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Irish call for moratorium on GM crops

category national | consumer issues | feature author Wednesday April 13, 2011 06:38author by Michael O'Callaghan - GM-free Ireland Networkauthor email moc at gmfreeireland dot orgauthor phone + 41 22 732 8685 Report this post to the editors

GMO is "biggest threat" to island’s farmers

featured image

• Scientists accuse European Food Safety Authority of corruption and fraud
• Doctors invoke the Precautionary Principle
• Consumers want GM-free Irish label to support responsible farmers

DUBLIN — The Irish government and the Northern Irish Assembly must implement a five-year moratorium on field trials and cultivation of GM crops on the island of Ireland, with immediate effect. [1]

Representatives of farm, food, health and environmental bodies from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales agreed the demand at the Gathering Momentum: Stop GM! community discussion [2] hosted by the Dublin Food Coop [3] yesterday.

Participants called for the moratorium on GM crops to protect our health and safeguard our environment and food exports, and for a voluntary GM-free label [4] to enable farmers and food producers on both sides of the Border to compete in the Non-GMO quality food market that is rapidly spreading across Europe, Asia and the USA. [5]

Irish beef and dairy produce (our two biggest farm exports) benefit from the clean green image of Ireland – the food island. Although no GM crops have ever been released for cultivation on the island, farmers in the Republic bought more than 7.5 million tonnes of imported GM soy and GM maize animal feed in 2008 – 2010 [6]. Animal produce from livestock fed on these GM feedstuffs is increasingly excluded by leading brands and retailers in the EU and the USA. [7]

Government slammed for mixed messages

Ireland’s previous Fianna Fáil / Green coalition government agreed to ban field trials and cultivation of GM crops, and also promised to introduce a voluntary GM-free label which farmers and food exporters need to gain market share [8]. But due to intense lobbying by the US Government [9] and the global pesticide and the animal feed cartels, it failed to implement the policy agreement with any legislation. Two weeks before leaving office, FF’s outgoing Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith voted to weaken the EU’s GM safety rules and claimed that Ireland would now vote in favour of new GM approvals [10] at EU level — without a mandate from the Irish people or the new government that followed. [11]

Farmers and consumers are extremely concerned that the new Fine Gael / Labour government might allow patented GM crops to be grown in the Republic for the first time. Although this government has made no public declaration, contradictory pre-election statements [12] by the coalition partners reveal ignorance and confusion. [13] Fine Gael’s Michael Creed TD, Lucinda Creighton TD, Mairéad McGuinness MEP, and Jim Higgins MEP all promote GM food and farming [14]. Teagasc got €10 million for GM crop research and now wants to experiment with field trials of GMO potatoes. [15]

Biggest threat to farming future

Addressing the meeting on Sunday, Tipperary farmer Richard Auler said “The proposed introduction of GM crops by the new government is now the single biggest threat to the future of farming on this island. It would destroy all of our competitive advantages — including the least polluted topsoil in Europe, our mostly grass-based production system, and our famous clean green image.”

The Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association also favours a ban on GM crops [16].

Paolo di Crocia, from Slow Food International [17], said “Since we live in a global world, stopping the march of GM seeds and crops is not only very important for Ireland, but also for the developing world, where food security is paramount.”

Denial of science by the European Food Safety Authority

Also speaking at the gathering was Dr. Brian John, from GM-free Cymru [18] (Wales), who said “the European Food Safety Authority’s litany of positive opinions on the safety of GM feed and food is a grotesque travesty of science. [19] Independent, peer-reviewed scientific research [20] clearly demonstrates that GM crops damage human and animal health as well as the environment. We have therefore reached a crucial point in the GM debate: the claim that GM benefits the planet is not just invalid, but the whole GM case is no longer even arguable.”

Dr. John recently persuaded MEPs to call for EFSA’s GMO Panel to be investigated for its pro-GM bias and revolving door with the industry it is entrusted to regulate. [21]

Dr. Elizabeth Cullen from the Irish Doctors Environmental Association [22] said “GM is one big uncontrolled experiment. The risk assessments from short-term feeding trials which the pesticide companies provide to the European Food Safety Authority are always favourable. But research by independent scientists now provides sufficient evidence of unacceptable harm to human health and to our ecosystem, that Europe must apply the Precautionary Principle and apply a moratorium on GM food and farming.”

