Wednesday, 9 January 2008

EU Faces Deadline on GM Food Ban. The Parasite Crops.

"People who campaign against GM crops are committing a crime against humanity". Not my words. This seems to be the latest ludicrous claim of the GM protagonists in their attempts to conquer the European market. 'Ludicrous' because in view of the problems caused by GM's, described only briefly below, it would be far more accurate to describe the GM corporates as committing a crime against humanity:-

  • the contamination of non gm crops and wild plants by gm varieties.

  • resistance to pesticides and herbicides of insects and weeds.

  • continuous use of herbicides with herbicide tolerant crops leads to serious ecological problems.

  • some herbicides effect non target species in the soil such as beneficial predators-spiders, mites, beetles, earthworms, and microfauna and aquatic organisms including fish.

  • large scale soyabean monocultures have rendered Amazonian soils unusable. In Bolivia in many areas soils are compacted and suffering severe degradation. In Argentina intensive soybean cultivation has led to soil nutrient depletion.

  • The obliteration of traditional crops and horticulture by corporate farming has led to detrimental health effects on local communities, caused by vitamin deficiencies. Eg. monocultural rice, or maize growth (in Latin America) for export as cattle feed is a prime cause of vitamin A deficiency which leads to blindness.

  • there are serious legal consequences for farmers regarding contracts that control farming methods and future use, seed purity and its saving for home use, food contamination, the intrusion into non gm crops and wild plants of gm varieties, and the difficulty in obtaining insurance cover should any harm result.

  • (The following extract is from "GM soya Disaster in Latin America" by Prof. Walter A Pengue, Univ.of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Prof.Miguel A. Altieri, Univ. of California, Berkley.)....

...."In Brazil soybean cultivation displaces eleven agricultural workers for every one who finds employment in the sector"........."In 1998 there were 422000 farms in Argentina while in 2002 there were only 318,000, a reduction of a quarter. In one decade soybean area increased 126% at the expense of dairy, maize, wheat and fruit production............For the biotech industry huge increases in the soybean area cultivated and a more than doubling of yields per unit area are an economic and agronomic success. For the country, that means more imports of basic foods, therefore loss of food sovereignty, and for poor small and consumers increased food prices and more hunger.

This brings us back to the GM corporate pronouncement that "anti-GM campaigners are committing a crime against humanity"....a claim made no doubt to deflect from their own blatant exploitation of farmers and consumers.

It isn't just that GM crops act parasitically on the soil and wildlife and the environment. GM's are a parasite on the health and livlihoods of farmers and local populations in many parts of the world. At the most extreme there are suicides among Indian farmers, resulting from the increased seed costs and reduced yields.

Thankfully some communities, eg in Ethiopia have been able to resist the domineering influence of the corporates. They tried growing imported seeds and noticed the detrimental health effects on children. They also recognized that it was easier to mill and cook wheat which was grown from their indigenous seed varieties. The effect on digestion was also noticed to be better after consuming the traditional varieties. And last but not least the crop yields were higher! Happily farmers and local communities are collaborating with their seed scientists to return to growing and improving their traditional seed varieties.

In his article "Feeding People is Easy" Colin Tudge concludes....."In reality then our food problems are of two kinds. The first is to grow food well, get it to people and then cook it properly. That should be straight forward. Far, far harder is to circumvent the corporates and their attendant governments. New Labour has applied the same general strategy to food as to all things: to sell off the assets to the highest bidders and to hand the reins and profits to the corporates, which in this case means Tesco, Monsanto and the makers of agrochemicals. The aim is not to grow good food but to maximize cash. That in all ways is immensely destructive. In short the great threat to humanity comes from our own leaders. Now that really is a problem".

In 1998 the EU introduced a moratorium on new biotech authorizations that lasted six years, due to continuing concerns about GM crops.In November 2007, the World Trade Organization gave the EU an extra two months to comply with its ruling for the EU to end restrictions of imports of genetically modified food. The United States, Argentina and Canada argue that their farmers lost money because of GM bans, and they are now threatening to call for WTO sanctions against the EU.

French anti-globalisation activist, Jose Bove, who was convicted of destroying GM crops in southern France has gone on hunger strike to demand a year long embargo.

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