Genetically modified foods
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England, GM foods will always be associated with lies and
deception. That's for a very good reason, because everything
we have been told here about GM over the years is provably
untrue. Take one example: we were told that GM crops were
necessary for the good of the Third World. It would help
eradicate hunger, it was said. Now we find out that the
vast majority of GM crops in the world today are grown in
North America. If GM type food is being developed for the
benefit of the Third World, why is the First World deriving
so much benefit from it first, before the others? Why on
earth do the wheat growers of the US and Canadian prairies
need seed that delivers higher yields? If GM is so important
for Africa and Asia, why aren't they top priority instead?
It beggars belief that GM is touted as the answer to world
hunger but is busy being devoted mainly to feeding the fattest
people on the planet, and not the needy and under-nourished.
Nobody is saying the scientists are lying. The men in white
coats who invented the new way of growing crops no doubt
had the best interests of humanity at heart. Unfortunately,
their patents are in the hands of businessmen, people who
struggle to produce a convincing picture of altruism. One
example: GM seeds that are making it to Africa are being
sold to the farmers there, sold in a market where farmers
rarely deal in a cash economy, and, moreover, sold as First
Generation hybrids, which means they are sterile. Local
farmers are used to conserving seeds from one season to
the next, to provide for the new crop. They are having to
get used to a brand new system of selling all their harvest
each year and saving money from the proceeds to buy next
year's seed. It's a plan that ties the dirt poor farmer
to the big seed companies - forever. There is no way the
farmers can break out of the trap. Worse, they are being
tempted to grow inappropriate crops: the rice farmers are
not just being offered GM rice, but the whole range of GM
plants. Farmers are switching to what might seem the most
profitable product available, a short-term philosophy that
ignores local need; local climate conditions; and local
Back in Britain, the GM bandwagon arrived in the 1990s.
The population was told that GM crops would need to be 'tested'
in our country. Why? Is the climate that different to the
US, or the soil, or the agricultural methods? If GM foods
are helping the hungry, why does prosperous England turn
out to be the next area for colonisation on the list? Worse,
the British public soon had to get used to the news that
GM seeds were carried by the wind, and spread. We were promised
that this wouldn't happen; we were told that these GM 'trial'
beds would be isolated and protected. Rubbish. GM plants
spread into areas where farmers didn't want them, and farmers
who had consciously said they didn't want anything to do
with the 'GM revolution' were finding their fields polluted
by the new technology. It didn't end there. The GM companies
then had the damn nerve to sue the victims for 'stealing'
the GM crops, the invaders on their land, (which they hadn't
asked for and didn't want) and were being awarded damages
in the courts! In Canada, even more bizarrely, the GM companies
were suing farmers for 'trespass' and said they were threatening
their patents, and were being awarded not only the produce
of their fields but their land as well. That was the last
straw. If there's one thing that Englishmen hate, it's legalised
robbery. It reminds them of the dust bowl of the 1930s in
America, the tragedy that John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie
chronicled so wonderfully, where farmers were swept off
their land by caterpillar tractors, all perfectly legally
and at the behest of rapacious banks and landlords.
There was more to come. The media got on the case and decided
that GM crops represented 'Frankenstein foods'. No, it doesn't
make any sense, but that didn't stop the campaign. The bogey
of eating 'artificial' food was scarey to the British public
and they turned off the idea in droves. They stopped buying
anything that even had a hint of GM about it. The GM industry
hit back, and made sure that food labelling was no longer
required to specify if packets of soya beans were GM or
not. One week, labels might say, 'made from 50% GM crops',
the next week they said nothing. The population was livid.
Big Business had once again rigged the game, forcing politicians
to kowtow to their call and outlaw information that might
be detrimental to their sales. People weren't buying GM?
The cynical response was not to tell people it was there.
How's that for deception? Oh, did I mention it was all perfectly
legal? That just made the angry people madder. They felt
used, abused, and manipulated, and turned against GM companies.
The GM industry had one last trick up its sleeve. It recognised
that a huge publicity campaign had been mounted against
its most vociferous advocate, Monsanto, so it simply collapsed
the company, dropped the name and started up again under
another title. Bad move. If anything, this just convinced
the doubters they were right. If the company was so unsure
about sales that it could re-invent itself overnight, then
what else was invented, spurious and untrue? The move proved
one thing. If you critisise the GM giants, they cry 'Foul'
and talk about the free market and consumer choice. If consumers
then actually go ahead and choose, well, like choosing something
that isn't in the big companies' interest, like buying their
food, then they'll change food packing; change company names;
and outlaw information. What happened to the Free Market?
Oh, that's only good when you, the people, buy what the
company wants to sell you. If you won't buy it, they'll
rig the market. It won't be so darn 'free' then, but at
least sales will hold up. So much for capitalists; they
believe in capitalism, when it suits them. If it doesn't
suit, they'll choose Big Government, every time.
Mike Scantlebury is one Internet Author who
fears Frankenstein farmers. He lives in Manchester, England,
the big city, but manages to grow his own veggies in his back
yard and a small allotment. He's never had time for GM foods
and reads the labels, every time. Hear what he has to say
on other topics, see him on YouTube and MySpace.
Published - October 2008
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