Ireland’s GM crop-free status: a unique selling point for live cattle and food exports

Michael O’Callaghan of GM-free Ireland is advising farmers, food producers, chefs, tourism operators and consumers to take urgent action to prevent Fine Gael’s GM industry lobbyists from irrevocably destroying our reputation as Ireland – the food island.

Darina Allen, the celebrity chef and President of Slow Food Ireland [23] said “I am asking all concerned to please take up your pens and phones, get on to your local press and radio, and contact your TDs and MEPs to convey your concerns about GM food. For more information, go to the GM Free Ireland and the Slow Food Ireland websites, and mention the ten reasons [24] for your concern about the harm from GMOs.”



Michael O’Callaghan Founder and Acting Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network
tel + 41 22 732 8685
mobile: + 41 948 5491
email: moc@gmfreeireland.org

Catherine Devitt • tel + 353 (0)86 311 1043

GM-free Ireland Network
9 Upper Mount Street
Dublin 2
web: www.gmfreeireland.org
facebook: GMfreeIreland
twitter: GMfreeIreland


1 Cultivation of GM crops is banned by 8 EU member states, 51 EU Regions and thousands of local areas. For details see: http://www.gmo-free-regions.org

Neighbouring EU Regions closest to Ireland (Scotland, Wales and Brittany) + 40 English counties are strongly opposed to GM crops. Switzerland has extended its previous 5-year moratorium to 2013.

2 The community discussion was a joint venture organised by Food Action and the GM-free Ireland Network (whose 130 organisational members — and the populations of the 9 Irish counties and 9 city or town councils which oppose the cultivation of GM crops — represent over 1 million citizens.

3 Dublin Food Coop is Ireland’s leading member-owned co-operative, which recently voted to exclude any food containing GM ingredients: http://www.dublinfood.coop

4 See the European GMO-free Regions Network Declaration on Labels and GM-free Farming, 5 February 2010:

This was one of the outcomes of the Third Conference on Non-GM Labels, Quality Productions and European Regional Agricultures' Strategy hosted by the EU Committee of the Regions in collaboration with the Association of European Regions for Products of Origin (AREPO), and many other stakeholders. See related GM-free Ireland press release: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/feed/documents/GMFI-GM-fre...f.pdf

5 See “GM-free Production: A Unique Selling Point for Ireland – the Food Island: 47-page briefing with GM-free market survey, 17 Nov. 2009 (1.2MB pdf):

See video of related GM-free Ireland press conference:

For information about the market for GM-free food in the USA, see:

6 See “Ireland’s Imports of Animal Feed Commodities That Could Be GM from 2008 to 2010:”

7 GM-free Irish label good for business: Added value, increased market share, better branding and unique selling point: the most credible GM-free food brand in Europe. GM-free Ireland Network press release, 17 November 2009:

8 Programme for Fianna Fáil / Green Government, June 2007:

“The Government will seek to negotiate the establishment of an all-Ireland GMO-free [crop] zone.”

Revised Programme for Fianna Fáil / Green Government, October 2009:

[The Government will] “declare the Republic of Ireland a GM-Free Zone, free from the cultivation of all GM plants... To optimize Ireland’s competitive advantage as a GM-free country, we will introduce a voluntary GM- free logo for use in all relevant product labelling and advertising, similar to a scheme recently introduced in Germany.”

9 Biotech Diplomacy: How US Embassies Are Pushing GMOs Throughout Europe:

10 Brendan Smith’s press release:

11 The outgoing minister made no reference to the policy to keep Ireland off-limits to GM crops.

12 Contradictory Fine Gael and Labour Party political party statements prior to the 2011 election: Ruairi Quinn TD, Labour Party spokesperson for Science, GM-free Ireland press conference, 21 February 2011:

“The Labour Party does not want to see GM food or seed introduced to the Irish agricultural system. GM-free is a status that has competitive advantage at the present time... Therefore the Labour party is opposed to changing the present status.”

Sean Sherlock, TD, Labour Party spokesperson for Agriculture (quoted by Dermot Lacey on behalf of Eamon Gilmore), 24 February 2011:

“We are awaiting draft legislation to come from Europe on this area. We are committed to engaging with all the relevant interest groups and stakeholders as soon as it is published but feels it would be inappropriate to comment before that happens.”

