a French team led by Caen University biochemist Gilles-Eric Seralini discovered that human placental cells are very sensitive to Roundup, and that even in very low doses glyphosate can disrupt the endocrine system.

Social and Environmental Costs

The soy boom, lauded as a success story by landowners, agribusiness, biotechnology corporations, and South American governments, has come at an enormous environmental and social cost.

"Large-scale soybean monocultures have rendered Amazonian soils unusable," according to professors Miguel Altieri and Walter Pengue of the Universities of California and Buenos Aires respectively. "The production of herbicide-resistant soybean leads to environmental problems such as deforestation, soil degradation, and pesticide and genetic contamination."

"Soy means monoculture and huge mechanized farms," informs GRAIN, an international NGO that advocates the sustainable use of biodiversity. "As a result, soy has done enormous environmental damage, causing the destruction of 21 million hectares of forest in Brazil, 14 million in Argentina, and two million in Paraguay."

The effect of soy farming on soil fertility is severe. In areas of poor soils, fertilizers and lime have to be applied heavily within two years of soy cultivation, say Altieri and Pengue. Throughout the continent, spreading soy production affects land use, environment, and society.


"In Bolivia, soybean production is expanding toward the East, and in many areas soils are already compacted and suffering severe soil degradation. One hundred thousand hectares of soybean-exhausted soils were abandoned for cattle grazing, which in turn further degrades the land. As land is abandoned, farmers move to other areas where they again plant soybeans and repeat the vicious cycle of soil degradation," Altieri and Pengue elaborate in their report.

The expansion of soy in Bolivia over the past 15 years has caused the deforestation of over one million hectares, informs the Network for a GM-free Bolivia (Red por una Bolivia Libre de Transgénicos). According to a 2006 document by the Network, which was endorsed by over two dozen civil society organizations, the deforestation rate for soybean planting in Bolivia is almost 60,000 hectares (231 sq. mi.) a year.

"If this deforestation rate continues, the forests in the soy zones run the risk of disappearing. Such is the case of San Julián, one of the main soy-producing municipalities in (the department of) Santa Cruz, where - if the current deforestation continues - its forests will become extinct in less than nine years."

The Amazon Basin

GM soy cultivation also endangers the Amazon region, with its wealth of planetary biodiversity. GRAIN issued a dire warning in 2007:

"Unless the Brazilian government takes decisive action to prevent it, soy is likely to take over most of the Amazon basin over the next decade. Within just a few years the relentless advance of the agricultural frontier into the Amazon basin is likely to push the tropical forest over the critical 'tipping point' so that it starts to dry out and turn into savannah. Then, indeed, there will be no stopping the farmers, who will see no reason at all for not making economic use of the moribund forest.

The group points out that loss of the Amazon to soy deforestation contributes heavily to global warming. "As the forest dies, hundreds of thousands of river dwellers, peasant families, and indigenous people will be disinherited, and the world will lose an extraordinary biomass, which plays a key role in regulating the global climate. Just as serious, the destruction of the Amazon forest will release some 90 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, enough by itself to increase the rate of global warming by 50%. "


Protesters in Paraguay hold up a sign reading "Soy Kills" in response to the huge monocultures in their country, one of the world's biggest soy producers.

The human cost of GM soy's "success" has been particularly extreme for the Paraguayan peasantry. Paraguay is the world's fourth largest exporter of soy - soy production quadruped from 1989 to 2006. Soybeans are planted on two million hectares (almost two-thirds of the country's farmland), and soy cultivation is expanding at an estimated annual rate of 250,000 hectares a year (965 sq. mi.).

The Paraguay soy boom came about at the expense of around 90,000 families of peasants and indigenous peoples that were forced off their lands. Those displaced by soy farms end up living in shantytowns on the outer edges of major cities, or squatting in private lands, or resisting eviction.

The country can hardly afford to displace and marginalize more people; 85% of Paraguayans live in poverty while 80% of the land is in the hands of the richest 1% of the population.

The government and land owners have responded to the social havoc caused by the expansion of soy with paramilitary violence carried out by the so-called "citizen guard." This extra-official force is composed of approximately 13,000 trained and armed members, and their illegal practices include "break-ins, torture, and detention of those who do not accept the new illegal order that they impose through terror and violence," said the Grupo de Reflexión Rural (GRR), an NGO that tracks and documents the impacts of industrial agriculture, particularly GM crops.

"The citizen guard, which works with the complicity of the interior ministry, is linked to land owners and soy growers ... and has as its main objective the persecution of campesino leaders."

"Given that the agrarian reform is not enforced, many landless peasants exercise their rights through acts of civil disobedience. The state's response has many times been repression and violence, turning protests and grievances into felonies and the poor into delinquents," said Rita Zanotto of Via Campesina, an organization that represents tens of millions of peasants and small farmers worldwide.


In Argentina, the RR soy model has been imposed since the 1990's to generate revenue to pay the foreign debt and to supply the demand of European countries and China for livestock feed. The GRR reports, "With this model, Argentina, which once claimed to be the world's granary, today has become a forage republic and doesn't have the capacity to feed its own population, and it cannot solve its huge unemployment problem because its economy is designed to favor the export of raw materials.

"The soy model has depopulated the territory, liquidated rural populations, and destroyed the tradition, culture, and attachment of millions of Argentines to the land. This model has turned our cities into unsafe megalopolises on the verge of collapse. It has razed our native forests, polluted the main basins with toxic agrochemicals, has deteriorated the soils, and is a grave threat to our biodiversity and our phytogenetic heritage."


Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is the only Latin American head of state opposed to GM crops, a stance that accompanies the Chavez government's land reform program. Chavez has proposed the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA), an anti-imperialist alternative to the neoliberal Free Trade Area of the Americas and regional and bilateral trade agreements pushed by the United States.

The Chavez government has consulted with internationally renowned agroecologists such as Miguel Altieri, and fully supports the concept of food sovereignty championed by Via Campesina and articulated in the 2007 World Forum on Food Sovereignty in Africa.

However, in apparent contradiction with the above, Chavez is an avid supporter of soy monocultures. During a trip to Paraguay in 2006 he proposed a united South American front for the production and consumption of soy.

"In some of our countries (soy) grows with ease and is an important oilseed from which one can produce beef, oil, milk, and yogurt, among other foodstuffs," said the Venezuelan president in Asunción, Paraguay's capital. "We must stimulate our own production because the United States subsidizes their crop."

Argentina and Venezuela have an agreement by which Argentina acquires Venezuelan oil in exchange for farm machinery and agricultural technical expertise provided by Argentina's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INTA).

The GRR has been closely watching Venezuela's flirtation with soy, and has repeatedly warned that soybean monocultures are incompatible with land reform, food sovereignty, and environmental protection, and make penetration by GM seed practically inevitable.

The organization points out that INTA was formed after the 1955 coup that overthrew Perón to promote U.S.-style industrial agriculture along with associated inputs such as pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, and more recently, GM seeds.

GRR notes the prominent role of Argentinean soybean czar Gustavo Grobocopatel in selling Chávez the "soy miracle." Grobocopatel, president of Grupo Los Grobo, Argentina's leading agribusiness corporation, frequently travels to Venezuela and organized the Expo Barinas farm equipment fair there in 2005.

"We are convinced that the technologies that Argentina takes to [Venezuela] through INTA and agribusiness personalities, are elements that will end up favoring and empowering the sectors that are most reactionary, and antagonistic to the agrarian revolution, and its orientation toward local and peasant production," declared GRR in April 2007.

"That a person such as Grobocopatel proclaims his links to the Bolivarian revolution is enough motive for us to worry and raise our voice in defense of Venezuela and its people and our common future." The GRR has repeatedly tried to communicate its concerns to the Venezuelan government but to no avail so far.

Costa Rican "GM-Free Zones"

Three cantons (municipalities) in Costa Rica have declared themselves GM-free zones. These GM-free declarations are the product of "the brave decision of municipal councils and the valuable work of community organizations," said Fabián Pacheco of the Central American Alliance for Biodiversity Protection. "[This] work goes beyond resisting the introduction of GM organisms to make a profound call for the promotion of agroecological practices, of good nutrition, and the construction of communities truly free of corporate conceits that try to control everything, free to choose what's best for the inhabitants of the region."

Pacheco added that "The struggle against GM organisms permits us to build the bases of the resistance against the new agroindustrial model that destroys the food sovereignty of local communities."

Food Sovereignty

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.

It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral, and fisheries systems determined by local producers and users.

Food sovereignty prioritizes local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution, and consumption based on environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just incomes to all peoples as well as the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock, and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social and economic classes, and generations.

Mexico: The GM Invasion

Since the 1990's many scientists had warned that GM crops cannot be contained. Once planted in the open, they said, these would uncontrollably spread either through pollination or seed dispersal, with potentially unpredictable and irreversible consequences. "Seeds will be our only recourse if the prevailing belief in the safety of genetic engineering proves wrong," advised the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Heedlessly allowing the contamination of traditional plant varieties with genetically engineered sequences amounts to a huge wager on our ability to understand a complicated technology that manipulates life at the most elemental level. Unless some part of our seed supply is preserved free of genetically engineered sequences, our ability to change course if genetic engineering goes awry will be severely hampered." Biotech companies repeatedly assured that such genetic contamination would never happen.

But in 2001, University of California researchers Ignacio Chapela and David Quist reported in the scientific journal Nature that traditional varieties of corn in rural southern Mexico had been genetically contaminated with GM corn traits.

The main culprit was the North America Free Trade Agreement, which entered into effect in 1994. NAFTA turned Mexico into a net importer of corn, with almost all imports coming from the United States. From being self-sufficient in corn, the country went on to become the United States' second biggest corn importer, buying 11% of its exports in 2000.

Approximately 75% of the U.S. corn harvest is genetically modified. GM corn began to be planted commercially in the United States soon after NAFTA came into effect. Mexican environmentalists and scientists worried that the flood of corn coming from across the border contained GM seeds, which could contaminate their country's invaluable agricultural seed heritage.

The Mexican government responded to these concerns in 1998 by imposing a moratorium on the planting of GM corn. The following year it formed CIBIOGEM, an interagency committee to enforce the moratorium and investigate any issues related to GM crops. But the ban did not prohibit importing GM corn. In 1999 Greenpeace activists took samples of U.S. corn shipments being unloaded in Mexican docks. Lab tests turned out positive for GM content.

Corn covers one-fifth of U.S. crop land, far more than any other crop. According to the U.S. Grains Council, the United States produces about 44% of the world's corn - more than China, the European Union, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico combined.

Iowa alone produces about as much as the European Union. Corn also receives far more federal subsidies than any other crop. One-fifth of the U.S. corn harvest is sold abroad, and according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, sells internationally at 13% below the cost of production, undercutting foreign producers.

According to Oaxacan indigenous leader Aldo González, "The contamination of corn is a sad fact that we cannot ignore. It is a deep wound that puts all of humanity at risk and only benefits large transnational corporations that want to impose on us a model of consumption that privileges their interests ... For the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, corn is our blood. Without corn we are nothing."

"The pollution was no chance act, but a well thought-out and conscious strategy which simply took a little while to play itself out," accused GRAIN. "None could deny that the natural course of any seed is inevitably to spread. That is what makes a seed a seed. Nor could anyone deny that maize is naturally an open pollinator. Any farmer knows that. Put a genetically-modified maize variety into a highly diverse, maize-intensive small-farmer area and it will be just a matter of time for the new variety to join the pool and for contamination to occur."

In view of the genetic contamination of Mexican corn, biotech industry consultant Don Westfall spoke perhaps a little too candidly when he let out that "The hope of industry is that over time the market is so flooded that there's nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender."

The industry and its advocates engaged in a persistent and prolonged campaign to discredit Chapela and Quist and to pressure Nature magazine, where their study was published, to retract it. Faced with a barrage of criticism from pro-industry scientists, Nature published in its April 4, 2002 issue, an editorial note on the Chapela-Quist study stating that "evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper." Biotech advocates celebrated the editorial note but they neglected to mention the editorial in Nature's June 27, 2002 issue, which said that the Chapela-Quist study "was not formally retracted by its authors or by Nature."

The Mexican government moratorium on GM corn planting has remained in place, but biotechnology corporations and their local allies, like Agrobio, are pressuring for the approval of plantings for "experimental purposes." Their rationale is contained in a proposal called the Teacher of Corn Project.

Critics allege that this project is deeply flawed and scientifically unsound, as the proposed studies do not cover controversial subjects like GM corn's effect on biodiversity or local corn varieties. They point out that the experiments in question would take place in carefully controlled experimental settings that bear no relation to real world situations.

The studies "do not even take into account the enormous multiplicity of factors that exist in the real environment of Mexico or its enormous cultural diversity," says Silvia Ribeiro. Furthermore, they claim that the proposed measures to prevent contamination are so complicated, cumbersome, and hard to verify that they would not be viable in actual corn production situations.

According to Ribeiro, the real agenda of the Teacher of Corn Project is to accelerate and further the process of genetic contamination and to use the "experiments" as a stepping stone to approval for commercial GM corn production. "There is no country in the world with GM crops that has not been contaminated. The contamination is inevitable and therefore intentional. It serves corporate interests by creating de facto situations so that everyone has to accept GM crops."

Are Bt Crops Reliable and Safe?

The GM corn in the market today is either herbicide-tolerant (Roundup Ready), or of the insect-resistant Bt variety, or of stacked-gene varieties that combine both Roundup Ready and Bt genes. Bt crops, which also include cotton, contain a gene, taken from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium, that codifies the secretion of an insecticidal toxin.

Farmers planting Bt crops are supposed to benefit, as they would not need to spray pesticides for pests like the corn borer. But, are these crops performing as advertised? Are they environmentally safe? The data available are cause for concern.

A USDA Economic Research Service study carried out in 1999 showed no statistically significant difference in pesticide use between Bt and non-Bt crops. In fact, it found that in the Mississippi Delta, significantly more pesticides were sprayed on Bt crops. But the greatest problem is the development of pest resistance to the Bt toxin, warns UC Professor Miguel Altieri, "No serious entomologist questions whether resistance will develop or not. The question is, how fast?"

Bt crops can also harm beneficial insects and adversely affect soil ecology. The harmful effects of Bt crops on beneficial insects were documented at least as far back as 1999, when research led by Charles Losey of Cornell University discovered that Bt corn pollen was toxic to monarch butterflies under laboratory conditions. Losey came under withering attack by pro-industry scientists, but his critics ignore that subsequent research confirmed that Bt crops are indeed hazardous to "non-target" species.

"The potential of Bt toxins moving through insect food chains poses serious implications," warns Altieri. "Recent evidence shows that the Bt toxin can affect beneficial insect predators that feed on insect pests present on Bt crops ... the toxins produced by the Bt plants may be passed on to predators and parasitoids via pollen. No one has analyzed the consequences of such transfers on the myriad of natural enemies that depend on pollen for reproduction and longevity.

