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(en) DA #29 - Social Democracy & Other Myths - GM crop failure

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 19 Feb 2004 11:49:28 +0100 (CET)

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government’s field scale trials of genetically modified (GM) crops
to be a resounding failure. Over the three years of the trials, problems
were found with all three experimental crops. On the one hand,
because the weedkiller used in the GM maize trial is banned by the
European Union, that trial has been invalidated. On the other hand,
GM sugar beet and GM oil seed rape were found to reduce farmland
wildlife even more than conventional crops, and scientists recommend
that they should not be grown in the UK.
Despite these reports, Blair still appears bent on doing the bidding of the GM
corporations. Following the trial reports, pro-GM interests were quick off the mark.

Referring to ‘misleading’ reports in the press, 114
not-so-independent scientists wrote to the prime minister. Being for
the most part consultants with the GM corporations or working at
research institutions which receive massive funding from the GM
industry, these scientists most definitely had an axe to grind.

Questioned about his response, Blair acknowledged ‘problems for
wildlife’, but claimed the science of genetics to be vital to
Britain’s industry, that it is ‘the most important science of the
21st century’ and that it should be allowed to develop. This
doesn’t square with his claims that the government has no
interest in the matter one way or the other. Furthermore, it directly
contradicts a report in July by his own Cabinet Office which concluded
there were no economic benefits to Britain from current modified
crops. Blair, as it happens, is unable – or unwilling – to
distinguish between the biotechnology industry as a whole and the
relatively tiny proportion of it devoted to GM agriculture, which
employs little more than 1,000 people in Britain.

If the government does give the green light to GM crops, then direct
action is set to spread. Already we have seen the destruction of all of
this year’s seed list trials (where new strains are tested). Now,
more than 1,500 people have joined the pledge to pull up GM crops.
With 93% of respondents to the ‘GM Nation’ consultation
believing that GM technology is driven more by profiteering than by
public interest, we can expect more and more people to take direct
action if New Labour decides to ignore public and scientific opinion.
(To sign the pledge, contact 01865 727972 or www.greengloves.org.)
Perhaps it is the willingness on the part of anti-GM protestors to take
direct action that led to two high court judges recently overturning the
defence of acting to protect the environment. It was just such a
defence that saw the acquittal at Sherborne, near Yeovil, of four
activists on trespass charges after they had shackled themselves to
tractors during a demonstration in Dorset.

Meanwhile, as the debate wends its weary way across the media,
only the scientific aspects of the technology are being emphasised.
However, during a five venue tour in November, Canadian farmers
shifted the focus to other aspects. Some Canadian farmers have
stopped growing GM crops because they are unprofitable and
uncontrollable. Often, it is only the chemical companies who charge
farmers a licence fee that see any profit.

On top of this, it is impossible to segregate the GM crops from other
fields because seeds cling to hard-to-reach places on equipment.
According to the Canadian farmers’ union, ‘GM crops have
become a threat to the Canadian farming economy, rather than the
miracle they were once hailed as’. Similar stories are emerging
elsewhere too. While the UK field trials didn’t look at
cross-contamination by GM crops, in Mexico, contamination of
traditional maize varieties by genetically modified maize crops were
found in 24% of samples, with some showing the presence of up to
four different GM types. Similar results have been found in Spain,
where Europe’s only GM crop is grown, including the first case of
an organic farmer losing their organic status due to GM

GM crops are about control of the seed supply and the inexorable lust
for profit by US and European corporations. This technology is
unnecessary. It will not feed the world any more than pleas by ageing
rock stars. For that, we need a revolution in attitude – so
collectively we control what goes into the fields, the groundwater
supply and into our bellies. This, and a desire to organise together to
do something about it.
Direct Action is published by Solidarity Federation, the British section
of the International Workers’ Association
* DA is the Solidarity Federation magazine which is about getting
real change with anarcho-syndicalism. What’s that?

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