Michael Creed TD, Fine Gael spokesperson on agriculture and European Affairs:

"Whether we like it or not we have to face up to the reality of GM foods sooner rather than later. We are living in a time where populations are swelling and global climate changes are having an adverse affect on crop yields. Drought is prevalent and with the advent of biofuels prices of various different crops are becoming unsustainable. Food security is going to be a massive issue in the future and it would be remiss of us as a country not to debate and probe the issues now.”

“Last year agriculture took a €160 million hit due to the EU Commission dragging its heels in permitting the usage of certain GM products in the production of Animal Feeds. All the while the EU was importing animals from other regions that are being fed on the very same products that the EU was banning here. This situation serves nobody, neither the farmer, who is losing financially, nor the consumer, who is being misled.”

13 New programme for Government agreed by Fine Gael and Labour, March 2011:

• No mention of GM food and farming issues.
• No mention of previous policy for national ban on GM crops.
• No mention of regulations for the proposed voluntary GM-free label.
• Incompatible paradigms — industrial agri-business and sustainable agriculture don’t mix:
• “We will prioritise a Single Farm Payment system which best benefits active Irish farmers and the Irish grass based system of production.”
• “We will develop a single brand for the Irish agri-food sector globally. Bord Bia will also work in cooperation with producers and small businesses to develop value-added Irish food brands, such an eco brand, and local brands”.
• “Further expansion and innovation in our dairy and meat sectors will be a key priority under a reformed CAP and we will work with industry to achieve more intensive levels of production.”

14 Fine Gael TDs and MEPs who are known to lobby for GM food and farming: Jim Higgins MEP, 15 march 2011:

GM feed could solve pig sector problems

The statement reveals Higgins’ ignorance of facts and denial of science:

— Rising feed costs are not caused by lack of GM feed in Ireland. We imported 5.7 million tones of it from 2008-2011!
— no GM crops currently on the market are designed for higher yields;
— numerous studies confirm farmers experience that GM crops have lower yields;
— there is plenty of scientific evidence of harm from GM crops and food in in countries where they are grown;
— the only GM fodder crop authorized for cultivation in the EU, Monsanto’s Mon810 maize, is unsuitable for cultivation in Ireland, being designed to produce a toxic pesticide against the European Corn Borer which does not exist here.

According to the Tuam Herald of 7 April 2011, “Mr. Higgins said GM crops grown solely for animal feed could be part of the solution for Irish [pig] producers in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Longford.” This displays his ignorance of farming, since GM maize is unsuitable for cultivation in Ireland, and the imported GM soy widely used to feed pigs in Irish factory farms is not approved for cultivation in the EU!

Lucinda Creighton TD, statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Scrutiny, 16 February 2008: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/government/oireachtas/EUSc...8.pdf
“We all know how important GMOs are to the agricultural industry and particularly to foodstuffs. That has not changed, cannot change and will not change under this or any future Administration in practice despite what may be put forward in theory... There is a clear case being advocated at all levels, including United Nations level, on the absolute need for GM foods in tackling such problems as world poverty and world hunger... It is too late to put that genie back in the bottle... It is clear that it is not possible to reverse and roll back from where we are in respect of GM feedstuffs... there are food shortages within the Union that will increase in number unless we enhance productivity and output. The only way to do this while competing on global markets is through the acceleration and improvement of the role of GM foods in the agriculture sector in this country.”

Despite Ms. Creighton’s claim about the “clear case being advocated at all levels, including United Nations level, on the absolute need for GM foods in tackling such problems as world poverty and world hunger”, the most authoritative study ever produced on the issue – the United Nations / World Bank report “Agriculture at a Crossroads” published by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development in 2008 comes to the exact opposite conclusion: GM crops have little, if any role, to play in meeting the food needs of humankind’s expanding population! The IAASTD report is available at http://www.agassessment.org

Mairéad McGuinness MEP, co-signed an amendment to a draft 2006 European Parliament resolution initiated by the Finnish MEP Kyösti Virrankoski calling for the EU to approve the cultivation of GM pharma crops which could contaminate the food chain with industrial chemicals, agrofuels and drugs including blood thinners, blood clotters and contraceptives. The Parliament rejected the resolution. See: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/politics/EUbiotech.php

15 Teagasc has spent millions of Euro of taxpayer funds for GM crop research, including an attempt to develop a GM blight-resistant potato — even though three natural varieties of blight-resistant spuds already exist, and there is absolutely no market for GM food in Europe!