"Research has shown that Bt crops adversely affect ladybugs that eat Colorado potato beetles, a major potato pest, and lacewing larvae that fed on pests that were fed Bt corn had a strikingly high mortality rate. Furthermore, the Bt toxin persists in the soil for months, by binding to clay and soil particles. It has been found to persist for as long as 234 days."

Biotech Industry Praises Puerto Rico Governor

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) named Puerto Rico governor Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá "Governor of the Year" during its 2006 annual convention, held in Chicago.

"Among his recent achievements, Gov. Acevedo-Vilá signed an Executive Order making the promotion and development of the biotechnology industry a public policy priority; instituted an inter-agency task force to address permitting issues for biotechnology companies on a fast-track basis; and, signed a proclamation creating the first annual biotechnology week," gushed the BIO in a press release.

"Acevedo-Vilá and his administration have been champions of building a strong bioscience industry presence in Puerto Rico," said BIO Vice President Patrick Kelly. "Not only does Puerto Rico have the third largest biologic manufacturing capacity in the world, but the Commonwealth also has a significant agricultural industry presence. (His) administration has been successful in creating an environment that will lead Puerto Rico into the forefront of the bioscience industry development well into the new millennium."

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that Puerto Rico has more open-air GM crop experiments per square mile than any jurisdiction in the United States, with the possible exception of Hawaii.

"These are outdoor, uncontrolled experiments," said Bill Freese, of Friends of the Earth USA. "These experimental GE (genetically engineered) traits are almost certainly contaminating conventional crops just as the commercialized GE traits are. And the experimental GE crops aren't even subject to the cursory rubber-stamp 'approval' process that commercialized GE crops go through - so I think the high concentration of experimental GE crop trials in Puerto Rico is definitely cause for concern."

Small Farmers Fight Back

In March 2005, an international multistakeholder conference on the impacts of soy monocultures took place in the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu, near the Paraguayan and Argentinean borders. The conference, organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), had the full participation of agribusiness interests and sought not to counter the expansion of soy but to establish sustainability criteria for increased production.

Its organizers intended to put these environmental guidelines to the test in Argentina's "100 million-ton harvest" project, an initiative of Fundación Vida Silvestre, WWF's local chapter in Argentina. A harvest that large would require 10 million additional hectares (38,610 sq. mi.) to be added to soy production.

Hundreds of protesters from Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay convened outside the hotel where the "Sustainable Soy Roundtable" was taking place and denounced the initiative as a farce intended to greenwash massive soybean production that could never be made sustainable.

Under the pretext of conserving regions high in biodiversity, WWF seeks to "legitimize the expansion of industrial monocultures of GM soy and the introduction of feedlot cattle and dairy production," accused the protesters in an open letter. The signers described the roundtable as a strategy of "green" capitalism to satisfy market demand abroad and service the illegitimate external debt, while ignoring domestic food demand.

The letter goes on to denounce the "100 million-ton harvest" for implying "war against indigenous and campesino communities that are resisting the advance of industrial corporate agriculture."

The Roundtable continues to meet in various locations in the Southern Cone, although its organizers now call their concept "Responsible Soy." They aim to formulate a system of certification for the environmentally and socially responsible production of soy.

Their objectives include improvement of labor conditions, responsible use of agrochemicals, respect for the land rights of local peoples, and to make soy production compatible with the conservation of biodiversity, water, and soil. But so far the Roundtable has yet to come up with concrete proposals.

"The Roundtable is one grand publicity bluff," said Javiera Rulli of Base Investigaciones Sociales, a Paraguayan NGO. "They have been at it for almost three years and they have achieved nothing."

Terminating Terminator Seed: Victory in Curitiba

The biotechnology lobby had a major setback in a series of United Nations meetings that took place in southern Brazil in March 2006. The first of these was the Conference on Agrarian Reform and Local Development in Porto Alegre, which was followed shortly by the conference of the Biodiversity Convention and the meeting of the Biosafety Protocol, both in the city of Curitiba.

These UN meetings addressed - directly or indirectly - the issues of control over seeds and land. Furthermore, Biosafety Protocol specifically addresses the liabilities and hazards of GM organisms and products.

The biggest bone of contention at Curitiba was the use of so-called "Terminator seeds." These seeds produce sterile plants, leaving farmers with no recourse but to buy seed every year. The Biodiversity Convention had a de facto prohibition on the use of this technology since 2000, but GM seed companies hoped to overturn the ban at the Curitiba meeting.

"Terminator technology is an assault on the traditional knowledge, innovation, and practices of indigenous and local communities," said Debra Harry of the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, and member of an expert group that examined the potential impacts of Terminator seed on indigenous peoples, smallholder farmers, and farmers' rights.

Harry added, "Field testing or commercial use of sterile seed technology is a fundamental violation of the human rights of indigenous peoples, a breach of the right of self-determination."

"Terminator poses a threat to our welfare and food sovereignty and constitutes a violation of our human right of self-determination," asserted Mariano Marcos Terena of Brazil on behalf of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity in January 2006.

A month before the UN meetings in Brazil, over 300 organizations declared their support for a global ban on Terminator technology, asserting that sterile seeds threaten biodiversity and will destroy the livelihoods and cultures of the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed.

The organizations, from every region of the world, included peasant movements and farm organizations, indigenous peoples' organizations, civil society and environmental groups, unions, faith communities, international development organizations, women's movements, consumer organizations, and youth networks.

The Curitiba and Porto Alegre meetings turned into a fiasco for the biotech lobby because both locations were swamped by protesters. "Without asking permission, the 'wretched of the earth,' through the voices of thousands of Brazilian peasants, landless rural workers, people displaced by dams, and those affected by timber and GM soybean plantations, took to the stage at the UN conferences held in Porto Alegre and Curitiba," said Silvia Ribeiro of the ETC Group, a Canada-based NGO.

"With the serenity and strength of those who have truth on their side, armed with seeds, maize, banners, and songs, these people astounded the diplomats of the world, reminding them that there is a real world out there beyond the negotiating tables, and enraged the directors and lobbyists of transnational corporations."

The days were marked by militant direct action and civil disobedience. Women of Via Campesina celebrated March 8, International Women's Day, by destroying a laboratory and nursery of cloned pines of the Aracruz corporation in protest against encroaching tree plantations. Tree plantations cause social and environmental damage similar to those of soy monocultures.

As meetings and protests took place in Curitiba, activists of Via Campesina and the MST, Brazil's landless people's movement, seized a farm in Santa Tereza do Oeste, in the state of Paraná, where Syngenta had illegally planted GM corn and soybeans in the buffer zone of the Iguaçu National Park.

Violence Erupts in Paraná

The saga of the MST's occupation of the Syngenta illegal GM farm in Santa Tereza do Oeste continued for many months after the March 2006 UN meetings. MST militants and anti-GMO activists celebrated when IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, fined Syngenta US$ 500,000 for violating the country's biosafety law.

The law forbids planting GM crops within 10 kilometers of a natural protected area, in this case the Foz do Iguaçu national park. Via Campesina proposed turning the field into a center for research and production of agroecological seeds. Paraná governor Roberto Requião supported the occupation and ordered the expropriation of Syngenta to establish there an agroecology research facility.

The company turned to the courts and got a temporary injunction against the expropriation plus an eviction order against the squatters. Then on October 21, 2007, armed gunmen allegedly hired by Syngenta violently evicted them. In the process they wounded many and murdered 34-year-old Valmir "Keno" Mota de Oliveira, father of three.

The MST, Via Campesina, and countless civil society organizations in Brazil have condemned these deeds and are demanding that Syngenta take responsibility for the killing, that it be held accountable for its environmental crimes, that it give up its experimental plot, and leave the country.

Meanwhile in Porto Alegre, protesters cut off access to the Agrarian Reform Conference for four hours and succeeded in getting their declaration, "Land, Territory, and Dignity," included as an officially endorsed conference document.

At one point in the Biodiversity Convention a procession of women of Via Campesina entered the plenary hall carrying signs in different languages demanding a ban on Terminator. An enraged Delta & Pine biotechnology company employee called on security guards to intervene but the chairman announced that the protesters' concerns would be taken into account. The vast majority of the plenary session participants rose and applauded the women.

In the end, civil society held the upper hand, as the moratorium on Terminator technology was maintained and upheld, much to the consternation of the biotech industry and its lobbyists.

"The rainbow of daily protests by Via Campesina at the entrance to the convention center, the simultaneous events in Brazil and other countries by hundreds of civil society organizations coordinated by the international Ban Terminator Campaign, the speeches by youth and indigenous leaders (including delegates sent by the Huichol people of Mexico and the Guambiano people of Colombia specifically to speak on the issue), the parallel events held by the Brazilian NGO and Social Movements' Forum, all together finally overturned [the pro-Terminator push], to the despair of the transnational corporations and the countries committed to ending the moratorium, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand," said Ribeiro.

"This is a momentous day for the 1.4 billion poor people worldwide who depend on farmer-saved seeds," said Chilean peasant leader Francisca Rodriguez of Via Campesina. "Terminator seeds are a weapon of mass destruction and an assault on our food sovereignty.

"Terminator directly threatens our life, our culture, and our identity as indigenous peoples," said Viviana Figueroa of the Ocumazo indigenous community in Argentina on behalf of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity. "Today's decision is a huge step forward for the Brazilian Campaign against GMOs," said Maria Rita Reis from the Brazilian Forum of Social Movements and NGOs, "This reaffirms Brazil's existing ban on Terminator. It sends a clear message to the national government and congress that the world supports a ban on Terminator."

The MST and the Via Campesina Seed Campaigns

Brazil's Landless People's Movement, the world's biggest land squatters' movement, is in the vanguard of GM-free ecological agriculture in the Americas. Its Bionatur seeds network develops and distributes diverse GM-free seeds and runs community seed banks that preserve agricultural biodiversity and keep germplasm out of the hands of agribusiness corporations. In the words of MST spokesman João Pedro Stédile, "If we lose our seed heritage, conquering land and capital will not serve us in any way."

Bionatur is "a fundamental instrument for the construction of a new agricultural model, based on agroecology, reconstruction of the landscape, promotion of peoples' food security and food sovereignty, and recovery of the productive capacity of soils," according to Informativo do MST, the movement's newspaper.

The network was born in 1997 as an outgrowth of COOPERAL, one of the MST's many farming co-operatives, which was seeking alternatives to the corporate-controlled and environmentally unsound industrial agriculture model favored by large "latifundista" landowners.

In its two decades of existence, the MST has provided over 22 million hectares of land to two million poor Brazilians. There they have established 5,000 settlements. The movement's land seizures cannot be properly termed civil disobedience or law-breaking, since Brazil's constitution obligates the government to distribute land to the poor. There are currently approximately 150,000 landless Brazilians affiliated with the MST that are living in temporary roadside barracks waiting to get land.

As a member of Via Campesina, an international small farmers' movement with millions of members worldwide, the MST is an active participant in its Seeds Campaign. The Campaign "has deep meaning for farmers and indigenous peoples, and it gives a prominent role to women," says Francisca Rodríguez of Chile, one of Via Campesina's founders.

"It strengthens the concept of Food Sovereignty and transforms it into a commitment to action. The campaign helps integrate the various aspects of agriculture, but also weaves in issues related to labor, value systems, and campesina culture. That returns some of our humanity to us, providing strength to face the hardship involved in all of this."

"Agriculture has been transforming us into machines that work harder than before, suppressing the creativity that used to characterize the farming process. Technology subjugates and annihilates people, and knowledge at the service of capital dehumanizes science. How do we stop this all-encompassing madness, which leads to extermination instead of progress? When I look at the seed campaign, being part of Via Campesina makes more sense: building this alternative way. I see the campaign as part of that great road that we are building around the world."


Aguirre, Roberto, "Red Bionatur de semillas. Una herramienta estratégica del MST," 2006, http://www.biodiversidadla.org/content/view/full/24193.

Altieri, Miguel & Walter Pengue, "GM Soybean: Latin America's New Colonizer," Seedling, January 2006, http://www.grain.org/seedling/?id=421.

Ban Terminator Campaign, "Terminator Rejection - A Victory for the People," March 24, 2006, http://www.banterminator.org/News-Updates/...-for-the-people.

Ban Terminator Campaign, "Monsanto May Commercialize Terminator: Biotech Giant Revises Pledge on Sterile Seed Technology as Global Alliance Calls for a Ban," February 21, 2006, http://www.banterminator.org/News-Updates/...lize-Terminator.

Ban Terminator Campaign, "Granada's Grim Sowers Plow up Moratorium on Terminator, Clear the Path for its Approval at UN," January 27, 2006, http://www.banterminator.org/News-Updates/News-Updates/

Bravo, Elizabeth, "El nuevo colonialismo de los agronegocios. El caso de la soja en el cono sur," http://www.ecoportal.net/content/view/full/73977.

Center for Food Safety, "Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers," 2005, http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/Monsant...rmersreport.cfm.

ETC Group, "Las diez compañías semilleras más grandes del mundo," October 2007, http://www.etcgroup.org/es/materiales/publ...html?pub_id=657.

ETC Group, "Oligopoly Inc. 2005," http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publi....html?pub_id=42.

González Rojas, Aldo, "Maíz, Contaminación Transgénica y Resistencia," http://www.ecoportal.net/content/view/full/60197.

GRAIN, "Soya Nexus in Latin America," Seedling, July 2007, http://www.grain.org/seedling/?id=493.

GRAIN, "Sustainable Monocultures? No, Thanks!" June 2006, http://www.grain.org/articles/?id=16.

GRAIN, "Poisoning the Well: The Genetic Pollution of Maize," Seedling, January 2003, http://grain.org/seedling/?id=219.

Grupo de Reflexión Rural, "Informe Sobre los Intercambios con la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Mar del Plata y el ALCA, el Rol de la Soja y de la Biotecnologia en la Dependencia en la Dependencia de la América Latina," http://www.grr.org.ar/documentos/Informe%2...20Venezuela.htm.

Grupo de Reflexión Rural et al., Joint declaration on the Foz do Iguaçu Sustainable Soy Roundtable meeting, February 2005.

Grupo de Reflexión Rural, "Se Aprueba en el Senado en el Senado la Ley de Promoción de la Biotecnología y se Legitima el Modelo Neogolonial Agroexportador de la Republiqueta Sojera," February 2006, http://www.ecoportal.net/content/view/full/56526.

Independent Science Panel, "The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World," 2003, http://www.indsp.org/ISPreportSummary.php.

Indymedia Argentina, "Insumos del Milagro Sojero," July 11, 2006, http://www.causapopular.com.ar/article1053.html.

MST, "La Campaña de Semillas del MST: Semillas, Patrimonio de los Pueblos al Servicio de la Humanidad," http://www.biodiversidadla.org/content/view/full/15875.

