Saturday, 10 September 2011

Common Sense Versus Big Business


Genetically Modified Crops
- Ben says don't believe the spin!

I was talking to someone at DEFRA, and they happened to mention in passing:
'you know, we had a big presentation from the industry, and really,
GM crops will have to be allowed in if we're to feed everyone,
its the only way to solve the food crisis'
Now, this is complete and utter rubbish.

It is a line that has been put forward by the GM public relations people in the newspapers as well.
The reality is that these faceless corporations have sunk billions and billions of borrowed dollars developing these things, and whether they work or not, they are desperate to get some profit from them any way they can.

So they are lobbying the government to allow them to sell GM seed in the UK, using whatever the latest worry is. (Last year it was the need for higher vitamins in rice, then cheap drugs from corn, now the 'food crisis'. )
Once we plant GM crops there's no going back - the genes will escape into wild plants and other food crops.
We must all resist this cynical sales push.
Interestingly, Genetically modified crops are the agricultural equivalent of what has been going on with the banks.
The parallels are striking:
  • developed to create a profitable 'new market' where none existed before
  • massively hyped as a 'new way of doing things'
  • hard to understand, even by the regulators
  • so regulators accept industry assurances at face value
  • and not investigated or tested for safety before use.
  • potentially very dangerous to the public
  • designed to be costly to large numbers of 'little people' worldwide
  • designed to be profitable to just a handful of corporations in USA
  • very difficult to contain once the effects get out of control (a "systemic" risk)
And this briefing to the government is simply not true.
Forgetting all the arguments about toxicity and genetic pollution for the moment, concentrate on this simple fact:

GM crops will have LOWER yields than natural plants.

Why GM Crops will have Lower Yields
It's pretty obvious, looking at this diagram:
Here's a plant , making food from sunlight, as it ought to. It sits there, soaking up sunlight all summer, making grain or corn or whatever.

Now take that plant, and put in a poison gene from a bacteria. It is locked 'on', so that every bit of the plant has to use some of its energy making a toxic compound.
You can see that you are putting the same energy in, but of course some of that is diverted into making the toxin. Leaving LESS food for us to eat.
So there you are. Don't believe it, GM crops won't solve any crisis - they just want our money.
And they don't care if they poison us & destroy the eco-system (all that toxin might not be so great, you know) in the process.
GM crops pose a huge risk to the food chain.
GM foods have not been safety-tested, and should be resisted at all costs.
note : Ben studied genetic engineering at the Department of Plant Sciences in Cambridge.
The security of the worlds food supply is at stake here,
at risk to the same sort of short-term, ignorant, greedy fools who wrecked the banking system.

Postscript: I wrote this in 2008. In 2009 a scientific study by the UCS looking at two dozen different crop trials came to the same conclusion - GM Seeds do not increase yields.

(The Penguin has an allotment!) 


Joe Public said...

It's got to be a damn weak 'toxin' if it's 20% of the plant.

A nice primary-school-level diagram. Where's the science? Who made up the "20%" figure?

Bloody Hell, the warmists would have us believe that a very minor increase in the 0.039% by volume CO2 in the atmosphere dooms the planet.

Captain Haddock said...

A couple of serious questions here ..

Is GM food commercially grown & sold anywhere in the world ? ..

Has anyone reading this ever eaten any & if so were they able to distinguish it from non GM food ?

Personally, I'm still undecided .. I simply don't know .. but I do know about the scam surrounding "organic" food ..

I'm old enough to remember when all fruit, veg, meat etc was organic .. there was no other choice available ..

Then the clever marketeers came along & prices shot through the roof ..

Anonymous said...

I have,nt seen a more convincing diagram since brother rupert started his hybrid project in the rose garden.

Ed P said...

The explanation is simplistic. Even if, as stated, on a per-plant basis the output is less, per hectare it could be much greater. The purpose of the genetic modification is presumably to resist disease, so fewer plants will be attacked by insects & diseases, giving higher average yields.

Cornishstu said...

From what I've read GM crops are causing more problems than they are worth with crop failures putting farmers in debt.
Who wants to eat grains that have been sprayed with pesticides such as roundup, which is also having the knock on effect of producing roundup resistant weeds in the fields that this has been used in for a few years.
The bottom line is as mentioned these companies have spent a fortune on trying to develop this and want a return and bugger the consequencies.

david c said...

Complete rubbish penguin. Stick to bent coppers and politicians, you're good at that.

The Penguin said...

From what lofty tower of knowledge do you cast such aspersions? The article is written by a bloke who graduated with a degree in plant science from Cambridge, and makes perfect sense to me. Please do tell how it is that you can rubbish it?

Anonymous said...

GM crops have been grown and sold in the USA for some time now. So anyone who has travelled there (taken the kiddies to Florida, Disney etc.) will have eaten GM food. Grown two heads yet ?

Similarly many prepared foods imported from the USA have unlisted ingredients from GM origins. So that burger relish you love or that authentic Cajun Sauce - yup, it's got GM stuff in it. And you've still not got two heads.

Here are two issues going on here: Safety and Proprietory Rights. GM food is not unsafe - end of. However, the real driver is the mega-profits which the Monsantos and others will reap from locking customers into their seed-stock - that's the only potential scandal.

Anonymous said...

It's a well known fact that these people have genetically modified brains that live in their genetically modified arses

Delphius1 said...

The end-game of genetically modified crops is to lock farmers into having to buy seeds from huge pharma corporations.

Control of seed supply and by default food production is their ultimate aim.