16 ICSA Executive Researcher Gillian Westbrook:

“Regardless of the scientific arguments for or against GM, Ireland needs to be open to the potential of a voluntary GM-free label to gain access to those niche markets wanting high-value foods.”
- GM-free Ireland press conference, 21 February 2011:

17 Slow Food International is a global, grassroots organization promoting good, clean and fair food for all. It has over 100,000 members in 150 countries around the world: http://www.slowfood.com

18 GM-free Cymru (Wales): http://www.gmfreecymru.org

19 See “Commission denial of evidence of harm from GM crops and foods”, Open letter to John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, from Dr. Brian John, 10 September 2010:

See also “The GM science community is its own worse enemy”, open letter to Sir Paul Nurse, President of the (UK) Royal Society, from Dr. Brian John, 26 January 2011: http://www.gmfreecymru.org/open_letters/Open_letter26Ja....html

20 For scientific papers on the harm caused by GM feed, GM food and GM crops, see for example:

— Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements. Environmental Sciences Europe, 1 March 2011. doi:10.1186/2190-4715-23-10. http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10

— Agrochemicals found in mothers' milk in soy producing area of Brazil. GM Watch review of scientific findings, 8 April 2011:
http://gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/13039-ag...milk- in-soy-producing-area-of-brazil

— GM Crops – Just the Science: research documenting the limitations, risks and alternatives:

— GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible? A summary of scientific evidence showing that genetically modified (GM) soy and the glyphosate herbicide it is engineered to tolerate are unsustainable from the point of view of farming, the environment, rural communities, animal and human health, and economies. By Michael Antoniou, Paulo Brack, Andrés Carrasco, John Fagan, Mohamed Habib, Paulo Kageyama, Carlo Leifert, Rubens Onofre Nodari, Walter Pengue. September 2010:

— Pivotal papers recommended by GM-free Cymru:

— Testbiotech Institute reports and publications:

— Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering:

21 Anti-GM scientist wins probe into food safety:

22 Irish Doctors Environmental Association:

23 Slow Food Ireland:

24 Ten reasons for concern about GM food:

Related Link: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/press/GMFI53.pdf

GM Free Map of Ireland as of 2007
GM Free Map of Ireland as of 2007

author by Artpublication date Thu May 12, 2011 11:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

GM is a major issue coming down the track that needs a lot of informed independent debate. There has been some calls for this in NI but unfortunately business interests have used the media to avoid meaningfull opposition to the vested interests that want to bring this technology into our environment. Anyone who is clued up on GM will know that there is no free lunch out there, or that equating GM processes in say Cheese making, Beer, or GM as to new medicines, is not he same as releasing GMO's into the wider environment where they can never be recalled.
I would like to ask a simple question regarding this technology,as we know from computer technology that when a program contains a virus or something that corrupts the program from running correctly it is virtually usless but can be recovered using suitable plug in software etc.
My question therefore is "How in the event of GMO's corrupting the environment can the environment be restored to natures evolutionary settings?
Our Country may be in economic difficulties, but most people will try to hold onto the land if they can, and there is a saying "What you inherit is not yours to sell" this also means the environment that goes with it.

author by Botanistpublication date Thu May 12, 2011 16:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hey, just to answer your question Art, as far I can (from my degree in Botany and postgrad studies).

GM crops are basically normal crops with genes spliced in like a virus. A good analogy is with humans and other viruses. Our DNA is filled with "junk" DNA, DNA that does nothing from so many years of evolving and mistakes etc. But also, a surprisingly large part of our DNA isnt human, or even from the animal kingdom. Its viruses. Viruses that over the millenia infected our ancestors and inserted themselves into our genomes. So why aren't we dead? Well, just as you described, nature's "evolutionary settings" just negate it by years of natural selection and innate cellular mechanisms to counteract counterproductive DNA. This process is somewhat enhanced in plants because they can have more complex genetic rarrangements, with triple copies of DNA per plant and thus triple "mixing" on fertilisation etc.