El Nuevo Herald, "Chávez Instó a Formar un Frente Sudamericano para el Cultivo de Soja," http://www.rallt.org/boletin/boletin%20180...3_Venezuela.pdf.

Núñez, Miguel Angel, "Prestigiosos Agroecólogos Visitan Venezuela Mientras Chávez se suma a un Tratado contra los Transgénicos," 12*V*06.

Philpott, Tom, "The Corn Supremacy," Grist Magazine, Oct. 25 2007, http://www.grist.org/comments/food/2007/10/25/index.html.

Red Bolivia Libre de Transgénicos, "Soya Convencional y Transgénica en Bolivia," http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=29587link.

Ribeiro, Silvia, "México: ¿Cuál experimento?" La Jornada, September 29 2007, http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2007/09/29/inde...rticle=019a1eco.

Ribeiro, Silvia, "Maíz Transgénico y Descampesinización," La Jornada, September 1, 2007, http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=56221.

Ribeiro, Silvia, "Seeds, Land, and Water: The Ides of March," Seedling, July 2006, http://www.grain.org/seedling/?id=427.

Ribeiro, Silvia, "Maíz: Contaminación Genética y Moral," La Jornada, December 13, 2001, http://www.etcgroup.org/es/materiales/publ...html?pub_id=512.

Rosset, Peter, "Food is Different," Zed Books, 2006.

Rulli, Jorge Eduardo, "Chávez, Grobo y el Marxismo Sojero," http://www.actividadonline.com.ar/index2.p...o_pdf=1&id=1082.

Union of Concerned Scientists, "Gone to Seed: Transgenic Contaminants in the Traditional Seed Supply," 2004, http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_environment...ne-to-seed.html.

USDA Economic Research Service, "Adoption of genetically engineered crops in the United States," http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/BiotechCrops/.

For More Information

Ban Terminator Campaign http://www.banterminator.org

Biodiversidad en América Latina http://www.biodiversidadla.org

ETC Group http://www.etcgroup.org

GRAIN http://www.grain.org

Grupo de Reflexión Rural http://www.grr.org.ar

Independent Science Panel http://www.indsp.org

MST http://www.mstbrazil.org

Red por una América Latina Libre de Transgénicos http://rallt.org

Soy Kills http://www.lasojamata.org

World Forum on Food Sovereignty http://www.nyeleni.org

Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero is a Puerto Rican independent environmental journalist and environmental analyst for the Americas Policy Program (www.americaspolicy.org). a fellow of the Oakland Institute and a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program and founder/director of the Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety (bioseguridad.blogspot.com). His bilingual web page (carmeloruiz.blogspot.com) is devoted to global environment and development issues.

Michael O’Callaghan

Little Alders
Knockrath, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
tel: + 353 404 43 885
fax: + 353 404 43 887
mobile: + 353 87 799 4761
email: mail@gmfreeireland.org
website: www.gmfreeireland.org

Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Jan 29 2008, 11:55 AM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

75 people have looked at stuff I've posted here... so here is a bit more! rather long, but the irish have really got their act together on this one............

Dublin, 28 January 2008 • GM-free Ireland Network • gmfreeireland.org


Covert campaign denounced in Irish Senate and UK House of Commons
European Parliament asked to launch investigation

DUBLIN — Thirty three Irish and British politicians — including the former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher MP, Senators David Norris, Dan Boyle, Pearse Doherty, Deirdre de Burca and Phil Prendergast, and Kathy Sinnott MEP — have denounced the activities of a Canadian Government agent, who has attempted to sabotage Ireland’s policy to keep the island of Ireland free of genetically modified crops [1].

Canada launched its covert strategy to undermine Ireland’s growing opposition to GM crops [2] after failing to force the EU to accept its unwanted GM food exports [3] by legal means via a WTO trade dispute in 2006 [4]. Canada has given the EU an 11 February deadline to change its policy on GM foods.

Dirty tricks

Shane Morris, an Irish biotech scientist employed by the Canadian Government agency Agri-Food and Agriculture Canada, began harassing the GM-free Ireland campaign from his office in Ottawa, whilst posing as an “Irish lad” and “private citizen” living in Dublin [5]. Morris set up a dedicated web blog [6] to disseminate disinformation, slander, innuendo and highly personal defamatory attacks [7] to discredit Irish politicians, scientists, and organisations which speak out against the dangers of GM food and farming. He rounded up biotech industry colleagues to complain about coverage of GM health risks on RTE [8] and in the Irish Medical News [9]. He intimidated Bord Bía [the Irish Food Board] to cancel funding for a conference on GM-free branding for food, farming and tourism [10], and harassed the Ireland Funds and the Irish Doctors Environmental Association [11] for co-sponsoring a scientific briefing on GMOs at the European Parliament Office in Dublin, where the Minister of State for Food and Horticulture, Trevor Sargent, first announced the Government’s policy goal to declare Ireland a GM-free zone [12]. Morris now intends to set up “a similar info service from a National University of Ireland perspective”. [13] Shane Morris is also advising Fine Gael TDs and MEPs, and was the author of a secret Fine Gael briefing on GMOs [14]. The briefing contains text from a letter by Morris previously published in the Kilkenny Voice. Morris’s authorship of the briefing is well-known in Fine Gael circles and was also confirmed by Fianna Fáil politicians after the briefing was sent to them by mistake in October [15].

“Flagrant fraud”

In 2003, when he was working for the Canadian Government, the prestigious British Food Journal published a scientific study co-authored by Morris and partly funded by the biotech industry, which claimed that consumers prefer GM food. The paper received the Journal’s “Award for Excellence for the Most Outstanding Paper of 2004” and has been widely cited by biotech advocates. But the paper has been denounced as “misleading” and/or a “flagrant fraud” by Cambridge University research ethics expert Dr. Richard Jennings, Prof. Joe Cummins (Emeritus Professor of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario, Canada), by other scientists at York and Guelph Universities in Canada, the University of New South Wales in Australia, and in various publications including New Scientist, Food Consumer, The Ecologist and Private Eye magazines. Last week 40 scientists wrote to the British Food Journal demanding it withdraw the paper and the award [16].


GM-free Ireland [17] and the UK-based GM Watch [18] outed Morris as a Canadian Government agent last July and reported his involvement in what they regarded as a scientific fraud. Morris then engaged McCann Fitzgerald and other law firms to intimidate both organisations, using threats of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation to censor and/or shut down their web sites [19]. The attempt failed in Ireland but succeeded in the UK, when the GM Watch site was shut for nearly a week last August. In September, the policy director of the Soil Association [20], Peter Melchett, wrote to the UK High Commissioner for Canada, requesting the Canadian Government to stop its attempts to “undermine the wishes of the democratically elected Irish Government”. [21]

Political reaction from Ireland and the UK

The former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher MP, has tabled an Early Day Motion [22] in the House of Commons which states: “This House (...) deplores the continuing efforts by an employee of the Canadian Government, Shane Morris, to close down websites in the UK and Republic of Ireland which have, along with Dr Richard Jennings of Cambridge University, said that research which claimed that consumers prefer GM sweetcorn published by this employee and others and given an Award for Excellence is a flagrant fraud.” [23] The motion has since been co-signed by twenty six MPs.

Senators David Norris, Dan Boyle, Deirdre de Burca, Pearse Doherty, and Phil Prendergast are calling for the Irish Government to intervene. In a Senate speech on 6 December, Senator David Norris condemned the “extraordinary interference by an agent of the Canadian Government in the political discourse of this country” who is “trying to close down Irish networks that tell the truth about GM food”, and called for the Senate to request the Government to raise the matter with its Canadian counterpart [24].

European Parliament to launch investigation

Kathy Sinnott MEP said “this covert interference by the Government of Canada is an affront to Irish and UK sovereignty and to the Precautionary Principle which is a cornerstone of EU policy on GM food and farming. I am calling on the European Parliament to investigate this scandal, as we have done regarding the CIA’s violation of European airspace for illegal torture flights. We need a full investigation into the extent of covert influence by foreign governments and corporations on the GM policies and decisions of the Commission, EU member states, and their regulatory bodies.”

Michael O’Callaghan of GM-free Ireland said “The European Parliament needs to investigate the extent of covert influence by foreign governments and corporations on the GM policies and decisions of the Commission, member states, and their regulatory bodies. The investigation should also examine the amount of industry lobby funding in the area of Public Relations and public perception management which, in some member states, distorts media coverage of GM policy issues and stifles public debate on the biotech industry threat to European food sovereignty and food security.”



Michael O’Callaghan, Co-ordinator
GM-free Ireland Network
Tel + 353 (0)404 43885
mobile: + 353 (0)87 799 4761
email: mail@gmfreeireland.org
web: http://www.gmfreeireland.org


1. Ireland’s agreed Programme for Government is “to seek to negotiate to declare the whole island of Ireland as a GMO-free zone” in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Assembly. The policy aims to prohibit the release of GM crops, and to implement a voluntary phase out of GM animal feed (which is widely available according to the recent conference co-hosted by the EU Committee of the Regions and the European GMO-Free Regions Network http://www.gmofree-euregions.net).

2. Canada’s covert campaign surfaced in February 2006, a week after RTE broadcast “The Future of Food” (http://www.thefutureoffood.com), a documentary film which featured an interview with the alternative Nobel Prize-winning Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, who faced a patent infringement lawsuit and lost ownership of his seeds and crops after they became contaminated by Monsanto’s patented GM oilseed rape (see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference/tr...pschmeiser.php).

Canada and the biotech industry must have been concerned about the film’s impact on Irish public opinion prior to a then forthcoming decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve or deny BASF’S highly controversial application to conduct an experimental release of 450,000 GMO potatoes near the Hill of Tara. After the EPA gave conditional consent subject to BASF’s agreeing to pay for an environmental impact study, BASF decided not to go ahead with the experiment in 2006 and 2007. For details see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/potato

3. The USA and Canada — along with Monsanto and the other five giant agri-biotech corporations which control 50% of the world’s agricultural seeds — are desperate to force the EU market open to their GM food and animal feed exports. Although imported GM animal feed is widely sold to EU farmers, the EU market for GM food exports (from Canada and other countries) is virtually zero. This has been a disaster for contaminated Canadian farmers. For more info, see the interview with Darrin Qualman, Director of Research, National Farmers Union of Canada: “Canadian agriculture ‘probably the least profitable in the world’”, Seedling magazine, October 2007: http://grain.org/seedling/?id=509. Qualman says that “GM seeds do not increase profitability. They do not increase yield. They do not decrease costs”.

4. In August 2003, the US, Canada and Argentina (the world's three largest producers of GM crops) attempted to force GM products into European markets by filing a WTO trade dispute against the EU for suspending approvals of biotech products, and for national bans on EC-approved GM crops in six EU member states.

In February 2006, after months of delays, the WTO Trade Dispute Panel finally released its secret 1,050-page Interim ruling "Measures affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (EC-Biotech)" that reportedly backed the US, Canada and Argentina in their efforts to force Europe to accept GMOs. According to first press reports, the WTO decided that EU national bans contravened trade rules. In reality, the WTO rejected most of the arguments, conceding that national bans are justifiable subject to risk assessment. Since then, EU Environment and Agriculture Ministers (including the Irish ones) voted three times to support the member states' legal right to maintain these bans.

Greenpeace and other NGOs said that just as the WTO case did not challenge EU laws designed to protect the environment, it could not be used to undermine existing international agreements on biosafety. For details see http://www.genewatch.org/sub-405264

The WTO Interim report was released on 7 February 2006, the same day that Shane Morris launched his web blog at http://gmoireland.blogspot.com

The WTO ruled that the EU would face punitive trade sanctions unless it ended restrictions on GM imports from the USA, Canada and Argentina by 15 January 2008, the same day that France extended its recent ban on GM maize. Canada then extended the deadline to 11 February 2008, Argentina extended it to 11 July. The USA did not indicate if will also accept an extended deadline, or push for immediate sanctions.

5. Shane Morris is currently employed as Senior Consumer Analyst at the Consumer Analysis Section of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (http://www.gmfreeireland.org/morris/ShaneMorris.pdf).

Although the Canadian Government had denied Morris’ official role in Ireland, Prof Joe Cummins (Emeritus Professor of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario, Canada) said: "Shane is a bureaucrat in Agriculture Canada and his views are supported by that Ministry. It is very clear that the Canadian government hired Shane... as a way of promoting GM crops. Shane's attacks may seem like sheer lunacy to most of us but the Canadian bureaucrats think he is brilliant in damaging the detractors of GM crops. I expect they will hire other nationals to attack those opposed to GM crops in their home countries."

Until he was outed as a Canadian Government agent, Morris gave his address at 6 Coolkill, Sandyford, Dublin 18, describing himself as “private citizen and scientist”. Since then he has added his Canadian address (Woodford Way, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) to his numerous letters to the editor of various newspapers, including the Irish Farmers Journal which has published them almost every week in recent months.

According to his CV, Shane Morris spent five years (1992-1997) studying at the National University of Ireland / Maynooth for a Batchelor of Science degree in molecular genetics and statistics. He then studied “ the public perceptions and attitudes to modern biotechnology and resulting public policy and legislation” at the University of Limerick from 1997 to 2000, where he was the Manager of the now defunct “Irish Biotechnology Information Centre”. He then took a brief course in “Bioethics and Public Perceptions of Biotechnology” at Oxford University. From 2002 to 2003 he was an invited reviewer for the scientific journals Trends in Biotechnology and the Journal of the Association of Analytical Communities International. His papers on GM food, GM livestock and related issues have been widely published. According to his CV, Morris is also a private consultant to “EU MEPs and members of Parliament.”

The Canadian Government and the biotech industry are said to have adopted a sophisticated high tech PR propaganda technique called Public Perception Management (PPM), which uses computerised semantic analysis of daily media coverage of GM issues to feed pro-GMO stories to public relations companies, spin doctors, policy makers, and journalists. The current PPM objective aims to convince policy makers, farmers and consumers that nothing can be done to stop the GMO invasion. This strategy has proven extremely effective in shaping coverage of GMO issues in the Irish Times, the Irish Farmers Journal and other newspapers, whose superficial coverage of the controversy usually frames the debate as scientists versus Luddites.

6. Shane Morris’s blog may be found at http://gmoireland.blogspot.com

7. For details of Morris’s attempts to sabotage the GM-free Ireland campaign see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/morris

For his attacks on individuals and organisations which promote awareness of the dangers of GM food and farming, see various pages of Morris’s blog at http://gmoireland.blogspot.com. A few examples include:

A series of defamatory attacks on the coordinator of the GM-free Ireland network, Michael O’Callaghan, accusing him of being a “liar” and of misleading potential sponsors in order to attract funding for the GM-free Ireland campaign (http://gmoireland.blogspot.com).

