Friday, 20 June 2008

Fun at the farm

Courtesy of my friend Louise, two lovely stories about how our government is embracing GM crops. Joy. We're both wondering if this is a result of the Bush visit.

First up Brown pushes the EU to allow GM animal feed. Because the UK has such good a record when it comes to animal feed.

"Gordon Brown is calling on the European Union to relax its rules on importing genetically modified animal feed in a further sign of the Government's willingness to embrace the controversial technology. Mr Brown believes GM crops are vital to the attempt to cut spiralling food prices." From The Independent

And people should be eating the stuff too.

"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." Also courtesy of The Independent

Now I have no fear of GM crops on the basis that they will turn me green and my grandchildren will have seven eyes. I admit that there is no scientific basis for thinking that. But that doesn't mean GM crops are a good idea.

They contaminate the environment. GM crops are made to grow and grow and grow. Through cross pollination and invasive growing habits they squeeze out local wild life. Plants are not able to grow and crops are covered with pesticides leaving the numerous wild flowers, insects, birds and mammals with... nothing. The increased pesticide use on GM crops leads to more pesticide resistant crops which don't stop growing on the farm. They take over the surrounding countryside altering the local ecosystem.

All this would created the interesting situation where wildlife would only be seen in cities and ornamental wildflower gardens. Both of which I heartily encourage but I'd like to have some countryside left too.

But will they save the world? Will we be able to feed more people with GM crops? Not according to Friends of The Earth (PDF)

"Despite more than a decade of hype and failed promises, the biotechnology industry has not introduced a single GM crop with increased yield, enhanced nutrition, drought-tolerance or salt-tolerance. Disease-tolerant GM crops are practically nonexistent. In fact, biotech companies have made a commercial success of GM crops with just two traits – herbicide tolerance and insect resistance –which offer no advantages to consumers or the environment."

In fact conventionally grown crops have better chances of increasing yield.

So what about farmers? Well I wouldn't like to say as I'm not one but from the outside it doesn't look good. With uniform seeds coming from a large agricultural firm prices are going up (that Friends of The Earth PDF again) These being the GM crops that will bring prices down. And with those wonderful patents of seeds companies can now go after farmers who save seeds. Making sure they get their wallets out every year. Home growers too. Monsanto is rather aggressive about it.

But what does it matter to me? I'm a vegetarian, does it matter what animals are fed? Yes, yes it bloody well does. From a vegetable lovers standpoint an acceptance of GM animal feed marks a growing acceptance of GM crops. Once GM crops are grown here well then we are in a pickle. The ecosystem will be altered and our food... well considering the contamination from GM crops in non-GM food that already goes on consumer choice will be rather dead.

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