Something like 0.05% of people, especially in western Europe are immune to HIV, just by the benefit of the mix. If there was a super epidemic of AIDS, humans would survive. The same principal applies for plants, except their life cycle is quicker and capacity to replicate is much higher, so any catastrophic ecological event can be quickly remedied, washing the "bad" DNA out of the mix. But basically, much like the problems with monoculture and wheat rust destroying large swathes of crops, GM monoculture is exactly the same, there is a possibility for short term catastrophic crop failure and mass starvation. But, and I emphasise this, this is just as likely with current non-GM cultivation practices as with GM crops. GM doesnt, at the moment make some kind of super crop that will take over everything else (doubly due to the whole Monsanto sterile crop evilness), as Genes inserted are for increased crop yield and disease resistance for the most part, and not for growth on wide varieties of media ie GM corn only growing on fields that can grow normal corn.

However, this does not necessitate GM crops nor is it an argument for them. There still needs to be long term studies and checks on any company that is considering producing a GM crop.

But, sadly, I feel that any arguments against GM crops or failsafe against proper GM "husbandry" will be quickly swept aside in the future, not out of corporate interest or greed, but rather from the fact that too many people exist on this world and are having too many children to be sustainable WITHOUT GM crops. Mathematically, unless someone starts a nuclear war or massive biological war or there is some kind of massive reduction in numbers of people, I just dont see how we could cope. We see oil wars now just so people can drive cars and run business cheaply, but how violent and bloody will land battles be, with people fighting to put food on their families tables. Best idea and most foresight ever shown by a government was the common agricultural policy.

Sorry, got a bit off topic there. To sum up answer for your question: Plants/ecology will be fine, mother nature adapts fast.

author by Damienpublication date Thu May 12, 2011 17:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And what of the thousands of peasant farmers in India who have committed suicide as a result of Monsanto's 'terminator seeds'? They are forced into ever spiralling debt as a result of being locked into trade agreements with Monsanto, who increase the price of such seeds annually (amongst doing other things).

author by Damien Mpublication date Thu May 12, 2011 17:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is a difference between combining two strains to produce a hardier crop etc (which is what humans and nature have done for millennia), this is distinctively different than injecting genes from fish, rats etc into crops. Ditto for 'terminator' and 'herbicide resistor' genes. So your history is slightly wrong.

author by Biologist.publication date Thu May 12, 2011 22:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"There is a difference between combining two strains to produce a hardier crop etc"

No difference.

You are doing genetic modification.Called GM.

author by Damien M - PharmaWatchpublication date Thu May 12, 2011 22:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is a difference, one is entirely natural, a process man has done since he got fed up hunting and gathering and settled down to take up farming, and one which involves transplanting foreign genes into crops, which in turn damages the surrounding area creating a monocrop culture devoid of any insect or plant life. So while both may be genetic engineering and or modifying, playing cupid with two strains of rice or a fish and a tomato-both are as far removed in terms of consequences.

author by V for vendettapublication date Thu May 12, 2011 22:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"But, sadly, I feel that any arguments against GM crops or failsafe against proper GM "husbandry" will be quickly swept aside in the future, not out of corporate interest or greed, but rather from the fact that too many people exist on this world and are having too many children to be sustainable WITHOUT GM crops. Mathematically, unless someone starts a nuclear war or massive biological war or there is some kind of massive reduction in numbers of people, I just dont see how we could cope."

This paragraph assumes unquestioningly that yields from GM crops have lived up to expectations. This is not so, except maybe in the brochures of monsanto. The indian experience has shown otherwise. Yields are not any better and sometimes worse in real world scenarios. Plus you end up with superweeds and you end up having to use large amounts of glyphosphate and other weedkillers which contaminate the soil.