Defamatory attack on the journalist Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette: the documented health risks of GM food (letter to the Editor, Irish Times, 29 June).

Rounding up a group of biotech industry colleagues to discredit a fellow Canadian scientist, Prof Joe Cummins of the University of Ontario who was advising the Irish Environmental Protection Agency to refuse approval for BASF’s GMO potato experiment mentioned in note 4 above.

Using innuendo to discredit Darina Allen of Slow Food Ireland for her opposition to GM food (blog entry for 14 March 2006).

Defamatory attack on the journalist Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette: the documented health risks of GM food” (letter to the Editor, Irish Times, 29 June).

Defamatory attack on the new Fianna Fáil / Green Party coalition government for its new policy goal to declare the island of Ireland as a GMO-free crop zone. “ Irish Greens serve up fudge on GM food” http://gmoireland.blogspot.com/2007_06_14_archive.html

8. In January 2007, Morris and the Chairman of Monsanto Ireland complained to the Irish Broadcasting Commission for RTE’s television broadcast of the documentary film “The Future of Food” (http://www.thefutureoffood.com) which outlines the dangers of GM food and farming, with allegations that Percy Schmeiser was a liar [10].

9. Attack on Irish Medical News article “Claim that GM foods present health risk ‘irrefutable’”, 30 June 2007, by Julie-Anne Barnes: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/2007/jun.php

10. In June 2006, Morris intimidated a senior executive at Bord Bía (the Irish Government Food Board) into withdrawing agreed sponsorship for the Green Ireland conference on branding for food, farming and eco-tourism where leading international experts on GMOs including Vandana Shiva, Percy Schmeiser, and Benedikt Haerlin, warned Ireland of the economic benefits of keeping Ireland free of GM crops. For conference proceedings see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference.

After Bord Bía subsequently denied having made the offer to sponsor the event, Morris published defamatory allegations that GM-free Ireland had lured funding from other sponsors under false pretences, by lying about the Bord Bía sponsorship which he himself caused to be cancelled: see details at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference/trans/bordbia.php.

11. In June 2007, Morris got 50 biotech industry colleagues to write letters to the Ireland Funds (http://www.irlfunds.org) objecting to its co-sponsorship of the Briefing on Food Safety and GMOs co-hosted by GM-free Ireland and the European Parliament Independence/Democracy Group at the European Parliament Office in Dublin (see note 12 below). The Ireland Funds’ Vice President and Director Ireland, Caitriona Fottrell, described Morris’ behaviour as “harassment”.

12. The Briefing on Food Safety and GMOs was held at the European Parliament Office in Dublin on 15 June 2007 (two days after the new coalition government announced its policy goal to declare the whole island of Ireland as a GMO-free zone). The event was co-hosted by the GM-free Ireland Network and the European Parliament Independence/Democracy Group. It was co-sponsored by the European Parliament Independence/Democracy Group (http://www.europarl.eu.int/inddem) Euro-Toques Ireland (http:// www.eurotoquesirl.org), Glenisk Organic Ireland (http:// www.glenisk.com), GM-free Ireland Network (http:// www.gmfreeireland.org, Irish Doctors Environmental Association (http:// www.ideaireland.org), Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (http:// www.irishorganic.ie), Slow Food Ireland (http:// www.slowfoodireland.com), and The Ireland Funds (http://www.irlfunds.org.

Speakers included:

Trevor Sargent TD in his capacity as Acting Leader of the Green Party. He is now Minister of State for Food and Horticulture.

Kathy Sinnott MEP, is the EU Parliament Representative to the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (http://ec.europa.eu/food) which is responsible for ensuring that Community legislation on food safety, animal health, plant health and animal welfare is properly implemented and enforced in the EU, and by third countries exporting to the EU. For details see: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/publ...age=EN&id=28119

Jeffrey Smith, who launched his new book Genetic Roulette: the documented health risks of GM foods (Yes! Books. Fairfield, Iowa, USA, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9729665-2-8. Hardcover, 336 pages, € 23. Available at the Cultivate Centre, 15-19 Essex St. West, Temple Bar, Dublin 8, tel (01) 674 5773 or by mailorder from http://www.GeneticRoulette.com).

Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher PhD of EcoNexus (http://www.econexus.info) is part of the legal and scientific team of the ETC Group (http://www.etcgroup.org) which convinced the European Patent Office to revoke Monsanto's species-wide patent on genetically modified soybeans. Dr. Steinbrecher’s briefing covered (a) the genome scrambling found in many GM crops (http://www.gmfreeireland.org/health/BSR-2-BGERvol23.pdf), (B) a scientific study which found that a variety of Monsanto GM maize approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and widely fed to Irish cattle and sheep causes liver and kidney damage in laboratory animals (http://www.gmfreeireland.org/health/SeraliniPaper2007.pdf), and © the EU-wide call for EFSA to stop using secret risk assessments provided to it by the biotech industry as the basis for approving the release of GM animal feed, food and crops, and for EFSA to make the related data available for public scrutiny and scientific peer review.

Michael O’Callaghan, co-ordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network.

13. Morris’s mentions his intention to set up a pro-GMO “information service” at the National University of Ireland on his blog at:

14. “Briefing Document for Fine Gael: GMOs and Ireland: 10 years of poor FF led policy”:

The briefing contains, inter alia, verbatim text from an earlier letter which Morris sent to the Editor of the Kilkenny Voice newspaper, dated 28 September 2007 (published 27 September). Morris’s authorship of the briefing is well-known in Fine Gael circles and was also confirmed by Fianna Fáil politicians after the briefing was sent to them by mistake in October (see note 15 below).

Fine Gael’s credibility on GM food and farming was already in tatters before this embarrassing revelation that they are being advised by a covert agent of the Canadian Government.

Speaking at a Government hearing convened by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Local Government on 15 June 2005, Fine Gael Senator James Bannon said:

"I am totally opposed to the introduction of GM foods because of the serious health repercussions. Experts throughout Europe observe that supermarkets and food manufacturers are concerned at the introduction of GM foods because the public does not want them and there is no market for such products. Moreover, the warnings from experts and doctors dictate that such products should not be forced into our food chains. I hope the Government will oppose the introduction of GM foods at EU level": http://www.gmfreeireland.org/downloads/GMO-15June2005.pdf

But in the lead up to the 2007 General Election, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny told Michael O’Callaghan of GM-free Ireland that this country can “do nothing” to stop the invasion of GM animal feed, food and crops – apparently unaware that many other EU member states and Regions have already banned the crops and are now phasing out GM animal feed as well.

This contradicts the position taken in June 2006 by Brody Sweeney (the CEO of O’Briens Sandwich bars who ran unsuccessfully as a Fine Gael candidate in the General Election), when he presented his concept for an explicitly GM-free “Green Ireland” food branding scheme at the Green Ireland conference in June 2006 (see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference/trans/bsweeney.php).

But on 29 November 2006, Sweeney and Fine Gael’s then agriculture spokesperson, Denis Naughten, officially launched Fine Gael’s “Green Ireland” policy with a press release “FG's Green Ireland label will promote top quality Irish produce the world over – Naughten” (http://www.finegael.ie/news/index.cfm/type/details/nkey/29899). The arguments for such a label included all those made by GM-free Ireland at our Green Ireland conference, but with all references to GM ingredients carefully removed.

On 20 October 2007, Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness, along with MEPs James Nicholson (Ulster Unionist Party) and Struan Stevenson (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party), engaged in a failed attempt to introduce numerous amendments to an EU Parliament Resolution on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. The amendments aimed, inter alia, to raise contamination thresholds for imported GM animal feed, and to fast track the EU approval of illegal GM imports from the USA and other countries.

In December 2006, Mairead McGuinness attempted to introduce numerous amendments into a Motion for a European Parliament Resolution on Biotechnology: Prospects and Challenges for Agriculture in Europe (2006/2059 (INI)). Mairead’s amendments included weakening EU regulations on GM food and feed, and promoting the release of GM pharma crops, which would contaminate food crops with pharmaceutical products, agrofuels, and industrial chemicals! Luckily, MEPs threw out the Motion and the Resolution after widespread protest by citizens. For details see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/politics

15. Miriam Lord’s Week, Irish Times, 13 October 2007:


It's a slow day at the office. Then an e-mail lands in the Fianna Fáil adviser's in-box. His eyes light up when he sees the title: "Briefing Document for Fine Gael."

He opens the message to find Fine Gael's new 13-page strategy on the GMO issue has landed in his lap. They sent it to the enemy by mistake.

It begins "GMOs and Ireland: 10 years of poor FF-led policy." The opening paragraph begins thus: "Since 1997, Fianna Fáil governments have repeatedly flip-flopped the issue of GMOs. This recently came to a head on September 28th when Green Party Minister Trevor Sargent dramatically changed stated policy regarding a 'GM-free Ireland' by stating "GM free zone is not about banning imported GM feed" (possible draft Dáil questions, below on pg. 5)". And on it goes, with page after page of background rebuttal material, full of quotes from Fianna Fáil and Green politicians.

Suggested Dáil questions include ones for Trevor Sargent.

"Does Minister Sargent agree that this nation's food supply is not an issue for party political sound bites but rather political decisions made on the basis of scientifically sound independent advice?"

Lots of examples of previous statements are highlighted before a possible question for Minister Dempsey is offered: "Did Noel Dempsey, in his programme for government discussions with the Greens, forget the conclusions of his own tax payer-supported public consultations?" All that hard work for nothing. They're certainly green in Fine Gael now, but for all the wrong reasons. But Trevor Sargent had an extra pep in his step last week, and they're still laughing in Fianna Fáil.

Forwarned is forearmed.

16. Agronomic and consumer considerations for Bt and conventional sweet-corn, Powell D.A.; Blaine K.; Morris S.; Wilson J., British Food Journal, Volume: 105, Issue: 10, Page: 700-713 (Nov 2003): http://www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/00070700310506254

When this paper was published in 2003, Shane Morris was employed as National Biotechnology Operations Coordinator at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (according to his CV).
The study was funded by the biotech-industry front group, Council for Biotechnology Information http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=287 and the industry's trade association, the Crop Protection Institute of Canada (now Croplife Canada). The paper was given the British Food Journal’s “Award for Excellence for the Most Outstanding Paper of 2004” and has been cited often by biotech advocates.

The study claimed that food consumers preferred GM maize over conventional maize.

But eyewitness accounts and photographic evidence showed that the paper failed to mention a large sign which biased the consumers choice. The paper has been internationally denounced as “misleading” and/or “fraudulent” by numerous scientists including Dr. Richard Jennings (an expert in research ethics at the Univesity of Cambridge) Prof. Joe Cummins (Emeritus Professor of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario, Canada), by scientists at York University in Canada, the University of Guelph in Canada, and the University of New South Wales in Australia, and in various publications including New Scientist magazine, Food Consumer, Private Eye, and The Ecologist. The British Food Journal has been asked to retract the paper, and annul the award it gave it as Best Scientific Paper of the Year.

Senator Norris condemned Shane Morris’s scientific paper as “a fraud” and denounced its “complete abnegation of all scientific standards”.

The Canadian Government recently attempted to distance itself from the scandal by pointing out that Morris co-authored the paper before he started work with his current employer, Agri-Food Canada. But according to Morris’s CV, at the time he wrote the paper he must have been employed as National Biotechnology Operations Coordinator for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (which is part of the Government).

Published critiques of the study include (in reverse chronological order):

Open letter to the British Food Journal, co-signed by 40 scientists, 24 January 2008:


Corn on the cobblers. Private Eye Magazine, No. 1201, 11-24 January 2008


Of wormy corn and websites: who pulled the plug on the GM Watch website? The Ecologist magazine, December 2007 / January 2008.


Company Research on Genetically Modified Foods is Rigged, FoodConsumer.org, 21 November 2007. By the Institute for Responsible Technology (USA):


Controversy over claims in favour of GM corn. New Scientist magazine, Vol 190, No. 2553, 27 May 2006, p.7


Corn Fakes, Private Eye, No. 1194, 28 September-11 October 2007:


Tim Lambert, Would you eat wormy corn?, 7 September 2007: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/09/wo..._sweet_corn.php

Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Mar 4 2008, 09:02 AM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

I have another long email from the Irish anti GM people - I'll send it if anyone wants...... it finishes as below. It is quite horrific the lengths to which the GM industry is going to to ensure GN is brought into europe - the lies, bulllying, bribery..... all for profit at the possible/probable costs of future generations health.


Irish and other European policies to ban GM crops and phase out GM animal feed will collide head-on with the WTO’s trade dispute filed against us by the USA, Canada and Argentina in the months ahead.

Compared to other EU countries, we Irish remain very ignorant and easily manipulated by the biotech propaganda spin doctors, whose influence can be ascertained by the number of Irish people who now believe the biotech industry lie that GM crops have greater yields and are needed to feed the world.

Our GM-free aspirations are in serious danger of being abandoned by the majority of politicians and civil servants who either don’t understand the subject, fail to adopt the proactive strategic approaches that are needed to fend off the GM invasion, or are just too timid to defend our national interests. If this happens, we will only have ourselves to blame, since we still live in a democracy.

The time has come for concerned politicians, journalists, food writers, medical professionals, restaurateurs, chefs, retailers and consumers to speak out publicly to defend our food and farming future. Let’s also defend our democratic Europe from the unelected EC bureaucrats who want to rob us of our sovereignty – please vote against the Lisbon Treaty!

Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Mar 22 2008, 02:58 PM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

The Genetically Modified Food Gamble

The Huffington Post (USA), 18 March 2008. By Robert Weissman.

There have been few experiments as reckless, overhyped and with as little potential upside as the rapid rollout of genetically modified crops.

Last month, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a pro-biotech nonprofit, released a report highlighting the proliferation of genetically modified crops. According to ISAAA, biotech crop area grew 12 percent, or 12.3 million hectares, to reach 114.3 million hectares in 2007, the second highest area increase in the past five years.

For the biotech backers, this is cause to celebrate. They claim that biotech helps farmers. They say it promises to reduce hunger and poverty in developing countries. "If we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of cutting hunger and poverty in half by 2015," says Clive James, ISAAA founder and the author the just-released report, "biotech crops must play an even bigger role in the next decade."

In fact, existing genetically modified crops are hurting small farmers and failing to deliver increased food supply -- and posing enormous, largely unknown risks to people and the planet.

For all of the industry hype around biotech products, virtually all planted genetically modified seed is for only four products -- soy, corn, cotton and canola -- with just two engineered traits. Most of the crops are engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide sold by Monsanto under the brand-name Round-up (these biotech seeds are known as RoundUp-Ready). Others are engineered to include a naturally occurring pesticide, Bt.

Most of the genetically modified crops in developing countries are soy, says Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety and co-author of "Who Benefits from GM Crops," a report issued at the same time as ISAAA's release. These crops are exported to rich countries, primarily as animal feed. They do absolutely nothing to supply food to the hungry.

As used in developing countries, biotech crops are shifting power away from small, poor farmers desperately trying to eke out livelihoods and maintain their land tenure.

Glyphosate-resistance is supposed to enable earlier and less frequent spraying, but, concludes "Who Benefits from GM Crops," these biotech seeds "allow farmers to spray a particular herbicide more frequently and indiscriminately without fear of damaging the crop." This requires expenditures beyond the means of small farmers -- but reduces labor costs, a major benefit for industrial farms.

ISAAA contends that Bt planting in India and China has substantially reduced insecticide spraying, which it advances as the primary benefit of biotech crops.

Bt crops may offer initial reductions in required spraying, says Freese, but Bt is only effective against some pests, meaning farmers may have to use pesticides to prevent other insects from eating their crops. Focusing on a district in Punjab, "Who Benefits from GM Crops" shows how secondary pest problems have offset whatever gains Bt crops might offer.

Freese also notes that evidence is starting to come in to support longstanding fears that genetically engineering the Bt trait into crops would give rise to Bt-resistant pests.

The biotech seeds are themselves expensive, and must be purchased anew every year. Industry leader Monsanto is infamous for suing farmers for the age-old practice of saving seeds, and holds that it is illegal for farmers even to save genetically engineered seeds that have blown onto their fields from neighboring farms. "That has nothing to do with feeding the hungry," or helping the poorest of the poor, says Hope Shand, research director for the ETC Group, an ardent biotech opponent. It is, to say the least, not exactly a farmer-friendly approach.

Although the industry and its allies tout the benefits that biotech may yield someday for the poor, "we have yet to see genetically modified food that is cheaper, more nutritious or tastes better," says Shand. "Biotech seeds have not been shown to be scientifically or socially useful," although they have been useful for the profit-driven interests of Monsanto, she says.

Freese notes that the industry has been promising gains for the poor for a decade and a half -- but hasn't delivered. Products in the pipeline won't change that, he says, with the industry focused on introducing new herbicide resistant seeds.

The evidence on yields for the biotech crops is ambiguous, but there is good reason to believe yields have actually dropped. ISAAA's Clive James says that Bt crops in India and China have improved yields somewhat. "Who Benefits from GM Crops" carefully reviews this claim, and offers a convincing rebuttal. The report emphasizes the multiple factors that affect yield, and notes that Bt and Roundup-Ready seeds alike are not engineered to improve yield per se, just to protect against certain predators or for resistance to herbicide spraying.

Beyond the social disaster of contributing to land concentration and displacement of small farmers, a range of serious ecological and sustainability problems with biotech crops is already emerging -- even though the biotech crop experiment remains quite new.

Strong evidence of pesticide resistance is rapidly accumulating, details "Who Benefits from GM Crops," meaning that farmers will have to spray more and more chemicals to less and less effect. Pesticide use is rising rapidly in biotech-heavy countries. In the heaviest user of biotech seeds -- the United States, which has half of all biotech seed planting -- glyphosate-resistant weeds are proliferating. Glyphosate use in the United States rose by 15 times from 1994 to 2005, according to "Who Benefits from GM Crops," and use of other and more toxic herbicides is rapidly rising. The U.S. experience likely foreshadows what is to come for other countries more recently adopting biotech crops.

Seed diversity is dropping, as Monsanto and its allies aim to eliminate seed saving, and development of new crop varieties is slowing. Contamination from neighboring fields using genetically modified seeds can destroy farmers' ability to maintain biotech-free crops. Reliance on a narrow range of seed varieties makes the food system very vulnerable, especially because of the visible problems with the biotech seeds now in such widespread use.

For all the uncertainties about the long-term effects of biotech crops and food, one might imagine that there were huge, identifiable short-term benefits. But one would be wrong.

Instead, a narrowly based industry has managed to impose a risky technology with short-term negatives and potentially dramatic downsides.

But while it is true, as ISAAA happily reports, that biotech planting is rapidly growing, it remains heavily concentrated in just a few countries: the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India and China.

Europe and most of the developing world continue to resist Monsanto's seed imperialism. The industry and its allies decry this stand as a senseless response to fear-mongering. It actually reflects a rational assessment of demonstrated costs and benefits -- and an appreciation for real but incalculable risks of toying with the very nature of nature.
Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Jun 20 2008, 07:42 PM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

Lots more on GM..... how sad it all is..... ideas foisted up on us by BIG business aren't usually the best thing for the poor - try asking widows of India's Green Revolution farmers who committed suicide.......

GM crops needed in Britain, says minister

Government seeks to relax restrictions to tackle the worsening global food crisis
The Independent (UK), 19 June 2008. By Andrew Grice.

Government must not fall for GM hype

Friends of the Earth Press Release, Thursday 19 June 2008

Michael McCarthy: Hello green concrete, goodbye wildlife

The Independent (UK) Commentators, 19 June 2008.

UK must think again on growing GM crops, says cabinet minister

The Herald (UK), 19 June 2008. By Michael Settle.

Pro-GM lobbyist misleads parliamentary committee

GM Watch, 19 June 2008.

New study to force ministers to review climate change plan

Exclusive Official review admits biofuel role in food crisis
The Guardian (UK), 19 June 2008. By Julian Borger.

Genetic engineering ­ a crop of hyperbole

The San Diego Union-Tribune (USA), 18 June 2008. By Doug Gurian-Sherman.


Government seeks to relax restrictions to tackle the worsening global food crisis

The Independent (UK), 19 June 2008. By Andrew Grice.

Ministers are preparing to open the way for genetically modified crops to be grown in Britain on the grounds they could help combat the global food crisis.

Ministers have told The Independent that rocketing food prices and food shortages in the world's poorest countries mean the time is right to relax Britain's policy on use of GM crops.

Last night, the Environment minister Phil Woolas held preliminary talks with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, an umbrella group formed in 2000 to promote the role of biotechnology in agriculture. It is run by representatives from the companies Monsanto, Bayer CropSciences, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, Pioneer (DuPont), and Syngenta.

He said: "There is a growing question of whether GM crops can help the developing world out of the current food price crisis. It is a question that we as a nation need to ask ourselves. The debate is already under way. Many people concerned about poverty in the developing world and the environment are wrestling with this issue."

He stressed that the "very robust" procedures for ensuring the safety of experiments would continue, with scientists looking at each application on its merits.

The move will anger environmental groups, who accuse the GM industry of trying to exploit the global crisis to win approval for their products.

In 2004, after a heated public debate, the Government decided there was no scientific case for a blanket ban on GM crops. But amid fears over so-called "Frankenstein foods", it decided that commercial production would be allowed on a case-by-case basis, only if evidence showed it would not pose a risk to human health or the environment. There are no GM crops being grown in Britain and only one trial is taking place ­ of GM potatoes in Cambridgeshire.

Ministers are treading carefully, aware that strong government support for GM crops would provoke a backlash by opponents. Those ministers who favour a renewed push believe there are no scientific arguments against the idea. They argue that Britain has a duty to look at the issue on the grounds that boosting production is the best way to reduce global food prices.

They want the new debate to focus on the science to avoid a re-run of the one in 2004, when the GM industry was accused of trying to bounce the Government into giving the go-ahead for purely commercial reasons.

Gordon Brown is believed to be sympathetic to taking a fresh look at the issue in the light of mounting problems including "food riots" around the world. There are no plans yet for a formal cabinet decision but government sources acknowledge the issue is rising up the agenda. "Enough time has elapsed since the 2004 decision," one said. At a summit of EU leaders in Brussels today, the Prime Minister will propose a six-point plan to drive down food prices which includes " improving the EU regulatory regime for GM organisms". This is aimed at cutting the cost of GM products used in animal feed.

Green groups reacted angrily to the prospect of a government rethink. Clare Oxborrow, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "Industry claims that GM crops are necessary to feed the world are a cynical attempt to use the food crisis for financial gain ­ and governments should look at the industry's record before believing the hype.

"After a decade of commercialisation most GM crops are used for animal feed, not food; they do not yield more than conventional crops; and GM drought and salt-tolerant crops remain a PR promise rather than reality. We now need a radical shift towards sustainable farming systems that genuinely benefit local farmers communities and the environment worldwide."

Jan van Aken, agricultural campaigner for Greenpeace International, said: "I am appalled that the GM industry is abusing the misery of millions of hungry people around the world, using it as propaganda to sell a product by claiming it would reduce hunger. By all means the Government can have a look at it, but it should look at the facts and then drop it. There is no science behind the industry's claim."

The EU is also reviewing its stance on GM foods after coming under pressure from the US, which dominates the GM industry, to relax an unofficial moratorium on new licences ruled illegal by the World Trade Organisation. France, Germany and Austria are cautious but the European Commission, backed by Britain and other EU nations, believes that lifting the ban could help to solve the global food crisis. George Bush has said GM crops could help to ease the problems because of their high yields and resistance to drought.

An uneasy history

1983: US Environment Protection Agency approves the release of first genetically modified crop after scientists create GM tobacco.

1985: GM crop trials take place in the UK and around the world.

1992: US professor Paul Lewis coins the expression "Frankenfood".

1993: US Food and Drug Administration allows the marketing of GM seed.

1994: The Flavr Savr tomato becomes the first GM food to be approved in the US.

1996: GM tomato paste arrives in UK, amid protests.

1999: Downing Street says Tony Blair has eaten GM food and views it as safe.

2004: Planting of GM maize is approved in the UK.

2006: The German biotech firm BASF is given go-ahead for five-year trial of blight-resistant GM potatoes in Britain.

2007: Government backs industry calls to support GM.

2008: Ministers discuss relaxing approach to GM crops to tackle global food crisis.

Comment from GM Watch:

It says everything that the environment minister has already been holding "preliminary talks" with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council - the biotech industry's PR front group run by Lexington Communications, a PR agency intimately connecting to New Labour at the highest levels. http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=139

If you're in the UK, please write to your MP and explain why New Labour's heirs to Blair need to finally stop cosying up to the industry and promoting its hype.

You can find all your MP's contact details at http://www.upmystreet.com/commons/l/



Friends of the Earth Press Release, Thursday 19 June 2008

Today's revelation that the Government is looking for ways to grow GM crops in Britain in the wake of rising food prices around the world [1] has been condemned by Friends of the Earth. The environment group has accused Ministers of falling for the GM industry's hype and ignoring its damaging track record. The move comes after the Environment Minister reportedly met with the GM industry’s lobby group last night.

In the UK, a national GM debate concluded that 85% of the public didn't want GM crops grown in this country and 95% rejected Government proposals on weak rules for growing GM crops in England [2]. Furthermore, the Government-sponsored farm scale trials of GM crops found that growing two out of three GM crops were more damaging to farmland wildlife than growing conventional equivalents.

There is no evidence that GM crops will help tackle the food crisis. There are many complex causes including commodity speculation, the global rush for biofuels and the underlying unfair trade system [3]. GM crops do not increase average yields and there are no GM drought-tolerant or salt-tolerant crops on the market. Most GM crops grown around the world are grown in intensive monocultures, have resulted in a massive increase in pesticide use, and are used for animal feed, not food.

Last week the Government signed up to the UN International Agriculture Assessment [4] which saw no clear role for GM crops to tackle global food needs. The report was so lukewarm over GM crops that the biotech industry pulled out of the process last year [5], and the US has refused to sign up to the final document.

Friends of the Earth's GM Campaigner, Clare Oxborrow said:

"The Government has been seriously misled if it thinks that GM crops are going to help tackle the food crisis - GM crops do not increase yields or tackle hunger and poverty.

"In the UK, the public have rejected GM food and extensive trials have showed that GM crops are more damaging for farmland wildlife than their conventional equivalents.

"Instead of helping the GM industry to use the food crisis for financial gain, the Government should be encouraging a radical shift towards sustainable farming systems that genuinely benefit local farmers, communities and the environment worldwide.”



[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/polit...in-britain-says
-minister-849991.html At today’s EU leader’s summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister will also propose a ‘six-point plan’ to tackle food prices which includes "improving the EU regulatory regime for GM organisms". This is expected to involve weakening EU laws to allow contamination with unapproved GM material.

[2] The GM Nation? public debate in 2003: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releas...rejects_gm.html and the responses to the GM ‘coexistence’ consultation in England: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releas...c_13112007.html

[3] See Friends of the Earth's media briefing on the food crisis: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/food_crisis.pdf

And Who Benefits Report showing GM crops have failed to tackle hunger and poverty and lead to a massive increase in pesticide use: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releas...d_13022008.html

[4] http://www.parliament.the-stationery-offic...uk/pa/cm200708/

IAASTD global press release: http://www.agassessment.org/docs/Global_Pr...lease_final.doc

[5] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/...ll/451223b.html



The Independent (UK) Commentators, 19 June 2008.

The argument against allowing genetically modified crops to be grown commercially in Britain can be summed up in two words: green concrete.

It means a landscape in which fields have a crop growing in them but nothing else. No wild plants or flowers of any sort, no butterflies or moths, no smaller insects on which birds and their chicks can feed, and so no birds. Green concrete means a countryside that still may be called the countryside, and may still appear green, but apart from the crop, it will be entirely sterile and lifeless.

That is what would happen if the GM crops previously proposed, including maize, beet and oilseed rape, were allowed to be grown on a commercial scale. For they were all genetically engineered to be able to survive the application of increasingly powerful weedkillers, known as "broad spectrum" herbicides, which would kill everything else in the field.

The best known of these chemicals is glyphosate, made by Monsanto under the trade name Roundup. Why is it called Roundup? Because nothing escapes.

In some countries, losing farmland wildlife might not matter so much. In the US, for example, people do not go to the grain prairies of Kansas to see flowers and birds; American agricultural areas are for agriculture. If you want to see wildlife you go to a wilderness area. The US is so big that there are plenty of these, some of them the size of Wales.

But Britain is different. It is a relatively small nation with an intimate, patchwork countryside and, if we want our wildlife to survive, much of it must survive on farms. Yet our farmland wildlife, especially birds and wild flowers, has already been given a catastrophic battering by the intensification of agriculture that has taken place in recent decades.

Who sees a cornfield dotted with red poppies now? How many people hear skylarks? Declines in farmland birds are incredible. Since the 1970s, tree sparrows have declined by 93 per cent, corn buntings by 89 per cent, grey partridges by 88 per cent, turtle doves by 83 per cent and so the list runs on.

This has happened just with conventional weedkillers and pesticides, which do allow some fauna to survive. The introduction of broad-spectrum chemicals, which GM technology would allow, would be a further and fatal ratcheting-up of the intensification process for farming. Nothing would be left. The Government demonstrated this with its farm-scale evaluations of GM crops from 1998 to 2003. They proved wildlife was damaged far more by the GM process than by conventional methods.

Of course, there are many other crop modifications possible besides herbicide tolerance. In years to come, as climate change takes hold, we may need crops engineered to be drought-tolerant or salt-tolerant. They could be real life-savers ­ but they are not on offer yet.