Your unquestioning faith in monsanto's false assertions without examining the real world data leads me to believe you are not a very competent and objective scientist. In fact IMHO You sound more like a marketting student working in monsanto's PR department than a real scientist! ;-)

I think you've missed the whole point of GM foods. It is not Monsanto's goal to feed the world. They don't give a shit about that. In fact scarcity helps their scaremongering. No. Their goal is to control the food chain for as much of humanity as possible through lucrative patents and buying up seed banks so their special varieties of seeds are the only game in town. If they succeed then it's only a matter of time before we have a food disaster because of the whole monoculture scenario. Monsanto don't care if their actions result in death. As long as it's profitable. This corporation is dangerous and out of control and far too big and powerful. Remember, they made their name producing products for warfare. These are the guys who brought you agent orange, DDT and the dayton project. They don't exactly have a good record for caring about the effects their products have on humans.

if you want an understanding of corporate activities in india, read the articles of vandana shiva

Here is one of her lectures.

A good documentary about how monsanto goes about it's business is " the future of food"

author by Botanistpublication date Fri May 13, 2011 08:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yeah V, I know Monsanto are evil douchebags, thats why I said it in my text. Sheesh.

And no, I dont get my information from press releases etc., nor do I get my information from youtube. Thankfully there are lots of massive databases with research that are accessible for anyone, especially if you use a college internet connection.

I have no doubt that GM crops have decreased yield in some places. As I pointed out in my text, GM crops arent some kind of super crop that can grow anywhere. At the moment, when grown in the proper terrain, yes they do have higher yields. But if grown in terrain that the parent strains wern't designed for, then no, they wont and the local varietal that has genetically modified itself to survive in that area will fare better.

"You sound more like a marketting student working in monsanto's PR department"
Um, sorry to break this to you, but even if I was working for the Monsanto biological antichrist, the Irish branch of Indymedia is not where I would be focusing lol. Plus you seem to be confusing Monsanto's evilness with the whole concept of GM. Its like saying Israel is bad therefore Jews are bad.

author by artpublication date Fri May 13, 2011 11:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi Botanist and All.
Thanks for the inputs and I hope that Ireland North and South will seriously consider the consequences of growing GM crops or embracing this technology. Transgenic animals could alredy be in the pipeline, with no debate, or attempt to inform the public. This is simply unacceptable and politicans have a duty of care as well as the GOD Squads to state and explain their positions on this technology, as it enroaches on human existence as we know it.
Regard to all

author by V for vendettapublication date Fri May 13, 2011 19:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"But, sadly, I feel that any arguments against GM crops or failsafe against proper GM "husbandry" will be quickly swept aside in the future, not out of corporate interest or greed, but rather from the fact that too many people exist on this world and are having too many children to be sustainable WITHOUT GM crops."

You did state this no? This is straight out of monsanto's PR sheet. "its for the good of humanity not huge profits that we are doing this". Bah!
The facts on the ground in India contradict. And India has some VERY GOOD growing conditions, with up to 4 yields in a single year in places!!

As for the snobbishness indicated in " I don't get my information from youtube, I get it from college databases"

(1) Vandana Shiva is actually a respected scientist. its actually DR. Vandana Shiva PhD. Is she good enough for your educated ears to deign to listen to now? She could probably have been one of your college lecturers if she chose to be!!

(2) Biotech departments in universities are often part funded by large GM companies and accordingly great indirect pressure is brought to bear on researchers to take the right line in their research and often only certain "favoured" lines of research are pursued. This is part of the insidious corporate takeover of our universities for use as cheap research facilities funded largely by public purse. Externalities if you like. This can lead to distortions and omissions amongst other things, on the topic of GM. So those research papers are not quite as squeaky clean and perfect as you think. If your research grant depends on shutting up and choosing one favoured research topic over another "frowned upon" one then thats what you will do. If you know the corporation renewing your grant won't like your science then you (or your department) may "choose" to omit or neglect certain aspects of the research topic

I also studied science in a university which received corporate funding for certain research. They liked their graduates with no context to put their studies in and there was absolutely no sign of an "ethics of science" course. When I noted this and suggested that the very people who were in a position to balance corporate influence with understanding of the science were not given any proper context in which to put this knowledge in, and suggested they include such modules, they looked very uncomfortable. It was as if I had broken a huge unspoken taboo.

Notably the underlying attitudes you absorbed from between the lines in the official textbooks were that Nuclear power was good / safe. GM was a good thing that would feed the world. etc etc. Nanotechnology was wonderful. Human space travel was justified while people starved on a polluted earth. Plastics were great etc. No great corporate greedy fuckups and misuse of the science and tech were highlighted. No field trips to chernobyl, hiroshima, Iraq or the pacific gyre. Not even a mention of such things. Most graduates I spoke to were largely ignorant of widespread rampant corporate misuse of science and technology and yet they could quote complex mathematical formulae or use highly advanced lab equipment. Essentially a new batch of brainwashed cheerleaders for corporate science, highly skilled but with no context. Very worrying for the future of humanity.