The Herald (UK), 19 June 2008. By Michael Settle.

Britain must reconsider growing genetically modified crops to help increase food yields, lower prices and enhance security of supply, a senior UK Government minister has told The Herald.

In a deeply controversial move that will place Westminster at odds with anti-GM Holyrood, the cabinet member made it clear, in the face of rising commodity prices, crop shortages caused by climate change and the increasing world population, Britain could simply no longer afford not to reconsider introducing GM crops .

"With the current problems, the first priority must be to increase food production; that means we must reopen the debate on GM. It's a global issue but each government has a duty to do what it can," said the minister, adding: "The green groups won't like it but we will have to take them on."

The subject could be raised at today's EU summit in Brussels, which will be dominated by the food and fuel crises. Gordon Brown will put forward a six-point plan to help combat rising food prices, which includes increasing investment in agricultural research.

No 10 sources made it clear the Prime Minister is willing to have the debate on GM crops reopened. His cabinet colleague's remarks come as UK inflation has hit 3.3% and is on course to top 4% later this year, a rise fuelled largely by soaring food prices. In the year to May, world agricultural prices rocketed 60%, with domestic food retail prices up 8%.

Last night, a spokesman for Alex Salmond, the First Minister, said the Scottish Government would be strongly opposed to the reconsideration of GM crops; it has a veto on them north of the border.

"We would be very concerned about that. Scotland has an international reputation second to none in terms of the quality of our environment and trust in the quality of our foodstuffs. These could be jeopardised by GM," he added.

However, there is support for a reconsideration of the technology in Britain. James Withers, chief executive of the National Farmers Union Scotland, said: "GM and whether it has a future in Scotland should be on the agenda. The world has turned on its head in 12 months.

"It would be negligent not to look at every opportunity to improve production and reduce costs. There is a danger that the world is moving on while we are stuck in time."

Bill McElvey, principal of the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh, said: "It should be on the research agenda. It's up to society to decide which is the lesser of two evils: expensive food or GM crops?"

The GM food controversy erupted in 2003 when a mixture of public unease and hostility from green campaigners and political opponents meant the UK Government did not pursue the policy. At present, there are no GM crops grown commercially in Britain



GM Watch, 19 June 2008.

Yesterday's Farming Today programme on BBC Radio 4 proved just how far pro-GM lobbyists are prepared to go to mislead people over GM crops - and just how willing some BBC editors and journalists are prepared to go to provide them with a platform.

The piece was supposedly about the 60% decline in UK biodiversity reported by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), but Farming Today chose to headline the suggestion that GM crops would "help Nature" given the "significant environmental benefits of the GM field trials".

This was based on no more than the pro-GM ultra-industry-friendly vice president of the NFU, Paul Temple, responding to a passing question from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, who were enquiring into the broader issues around the UK's biodiversity decline, "Are GMs a threat to biodiversity?"

Temple claimed there were "significant benefits". And the NFU's Vice President justified that answer as follows:

"I took part in the Field Scale Evaluation Trials - what fascinated me was the significant environmental benefits they actually offered, because whenever I took visitors to the site and put them in the middle of a field during the winter, invariably they got the two halves mixed up, and one was a herbicide trial. They looked at the side that was oil seed rape that was full of weeds that provided over winter feed for various animals, and then they looked at the side that was immaculately clean and only had oil seed rape, and in their mind they said the clean side is the GM side, the side with weeds that's the good side. I thought that was particularly telling that that was the sort of thought process of people who had never been actually involved in it."

This is an outrageously misleading answer from someone who claims to be science led in his opinions, because the results of the very trials that Temple is referring to showed that it was the GM oilseed rape he was growing that was worse for biodiversity!!! http://www.nerc.ac.uk/press/releases/2003/21a-gmo.asp

Of the crops tested in the farm scale evaluations only GM maize emerged as better for biodiversity than the conventional crop, and even that result was problematic as the conventional maize farmers were treating weeds with atrazine - a herbicide banned in the EU shortly afterwards because of its problematic effects.

It's also the case - since Paul Temple seems so keen on anecdotal evidence - that there were repeted reports from observers of the pro-GM farmers involved in the trials deliberately allowing weed growth in the GM part of the trial in order to try and provide the GM crop with a better biodiversity profile. If this is the case, then the potential damage to biodiversity from GM oilseed rape will be even higher than that shown by the results of the trials. http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE4/Fixing-The-FarmMar02.htm

Farming Today pursued the GM question with the Environmental Audit Committee's chair, Tim Yeo. His response was:

"I don't think the evidence is conclusive yet re: claimed benefits. I remain puzzled by the keenness of farmers to grow GM crops when there doesn't appear to be a great consumer demand for food which contains GM ingredients. There's a danger here that farmers are falling back into their old ways of thinking they are producers, but they are also in the marketing business and if you ignore what the market's looking for you'll do yourself an awful lot of harm.

"There appears to be quite a significant body of consumers, as reflected in what the supermarkets in this country are asking for, who would like food free from GM ingredients. And that given what the same witness said (Paul Temple) that most countries abroad can no longer produce such types of food that would give them (farmers) a terrific advantage if for the time being at least they continued following a GM free policy in this country."

Listen again (18 June) http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/farmingtoday/index.shtml


Exclusive Official review admits biofuel role in food crisis

The Guardian (UK), 19 June 2008. By Julian Borger.

Britain and Europe will be forced to fundamentally rethink a central part of their environment strategy after a government report found that the rush to develop biofuels has played a "significant" role in the dramatic rise in global food prices, which has left 100 million more people without enough to eat.

The Gallagher report, due to be published next week, will trigger a review of British and EU targets for the use of plant-derived fuels in place of petrol and diesel, the Guardian has learned.

The study marks a dramatic reversal in the role of biofuels in the fight against global warming. As recently as last year, corn ethanol and biodiesel derived from vegetable oil were widely seen as important weapons in that fight - and a central plank of Gordon Brown's green strategy. Now even their environmental benefits are in question.

A panel of government experts, chaired by Professor Ed Gallagher, head of the Renewable Fuels Agency, has said that far more research is needed into the indirect impact of biofuels on land use and food production before the government sets targets for their use in transport.

The first such target is already in place. Since April, all petrol and diesel in Britain has had to contain 2.5% of biofuels, a stepping stone towards a 2010 target of 5%. The EU is contemplating a 10% target by 2010. The new report means all those goals will have to be reconsidered.

A government official familiar with the Gallagher review said: "Simply setting a target without stipulating what kind of biofuel is to be used in what circumstances can have all sorts of unintended consequences."

Another official said: "The review has thrown up the likelihood of significant impacts. UK and EU targets will have to be addressed."

The report says there is a place for biofuels, both as an alternative to fossil fuels and as a source of income for poor farmers with marginal lands. But it says a distinction must be drawn between "first-generation" biofuels, which use food crops such as corn, rapeseed, palm and soya, and experimental "second-generation" fuels based on fibrous non-food plants which could theoretically be grown without displacing other crops and raising food prices. Criteria to guide fuel policy would consequently have to be drawn up.

It was unclear yesterday whether Britain had left it too late to influence EU biofuel targets, after the government failed to raise objections in a succession of votes in European environment and industry committees. British officials believe the issue can still be revisited in Brussels.

The transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, ordered the review in February, at the height of the food price crisis, but the panel only began work in March and was asked to deliver its conclusions three months later. "There was so little time, I expected it would just be a review of the literature, but it has gone much further than I expected. It has substantive things to say," said a government official involved in drafting the report.

The role of biofuels, which pits concerns over climate change against the need for food security for vulnerable populations, was the most controversial issue at a summit on the food crisis earlier this month in Rome. The US and Brazil, both large-scale biofuel producers, argued fiercely against any hint of criticism of their cultivation in the conference's final statement, which called only for "in-depth studies".

An American claim that biofuels contributed less than 3% to food price rises was widely derided. The IMF estimates their impact as 20-30%, and other estimates are even higher. Over a third of US corn is used to produce ethanol, while about half of EU vegetable oils go towards the production of biodiesel.

After the Rome summit, a British government team involved in the Gallagher review visited the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to consult specialists who had drawn up UN recommendations on biofuel use. They emerged saying their views were "identical". The FAO recommendations advised against a moratorium on biofuel use or the continuation of "business as usual" under existing policies, calling instead for a set of international standards to ensure plant-derived ethanol and biodiesel did not harm the food supply. Keith Wiebe, a senior agricultural economist at the FAO, said: "There is a push towards the development of these liquid biofuels that is in advance of our understanding of their impact. We need to know more about those impacts, before pushing too hard."

The UN's World Food Programme has called the food crisis a "silent tsunami" which is pushing more than 100 million people worldwide into hunger.


Listen to this audio:

John Vidal on a report that says biofuels have caused world food shortage




The San Diego Union-Tribune (USA), 18 June 2008. By Doug Gurian-Sherman.

The food crisis is much in the news. It is also on the minds of the biotech industry, which is using rising food worries to suggest, contrary to the evidence, that genetically engineered, or GE, crops are needed to help the world feed itself. The recent spike in food prices is due to increased demand, drought and trade policies rather than to inadequate global production. But world population is growing, so it is worthwhile to consider the role of GE for ensuring adequate, affordable and sustainable food in the future.

After 20 years of GE research and 13 years of commercialization, GE crops have a track record that allows us to evaluate their future prospects. And so far, they have shown little progress on the biggest food production issues, such as intrinsic yield, stress tolerance and improving sustainability. The weak performance to date raises questions about how much more of our scarce research dollars should be devoted to this controversial technology. Moreover, the lax regulation of both food safety and environmental risks from GE also remains to be addressed, especially in developing countries that often have no regulatory infrastructure to evaluate GE crops.

Most relevant for food sufficiency are properties such as yield ­ producing more on available land ­ and better use of resources, especially in the face of climate change. Agriculture already accounts for about 70 percent of human water use, so using less water to grow crops is increasingly important. And because current industrialized agriculture often degrades soil and causes substantial pollution from fertilizers, pesticides and climate-changing gases, we need to do a better job of producing food without degrading the environment.

Let's be clear. As of this year, there are no commercialized GE crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly, there are no GE crops on the market that were engineered to resist drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.

The most widely grown GE crop in the United States, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, has not increased yield above its conventional non-GE counterparts, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture trend data and numerous field studies. Insect-resistant GE crops have sometimes indirectly improved yields by reducing insect damage ­ so-called operations yield. But such yield increases have been modest, and recent studies suggest that much of the apparent improvements may be due to other advances, such as from conventional breeding. New innovations, using new insights from our growing knowledge of crop genetics, are improving the versatility and speed of these established, productive breeding techniques, without using GE.

What about environmental benefits? Those, too, have been modest at best.

Cutting through the rhetoric, overall pesticide use (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) has not been reduced through GE. Although there may have been some initial reductions, recent U.S. data suggest that herbicide use in GE crops is now significantly higher than it was prior to their introduction. Weeds that have developed resistance to the herbicide used with GE crops now infest several million acres, forcing greater herbicide use. Insect-resistant GE crops have reduced overall insecticide use somewhat, but on balance GE crops have not reduced our dependence on pesticides.

Soil erosion and degradation can be reduced by reducing tillage. And reduced tillage often accompanies GE herbicide-tolerant crops. But reduced-till methods were on the rise prior to the adoption of GE crops. The USDA reported in 2002 that the data did not point to GE as a significant contributor to reduced tillage.

In many cases we can accomplish the same or better results at less expense by applying the science of agroecology. Insecticide use can be reduced by alternating the use of more crop types rather than growing nothing but corn, or only corn and soybeans. Soil erosion can be largely eliminated by the common organic practice of using cover crops between seasons. These and other practices improve soil, which thereby retains more water, helping crops during droughts. Large improvements in water use can be achieved through technologies such as drip irrigation rather than wasteful methods commonly used now.

Many of these issues are discussed in a recently published report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, sponsored by the World Bank and U.N., which concluded that the role of GE in improving food security in the developing world should be secondary to other approaches.

Finally, to the extent that GE may provide benefits in the future, GE must be adequately regulated to ensure food safety and protect the environment. Unfortunately, the United States, with industry support, has neglected the regulation of GE crops. The Food and Drug Administration does not approve the safety of GE foods; it simply ushers them into the market. The FDA has only a voluntary regulatory process for GE food safety, fundamentally unchanged since 1992, that requires no specific safety tests and largely allows companies to determine the tests they conduct. USDA was criticized in 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences for insufficient scientific rigor in its environmental safety assessments, and has recently lost several cases in federal courts for its lax regulation. Its own inspector general severely criticized its regulatory apparatus in 2005. USDA is revising its regulations, but current drafts do not adequately address previous criticisms.

The challenge of growing and distributing food for a hungry world deserves serious attention. So far the inflated claims of the biotechnology industry are not backed up by scientific evidence, but its rosy rhetoric obscures our choices. This can keep us from investing in tools such as conventional breeding and agroecology that, based on their track record, should be leading the way to helping the world feed itself.

Gurian-Sherman is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C.

Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Oct 23 2008, 09:09 AM

Super Advanced Member

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GM NEWS UPDATE, 20 October 2008

For daily global news on GM issues visit http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news


EU Keeps 'Zero Tolerance' Policy On Biotech Imports For Now

Dow Jones Newswires, October 20 2008. By Matthew Dalton.

USA: A non-genetically-modified food labelling initiative is the "beginning of the end" for GMs, the Soil Association has claimed

Reed Business Information, 20 October 2008. By Lucy Busuttil.

Protect agriculture and stand up against GM crops

Greenpeace distributes GMO cure to EU environment ministers
Greenpeace International press release, 20 October 2008.

Engineering a False Hope

Sustainable agriculture, not genetic engineering, may be the answer to the world’s growing food needs.
Mother Earth News, October / November 2008.
By Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Bt's soil chemistry

Down to Earth (Science and Environment), October 20 2008. By Kirtiman Awasthi.

Killer Bt. Cotton fails again in Vidarbha (India)

Merinews, 19 October 2008. Narendra Ch.

Farmer suicides in Vidarbha (India)

[taken from GMWatch's Weekly Watch 261]

Marker Assisted Selection (MAS)

Independent on Sunday - Letters (UK), 19 October 2008.

Seed company has expensive monopoly

Des Moines Register (Letters), October 17 2008.

EU’s Vassiliou: no need to change GM zero tolerance

Reuters / Thomson Financial News, 16 October 2008.

Bayer faces 1,200 rice-damage lawsuits after blocking class action

Bloomberg, 15 October 2008. By Andrew Harris and Margaret Cronin Fisk



Dow Jones Newswires, October 20 2008. By Matthew Dalton.

BRUSSELS - The European Union for now will keep its "zero tolerance" policy on allowing the presence of unapproved varieties of genetically modified plants in imported food and animal feed, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said Monday.

Biotech companies, farmers and feed importers sought a change to the policy because of concerns that imports with trace amounts of unapproved biotech plants would be blocked from the E.U. The concern is particularly acute for soybeans: the E.U. imports about 75% of its supply, and they form a crucial source of protein in the diet of Europe's livestock.

The E.U. is making progress toward approving new plant varieties for import, said commission health spokeswoman Nina Papdoulaki, citing the clearance of a biotech corn and soybean in the last seven months. The commission also sent a biotech soybean - Roundup Ready 2, developed by Monsanto Co. (MON) - to the European Council for approval, putting it on track for final import clearance by next year's harvest in the fall.

"We believe with the authorization of these products, there won't be any need for a (policy change), at least for the time being," Papadoulaki said.

The commission will continue to monitor the situation and may decide that a change to the "zero tolerance" policy is in fact necessary, she added.

The E.U. approves genetically modified plants at a slower rate than the U.S. The difference has already stopped corn exports to the E.U. from the U.S., because the risk of contaminating normal corn shipments with biotech varieties not approved for import in the E.U. is too great.

Comment by GM-free Ireland:

After extensive lobbying over the past few months, GM-free Ireland, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and numerous other campaigners across the EU have struck another victory to protect our food chain from contamination by unapproved GMOs, despite vigorous counter-lobbying from the USA, Monsanto, Fine Gael, the IFA, the Irish Feed and Grain Association etc. Thanks and congratulations to all who took part in this campaign!



Reed Business Information, 20 October 2008. By Lucy Busuttil.

A non-genetically-modified food labelling initiative is the "beginning of the end" for GMs, the Soil Association has claimed.

The label will be launched by more than 400 American processors and retailers next year and has the backing of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

About 28,000 products will be labelled by the companies, which have a combined worth of $12bn.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, told Farmers Weekly: "Labelling stopped consumers buying milk from cattle treated with the growth hormone rBGH, leading Costco, Kroger, Publix, Safeway and Wal-Mart to turn to non-GM, own-brand milk.

"It is the 'beginning of the end for GM worldwide'," he said. Monsanto, rBGH developer, is now selling off the hormone, he added.

Lord Melchett said a Soil Association survey provided further evidence of opposition to GMs.

It showed that more than half of American consumers would not eat food containing genetically modified ingredients.

Given the choice, 53% of those surveyed said they would not eat GM products while 87% of Americans believed food should have its GM content labelled, the survey suggested.

At the same time, he argued, farmers were rejecting GM crops. "European farmers have been being told to turn to GM for two decades because American farmers love GM," he said.

"But look at GM alfalfa - US farmers got it banned in courts because it makes weeds resistant to pesticides."

Lord Melchett said that the Soil Association was not anti-yield nor anti-techonology, but said farmers should look to other technologies instead of "old-fashioned" GM.


Greenpeace distributes GMO cure to EU environment ministers

Greenpeace International press release, 20 October 2008.

Luxembourg / Brussels - The EU is suffering from a debilitating bout of Monsantosis, caused by its lax and unscientific approach to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Greenpeace warned EU environment ministers meeting in Luxembourg this morning. With ministers locked in crucial discussions on the future of the EU's authorisation system for GM crops, Greenpeace volunteers riding in an ambulance distributed a life-saving GMO first aid kit to help fight off the lies of the agro-biotech industry.

The 'AntiCorp' pills are designed to reduce the effects of corporate lobby viruses and encourage commitments for the protection of health, agriculture, biodiversity and food security. Activists also displayed a giant 'scary maize' banner and a message reading: "GMOs THREATEN FOOD SECURITY - EU ACT NOW".

"The EU is still unable to predict the long-term impact of GM crops on the environment, biodiversity and on our health. EU environment ministers must act now to protect our food and agriculture," said Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU GMO policy director.

The EU's current authorisation process is fundamentally flawed since it ignores the long-term effects of GMOs, evidence on their biodiversity impacts, diverging scientific opinions and concerns from EU member states. Changes in agricultural practices, loss of traditional farming knowledge and the effects of contamination are also not considered under the EU process.

"EU public opinion is strongly opposed to GMOs and the ministers know it. It 's time they spoke out in favour of improving the current system to stop GMOs from finding their way onto our fields and into the food chain," said Contiero.

Greenpeace calls on environment ministers to ensure that EU legal requirements on GMOs are respected and, in particular, that environmental risk assessments are carried out by independent bodies with the necessary scientific expertise. Greenpeace also urges ministers to put into place measures to avoid seed contamination and allow member states to establish GMO-free areas.

"Given the climate and food crises the world is currently facing, ministers need to protect Europe from the dangerous distraction of GMOs and instead focus on real solutions. We need modern farming methods that ensure higher yields, are more climate-resilient, do not destroy natural resources and can guarantee food security," said Contiero.


Marco Contiero - Greenpeace EU GMO policy director: +32 (0)2 274 1906, +32 (0)477 777 034 (mobile), marco.contiero@greenpeace.org

Action photo & video images and media queries:

Mark Breddy - Greenpeace EU communications manager: +32 (0)2 274 1903, +32 (0)496 156 229 (mobile), mark.breddy@greenpeace.org


Sustainable agriculture, not genetic engineering, may be the answer to the world’s growing food needs.

Mother Earth News, October / November 2008.
By Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Biotech companies tell us that genetic engineering will provide insurance against growing demands on our food supply, but scary questions remain.

The recent spike in food prices, as well as concerns about what the future may hold, are weighing on the minds of people across the globe. The biotech industry is exploiting such worries and claiming, contrary to evidence, that genetically engineered (GE) crops must be accepted to help the world feed itself. The industry hopes to use these scare tactics to expand into the many countries, especially in Europe and the East, that have wisely rejected GE foods because their human health and environmental safety have not yet been assessed.

After 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, GE crops have a track record that allows us to evaluate their performance. So far, there has been little progress in achieving important goals such as increased yields, better stress (drought) tolerance and improved sustainability in the form of decreased need for fertilizers, tilling and pesticides. Moreover, food safety and environmental risks from genetic engineering also remain to be addressed.

The most widely grown genetically engineered crop in the United States, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, has not increased yield above its conventional counterparts, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) trend data and numerous field studies. Insect-resistant GE crops have sometimes indirectly improved yields, but such yield increases have been modest, and recent studies suggest that much of the apparent improvements may instead be due to advances in conventional breeding. New insights from our growing knowledge of crop genetics are improving these conventional breeding techniques — without genetic engineering.

What about environmental benefits? Those, too, have been modest at best. Overall pesticide use (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) has not been reduced through genetic engineering. In fact, some weeds have developed a resistance to the herbicide used with GE crops, which forces greater overall herbicide use and cancels out the decreased insecticide use from insect-resistant GE crops.

In many cases we can accomplish the same or better results at less expense by applying the science of agroecology. Insecticide use can be reduced by increased crop rotation. Soil erosion and degradation can be reduced by planting cover crops between seasons and decreasing tillage. These and other practices improve soil condition, which thereby retains more water, helping crops through droughts. Many of these issues are discussed in a recently published report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, [http://www.agassessment.org/] an organization sponsored by the World Bank and The United Nations.

Finally, to the extent that genetic engineering may provide benefits in the future, it must be adequately regulated to ensure food safety and protect the environment. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only a voluntary regulatory process for GE food safety, and the USDA was criticized in 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences for insufficient scientific rigor in its environmental safety assessments. Its own inspector general severely criticized its regulatory apparatus in 2005. The USDA is revising its regulations, but current drafts do not adequately address previous criticisms.

So far the claims of the biotechnology industry are not backed up by scientific evidence; its rosy rhetoric obscures our choices. This can keep us from investing in tools such as conventional breeding and agroecology that, based on their track record, should be leading the way to helping the world feed itself.

Better Farming, Naturally

These common-sense techniques are all proven ways to improve food production. Who needs controversial genetic engineering?

Yields can be increased with selective breeding techniques.

Chemical use can be reduced by rotating crops.

Soil's water-holding capacity and resistance to erosion can be enhanced with reduced-till practices and cover crops.



Down to Earth (Science and Environment), October 20 2008. By Kirtiman Awasthi.

[image caption: Soil nutrient availability at risk too]

It does kill the nasty bollworm. What about friendly microbes?

Transgenic crops come with a range of biosafety concerns, which are contested because the discussion of such crops is highly polarized. Researchers of the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), in a recent study, said Bt-cotton may affect soil microbes and nutrients available to the plants. "The Bt toxin has the potential to enter the soil through root secretion and from decaying roots where it comes in direct contact with soil microbes," said Keshav Raj Kranthi, senior scientist at the Central Institute for Cotton Research in Nagpur.

Bt cotton has the genetic sequence called cry1Ac, which produces the Bt toxin that kills bollworms, serious cotton pests. While Bt bacterium occurs naturally in soil (about 0.25 grammes per hectare), transgenic Bt crops increase the Bt toxin amount (to 650 grammes per hectare), the study said.

The IARI researchers compared the behaviour of microbes in soil under Bt cotton varieties and non Bt cotton varieties, both developed by Mahyco Research Centre. In the experimental setup, they grew the crops in porcelain pots and applied urea and phosphate nutrients.

They found lower activity of certain soil enzymes (called dehydrogenase) in the soil growing Bt cotton compared to that with non-Bt cotton.

Dehydrogenase enzymes indicate microbial population in soil; a drop in their activity means partially inhibited microbial activity, the study said.

"Higher Bt toxin concentration in the root zone of Bt cotton plant could have made conditions unfavourable for certain groups of microbes," said T J Purakayastha, one of the authors of the paper published in the Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science (Vol 194, No 04). The study also found lower soil respiration rate in Bt cotton soil. Soil respiration is another indicator of biological activity, including that of soil microbes. The researchers were not sure of the process in which the Bt toxin may affect microbial activity. It could be due to changes in the root secretions important to soil microbes, they said. This, in turn, could be due to changes in the composition of substances found in plants.

Lower nitrogen

In terms of nutrient availability, the study found Bt cotton soil had lower mineral nitrogen than in non-Bt cotton soil. The researchers said Bt cotton has the tendency to take up more nitrogen compared to non-Bt cotton. Several factors affect nitrogen availability in soil during the cotton plant's growth. For example, its nutrient demand is the highest when the cotton bolls are in the formation stage; this stage leaves less nitrogen in the soil.

The study did not find any significant difference in the boll formation - or their weight - in both the cases. So they ruled out the possibility of the difference stemming from the higher nitrogen uptake during boll formation. "While there was no incidence of bollworm attack either on non-Bt or Bt cotton setup, nitrogen-deficient soils under Bt cotton may have restricted better performance," said Purakayastha.

Reduced microbial activity could have also affected nitrogen availability in soil as the microbes make nitrogen available to plants, the scientists said. "In similar studies, we didn't find significant difference in microbial activities in soils of central India," Kranthi said.



Merinews, 19 October 2008. Narendra Ch.

THE KILLER Bt.cotton has once gain failed in the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra as 60 per cent of the standing crop which was earlier affected by the mealy bug has now been destroyed by a "Lalya attack" that suddenly appeared in rain fed areas where standing Bt. cotton crop gets completely damaged.

The helpless farmers vexed with the government's lack of initiative are now threatening to go on a "fast unto death" agitation from October 26 demanding immediate action at least by opening centres for procurement to stop falling prices.

Meanwhile, nine more suicide by farmers has been reported in the last three days. This year the damage is much larger as areas under Bt.cotton cultivation is under more than 12 lakh hectares and losses are to the tune of Rs.2000 crore. All victims of farm suicides belong to backward Dalit and tribal families who were in debt and in acute financial crisis due to sudden crop failure.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari said the government also failed to come to the rescue of the farmers by providing remunerative price to their remaining crops. According to him in the last fortnight cotton prices have fallen from Rs.3200 per quintal to Rs.2300 per quintal and local traders have started cotton procurement below the minimum support price MSP.

He said the farmers are forced to sell the cotton at throw away prices in distress sales as the Maharashtra government failed to start its procurement centres on October 2 as announced earlier. In addition, there is no action at the level of the state run cotton marketing federation to start its centres before Diwali. He said that cotton growers will face huge losses resulting in more suicides in Vidarbha.

He said that if the government failed to procure the farmers' cotton at MSP then its move to raise the MSP would be ridiculed and will create more complications to the existing agrarian crisis.



[taken from GMWatch's Weekly Watch 261]

Dr Julian Little of the biotech industry's Agricultural Biotechnology Council wrote to the Independent on Sunday to say Charles's claims [of suicides amongst Indian farmers growing GM crops] were emotive and not based on facts. So here are some facts for Dr Little to ponder.

Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti, the farmers' NGO on the ground in Vidharbha, has consistently reported that it is Monsanto-Mahyco's Bt cotton that the majority of cotton farmers have been growing in Vidarbha who've taken their own lives. Vidarbha is the main cotton belt of Maharashtra - the state in India where there has been the biggest uptake of Bt cotton by farmers.

The failure of Bt cotton in the main cotton growing area of Vidarbha has even been confirmed by the (pro-GM) Maharashtra agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/...how/2030488.cms

Aruna Rodrigues, who led the recent public interest lawsuit to stop GM releases in India, included data on the suicide problem among Bt cotton farmers in sworn evidence before the Supreme Court of India.

The terrible problems with Bt cotton have also been attested to by the world-renowned Indian development journalist Palagummi Sainath from his on the ground investigations and from official reports. http://www.thehindu.com/2006/11/25/stories...12502891100.htm

P. Sainath has called the impact of Monsanto in Maharashtra "devastating" and the hyping of expensive Bt cotton seed to debt-laden farmers there who are overwhelmingly cultivating cotton in dry unirrigated conditions, "murderous... stupid... killing."



Independent on Sunday – Letters (UK), 19 October 2008.

The Prince of Wales has every scientific as well as social, ethical and moral justification for rejecting GM crops as a way to meet the world's food needs. GM crop technology is a crude and imprecise process that always disrupts natural plant host gene functions with unpredictable and unknown consequences. It is therefore not surprising to find that GM crops have failed to deliver on their promises of improved yields. There already exist numerous underexploited, highly nutritious, versatile and tasty crops such as African rice, finger and pearl millet, fonio and tef that are naturally adapted to grow on marginal land and under harsh conditions and which can meet world food requirements as the ravages of climate change take a deeper hold.

If new crop varieties are needed, then traditional plant cross-breeding augmented with the biotechnology tool of Marker Assisted Selection (gene mapping), to guide and accelerate this process is a safe and more powerful way forward. MAS helps us to work with rather than against nature's functioning as the Prince of Wales generally suggests, and can produce new varieties of crops with genetically complex properties such as enhanced nutrition and taste, pest or blight resistance, drought resistance, salt tolerance and higher yields, which is currently beyond a GM approach.