I know you turn your nose up at youtube but knowledge comes from many sources. Not just university halls and journals. as they would have you believe. in fact that knowledge can lock the weak minded into biased and closed minded thinking patterns. matt damons character in "good will hunting" had a point. A library ticket in the right hands is probably every bit as good. Better in that you don't get inoculated with toxic university pro corporate culture.

anyway, my point is even a college educated fellow like yourself could benefit from listening to somebody like DR Vandana Shiva speak or from watchng a reasonably well researched documentary like "the corporation"

And college educated people like yourself should not be so arrogant about their "education". Knowledge is not wisdom.

For the record, I am not against nuclear research or genetic research or indeed the search for scientific knowledge in general. I love science and technology and I did after all voluntarily choose to study science. I am however totally against Corporate for profit science. I Just believe corporate control of these sciences under the model of laissez faire capitalism is a recipe for disaster
I would much prefer an open source model designed to share important knowledge patent free for the common good of humankind. Until such enlightened thinking takes a firmer grip on the consciousness of our society, science is just a potent weapon that will be used against us not for us.

Certain technologies are much too unforgiving in an environment where human beings and personal gain are involved (neo liberal capitalistic). The temptation to cut corners to increase short term profits or to release technology without thorough research and long term thinking and context is too great for big business to be trusted in the current race to the bottom environment we live in. Mans ethical growth, sense of community and personal responsibility and awareness of the big picture must develop in equal measure along with his increasing technical knowledge or it will be misused and the laws of nature are very unforgiving as you know.

History shows that In our greed oriented society as it is currently structured, we cannot trust humans to be the guardians of the environment without corruption and exploitation taking root. In such an "everyone for himself" culture, how can such weak willed creatures be trusted to be the shepherds of nuclear waste which lasts for thousands of years through chaotic political and economic turmoil? In such a culture, how can such weak willed creatures be allowed to instigate complex percolations of short term sudden genetic changes throughout our ecosystem when personal short term gain is at stake? Without changing the whole way we look at things, making the jump from thinking in terms of short term gain and corporate profit to thinking in terms of long term sustainability and benefit of all species on the planet, and making deep changes to the fundamental structures of our society, science is like a loaded weapon in the hands of a selfish psychopathic child

In fact many such psychopathic children. Each with an insatiable appetite and no conscience. One of whom is "Monsanto".


author by Botanistpublication date Sat May 14, 2011 01:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"You did state this no? This is straight out of monsanto's PR sheet. "its for the good of humanity not huge profits that we are doing this". Bah! "

Sigh. You are missing my point. I dont care what Monsanto said, and yes they are evil. We are on the same page here. My point was that any right minded and calm appraisal and control of GM crops would be knee-jerkedly brushed aside in the furture for the chance of ANY increase in yield.

"The facts on the ground in India contradict. And India has some VERY GOOD growing conditions, with up to 4 yields in a single year in places!!"

Double sigh. Yet again you missed my point. Yes they have good growing conditions but no matter how good growing conditions are, you cant just throw down seeds from America and expect hem to grow the same. There is a multitude of factors at play, which is why I said the local varietals that have genetically modified themselves can outperform. And you say 'facts on the ground' but I dont know what this means, I did a quick search of Pubmed and boom, straight away I saw a few trials indicating increased yields from Gm crops in India and china. There too would be 'facts on the ground' if im understanding your definition correctly.

"Vandana Shiva is actually a respected scientist. its actually DR. Vandana Shiva PhD."

I'm sure she is. (I also have a PhD although, admittedly not within the field of crop science but that is all beside the point). But there are also many many other PhDs and professors who are MORE qualified who argue in favour of GM, simply cherry picking one person who supports your ideals. What makes their opinions more valid then hers? Well not much. If there were substantially more professors arguing for or against GM does that make them automatically right? Of course not. So how do you make an informed unbiased decsion? Best case scenario there is a meta-analysis like a Cochrane review, next best are systematic reviews, which are both inherantly lacking of bias. Failing this, you could just look up all the research yourself, any reputable publication is required to state sources of funding for you to make up your own decision.