Dr Michael Antoniou
King's College London School of Medicine
London SE1, UK



Des Moines Register – Letters (USA), October 17 2008

Iowa farmers are at a disadvantage. In the face of historic fuel costs, farmers are paying higher seed prices with less choice in the marketplace. Monsanto controls more than 90 percent of the market in many important crop genetics.

The company has raised prices drastically every year with no competition, taking money from farmers' pockets and rural Iowa's economy.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has been investigating Monsanto's market practices to determine whether it violates antitrust laws. Everything in agriculture begins with the seed.

If Miller can find a way to return competitive prices and innovation to Iowa's seed market, he will have done a great service to Iowa agriculture.

- Chris Petersen, Iowa Farmers Union president, Clear Lake



Reuters / Thomson Financial News, 16 October 2008.

LIMASSOL, Cyprus - Europe's food safety chief said on Thursday she did not believe there was any need to change the European Union's 'zero tolerance' policy on unauthorised genetically modified material in food imports.

EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said her team believed any potential trade problems were sufficiently addressed by one import permit that was recently issued by the EU executive, and a second permit that was in the pipeline.

'My cabinet advises me that there is no need at this point to change the zero tolerance because we have already approved one event, we are in the process of approving a second event.

'With these approvals there will be no problem regarding trading,' Vassiliou said, speaking on the sidelines of an EU agriculture conference in Limassol, Cyprus.

The EU has approved a string of GM products, mainly maize types, by default legal rubberstamps since 2004.

But so far, it does not permit the presence of other GMOs approved and cultivated in other non-EU countries, in even tiny amounts, until the EU has also approved that specific product.

Vassiliou said her cabinet would soon be comparing notes with the cabinet of Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU's agriculture commissioner.

'If in the future, and after we compare figures, we see that there is (a need to change the policy) we have already done our homework and would be ready to do that,' she said.

Europe's livestock industry has been pushing for the European Commission to propose changes to existing EU policy, claiming that the sector will face hefty losses next year if 'zero tolerance' continues. Any such proposal, however, would also have to be approved by the bloc's 27 agriculture ministers.

'We are not changing the zero tolerance, but we are trying to find a practical way of estimating the presence of GMOs,' Vassiliou said.

Green groups are lobbying hard for the EU not to change its position on unauthorised GMOs. It says warnings are industry scaremongering designed to foist more biotech products onto European markets.

(Editing by Michael Roddy) Keywords: EU GMO/THRESHOLD



Bloomberg, 15 October 2008. By Andrew Harris and Margaret Cronin Fisk

Bayer AG's defeat of a bid by U.S. rice farmers to sue the company as a group doesn't end the matter. The German producer of genetically altered seeds still faces 1,200 individual claims of crop contamination.

Farmers in five states sued Bayer after the U.S. government in 2006 said trace amounts of modified rice being grown experimentally by the company in Louisiana were found in rice raised for consumption. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry in St. Louis in August refused to allow the claims to be combined in class-action suits, one per state. She may set a date tomorrow for the first individual trial.

While the farmers lost group leverage for forcing settlements because of the ruling, they may regain it should Bayer lose early trials, said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who teaches tort and product-liability law and is an expert on federal courts and civil procedure.

If the facts are "very similar," early verdicts "might be applied to other cases" by the court, leaving only the amount of damages for juries to decide, Tobias said. "That ups the ante for the first few trials. It might push the pressure to settle."

Don Downing, a St. Louis-based lawyer for the growers, said in a court filing last year that damages might exceed $1 billion. The figure will be lower because class-action status was denied, he said this month, declining to estimate the total.

"We wouldn't feel comfortable until our experts are finished with their analysis," Downing, of the law firm Gray, Ritter & Graham, said in an interview.

2007 Profit

The $1 billion would be equivalent to 16 percent of Bayer's 2007 net income of 4.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion) and 13 percent of CropScience's sales of 5.8 billion euros.

Bayer lawyer Mark Ferguson in Chicago said it's impossible to know whether jury findings in one trial would be applied in another. The outcome "would depend on the specific case or issue involved and the precise facts and circumstances," he said.

Bayer yesterday closed at 45.3 euros, down 22 percent from a year earlier. The German Stock Index has fallen 35 percent in the same period as the global credit crisis pushed down shares.

Bayer's LibertyLink brand of genetically altered rice was being studied at Louisiana State University in an effort to create a crop that could be safely sprayed with a weed-killer, the U.S. Agriculture Department said. Two strains of LibertyLink were found amid commercially grown long-grain rice in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, the agency said.

The farmers blame Bayer, based in Leverkusen, Germany, and its CropScience unit for damages caused by temporary bans on two kinds of high-yield seeds, export restrictions and a plunge in prices that followed discovery of the contamination.

Not Approved

Because LibertyLink rice wasn't approved for human consumption, the European Union, Japan and Russia restricted its sale, according to the complaint.

Within four days of the 2006 announcement, a decline in rice futures had cost U.S. growers about $150 million, according to the farmers' complaint in federal court in St. Louis. News of the contamination caused futures prices to fall approximately 14 percent, and American rice exports also fell, the growers said.

Restrictions were eased after Bayer's rice was declared safe by the Agriculture Department in November 2006. There are no claims in the rice litigation that LibertyLink harmed or risked human health.

Only "minute" amounts of LibertyLink were found in U.S. crops, Bayer attorney Ferguson said.

"It's our view most of these plaintiffs didn't suffer market losses in selling their rice," said Ferguson, of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott in Chicago.

Record Prices

"There was a short time when rice futures prices dropped, but that doesn't necessarily translate to losses to farmers." Prices later rose to "record heights," he said.

Bayer, where the aspirin was invented in 1897 according to the company, is the world's seventh-largest seed maker as well as Germany's largest drugmaker. The 17,800-employee CropScience unit's sales of 5.83 billion euros were about 19 percent of Bayer's total of 32.39 billion euros, according to the company.

AnalystsAndrew Benson of Citigroup Inc. in London, Richard Logan of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Karl-Heinz Scheunemann of Landesbank Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart, who follow Bayer, said they haven't studied the cases and declined to comment.

Jeffrey LaFrance, a University of California agricultural economist in Berkeley, said rice prices rebounded rapidly after the taint was disclosed. Still, at least some of the 1,200 farmers suffered during the import-ban period, he said.

LaFrance played a role in U.S. litigation that ended six years ago as an expert for Aventis CropScience, a French company later bought by Bayer. Aventis was sued over crop contamination by genetically modified corn. Separate cases by growers and consumers were settled out of court for $119 million.

People who ate the tainted food, some of whom said they became nauseated, received $9 million worth of coupons for corn products, according to their lawyer, Krislov. The rest went to growers and their attorneys.

The case is In Re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, 06- md-1811, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Harris at the federal court in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net; Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan, at mcfisk@bloomberg.net.

Michael O’Callaghan

Little Alders
Knockrath, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
tel: + 353 404 43 885
fax: + 353 404 43 887
mobile: + 353 87 799 4761
email: mail@gmfreeireland.org
website: www.gmfreeireland.org

This e-mail and any files and attachments transmitted with it are confidential and/or privileged. They are intended solely for the use of the intended recipient. The content of this e-mail and any file or attachment transmitted with it may have been changed or altered without the consent of the author. If you are not the intended recipient, please note that any review, dissemination, disclosure, alteration, printing, circulation or transmission of this e-mail and/or any file or attachment transmitted with it, is prohibited and may be unlawful. If you believe you received this e-mail or any file or attachment transmitted with it in error please notify GM-free Ireland Network by return e-mail or to the address above.


Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Oct 26 2008, 07:52 PM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

January 2008. Royal Society Policy Document 01/08, ISBN 978 085403 662.2
And at royalsociety.org

If you have been inclined to think of the bio fuel question as already settled this report will disabuse you. A remarkably thorough, balanced and clearly written policy document from the Royal society’s Science Policy Series allows no doubt that, in contrast to the precipitate actions of government bodies on both sides of the Atlantic the rush to grow bio fuel crops on the one hand and the facile reactions by some journalists and members of the “green” lobby on the other have been far in advance of necessary scientific knowledge.

The report rehearses the needs for alternative energy sources as supplies of oil run out and the disastrous climatic consequences of our growing dependence on fossil fuel combustion. Transport currently generates 60% of current demand for oil and this is increasing at 3% per annum in both China and India. (It is pointed out that the product of widely advocated of natural gas digesters usually contains around 50% Carbon Dioxide.)

The report goes on to review the consequences of early and current attempts to substitute plant-derived for fossil fuels. These consequences are associated with cultivations, (which include fertilizer manufacture, and transport of both inputs and products from the actual crop) and it urges the use of “Life Cycle assessments” or LCAs in the assessment of all such practices. For instance the mere disturbance of soil in order to grow biomass crops releases substantial and variable amounts of greenhouse gases. Other impacts include the effects on water consumption, eutrophication, and reduction of biodiversity and, of course diversion of land from food growing..

A major strength of the report is its emphasis on deficiencies in our knowledge of consequences of bio fuel production and the immediate need for scientific research. Not only are the quantitative estimates of obvious parameters uncertain but also there are other factors, which have simply been ignored by promoters of these crops. Any cultivations involving the use of Nitrogenous fertilizers should allow both for the climate change effects of manufacture and transport of the materials but for the fact that the global warming potential of, and inevitable releases of, Nitrous Oxide, are some 300 times that of Carbon Dioxide

Figures are provided which assess the overall net savings of greenhouse gases associated with a range of bio fuel crops. For instance wheat is shown to offer a net gain of 22%, sugar beet 40% when natural gas is used in processing and 215% when fired using otherwise wasted wheat straw. In all these cases the benefits of by-products as animal feeds are included in the equations

There are sections on feedstocks, conversion, bio refineries (for “co-production” of at least as wide a range of valuable organic chemicals as are currently available form the oil industry), end use (including necessary modifications to engines and the relative


advantages of spark- and compression- ignition engines) impacts on land use, water use and biodiversity

The final sections consider the need for wide publication and public discussion (to which the report makes a notable contribution) and the responsibilities of different ministries for research and development. The report, published at the beginning of 2008 does not of course allow for the creation of Ed Miliband’s new ministry and might indeed have been a factor in its creation? At least there is now hope that some effort is to be made to reverse the disastrous effects of the decline of research in these fields over the last decade.

Amyan Macfadyen

Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Dec 21 2008, 09:42 PM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07

This GM stuff shouldn't be under "food" as it's clearly not fit for consumption:


Here is a list of ten key scientific papers on the health and safety risks of GM crops and GM food, compiled by our colleagues at GM-free Cymru in Wales. Their web site includes citations, abstracts and comments relating to the findings in each case. Some of this information is new -- but some of the papers are already referred to in other publications.

All this evidence relates to GM food and animal feed approved for sale in Ireland.

Commenting from GM-free Cymru, Dr. Brian John writes:
“We hope this will be a valuable resource for anybody wishing to communicate their concerns to politicians or anybody else. The evidence of tissue and cell damage to the internal organs of animals fed on GM materials (even in very short feeding trials) is consistent, and is piling up.

It shows that Arpad Pusztai was right to call attention to this phenomenon in 1998, and it confirms his results. The health damage is not associated with strange GM creations contained within a laboratory, but with GM varieties that have already been through the approvals process.

There is something inherently dangerous about ALL of the GM varieties on the market, and the regulators are now into the territory of criminal negligence when they consistently turn a blind eye to this "evidence of harm" in the peer-reviewed literature.”

The papers:
• GM maize reduces fertility in mice

• GM Maize Disturbs Immune System of Young and Old Mice

• Rats fed with MON810 corn suffered kidney and liver damage

• GM soy reduces metabolic rate, speeds up ageing process

• Roundup residues interfere with multiple metabolic pathways

• Lambs fed on Bt176 maize had pancreas and liver damage

• Rabbits fed on GM soy had changes to heart and kidney

• Testes changes identified in mice fed on GM soy

• Transgenic plant DNA found in animal tissues (pigs)

• Transgenic plant DNA found in animal tissues (sheep and pigs)

Wishing you a GM-free Christmas!

Peter Macfadyen
Posted: Mar 26 2010, 06:56 PM

Super Advanced Member

Group: Admin
Posts: 392
Member No.: 7
Joined: 5-February 07


press release
March 26 2010

Genetically engineered corn causes new plant pest
Testbiotech warns that fields will turn into battlefields
Munich / Bremen - Large- scale cultivation of genetically engineered corn is causing the spread of a new pest in the US Corn Belt. The western bean cutworm infests the tips of the corncobs. Massive damage is being reported from those regions where the corn MON810 (sold as YieldGard by company of Monsanto) is grown on large scale. The genetically engineered corn is clearly suppressing the competitor of the western bean cutworm and thus creating an ecological niche for this insect. At an international conference in Bremen, Germany this Friday, Testbiotech will present a report giving an overview of the current situation.
“Several reports show that the damage is increasing from year to year,” explains Christoph Then, executive director of Testbiotech and author of the report. “But not much information is given to the farmers about the causes. The agrochemical companies are mainly interested in using this as an opportunity to sell other genetically engineered corn and insecticides that are highly toxic.”
On behalf of Greenpeace, Testbiotech analysed many reports on the spread of the western bean cutworm and exchanged opinions with several experts. The cause of the spread of the new pest is hardly known to farmers in US, despite the fact that the western bean cutworm has spread through the whole Corn Belt since the year 2000. Farmers have only been told how to identify infestation and which insecticides they can use. No warnings were given on the dangers of large- scale MON810 cultivation. Instead, companies like Monsanto are trying to sell new varieties of genetically engineered corn such as 'SmartStax' that produces six different insecticides in its plant tissue.
Martin Hofstetter from Greenpeace, Germany, the organization that commissioned the report, has drawn the conclusion that: “There is a race going on in the fields which will lead to an increasing use of insecticides and the cultivation of more and more genetically engineered plants. There is a huge risk of causing ecological damage. Farmers are likely to lose the race by being forced to invest more and more in chemicals and high priced seed without being able to increase their yields. Industry's solution doesn't appear to be either sustainable or ecologically sound. It will just foster extremely industrialized agriculture.”
The report will be available for downloading on friday, 26 march on www.testbiotech.org
International Conference "Second International Conference on Implications of GM Crop Cultivation at Large Spatial Scales" in Bremen: http://www.gmls.eu/index.php?home=ja
For further information please call:
Christoph Then, executive director, Tel.: +49 (0)151 54 63 80 40 and
Martin Hofstetter, Greenpeace, +40 (0)40 30 61 84 31
or Andrea Reiche, Testbiotech office: +49 (0)89 35 89 92 76
Testbiotech e. V.
Institute for Independent Impact Assessment in Biotechnology
Frohschammerstr. 14, 80807 München
Fon: +49 (0)89-358 99 92 76
Fax: +49 (0)89-359 66 22
Executive Director: Christoph Then
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