"Biotech departments in universities are often part funded by large GM companies"
"so those research papers are not quite as squeaky clean and perfect as you think."

First off, I wouldnt have expected biotech departments to be conducting agricultual surveys, it really isnt the sort of work biotech departments do. Maybe in partnership with another Dept, like Ag science or environental science. In any case, in my own personal experience, I think you would find the majority of academic institutions and academics in Europe to be quite ecologically and ethically astute in the plant science area anyhow. I mean these are people who have devoted their lives to learning about plant life and how it works in our world. Most of whiom I met within Botany were staunchly within the 'hippy scientist' remit. And yes, some data might be tampered with, but I would think that academic papers are still the most unbiased source of information that is available, certainly better than the hearsay of people who are idealogically opposed, such as yourself. Oh and nice move there, totally not contrived at all, instantly dismissing any evidence against your claim as being flawed.

""ethics of science" course. When I noted this and suggested that the very people who were in a position to balance corporate influence with understanding of the science were not given any proper context in which to put this knowledge in, and suggested they include such modules, they looked very uncomfortable. "

I find this hard to believe. If true, yes I agree, dispicable. Sounds like a welcome addition to any course. But I do find it at odds with my experience in the few Universities I have been with, who would welcome with joyous arms a student who actually took an interest as opposed to the many uninterested students that pass through every year. I mean this in the most sincere way as possible and dont mean to offend but I'm sure I will, but if what you are saying is true, I would more belive from your conduct thusfar that you made them uneasy due to your abrasive nature and paranoia raher than unease at being exposed for untoward practices. Again, sorry for any offense there, just my own personal appraisal.

"Nuclear power was good / safe"
Being pedantic here, but technically, with the exception of solar/wind/wave power, nuclear power is much better and safer (going by pure cold DALYs and attibutable deaths) even counting Japan Chernoble etc

"I know you turn your nose up at youtube but knowledge comes from many sources. Not just university halls and journals. as they would have you believe. in fact that knowledge can lock the weak minded into biased and closed minded thinking patterns. matt damons character in "good will hunting" had a point. A library ticket in the right hands is probably every bit as good."

That made me laugh. Not the part about the library ticket, thats a good point, just as I alluded to earlier with metioning how one can access vast databases of information from your own home. And yes, you can learn a lot from other souces, just as we all have during our lives, but you are arguing about yields and research and data and I just dont see how listening to someone with an agenda on youtube is superior to getting to the nitty griity here, especially if your arguing over things like crop yields and effect on biodiversity. And as for biased and closed mindedness, well I dont see how reading a book by someone you already agree with or watching a youtube video of someone you agree with doesnt introduce confirmation bias. If you really were a good student you would realise that a large part of science is trying to reduce as much as possible the possibility of bias or type1/type2/type 3 errors.

"I would much prefer an open source model designed to share important knowledge patent free for the common good of humankind."
Well, thankfully for the most part information is freely dispersed. As for patents, I would have to disagree. We would all like cheap drugs for everone, but how many new drugs would be made if there was no potential to recoup the massive bill it takes to develop them? Very few.

"Without changing the whole way we look at things, making the jump from thinking in terms of short term gain and corporate profit to thinking in terms of long term sustainability and benefit of all species on the planet, and making deep changes to the fundamental structures of our society,"

You monster. you just defended Chinas one child per person policy.

Oh and just so you dont miss the point AGAIN. Yes monsanto BAD, very BAD.

author by pat cpublication date Mon May 16, 2011 13:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Heres an example of people fighting back to protect their seeds. Full story at link.

"Those who have money eat well, but the poor will still eat modified," Papadopoulos said. "Through our behaviour, we need to force the state to respect us."

The remote valley of Mesohori in northeastern Greece seems an unusual choice for a stand against genetically modified crop conglomerates who are knocking on Europe's door.

Yet thousands of organic farming advocates seeking to bar so-called "Frankenstein" foods from the continent made the journey here to help raise awareness about dangers to seed diversity.

The event was an annual seed exchange festival organised by the Peliti alternative community, a Mesohori-based non-government organisation working to preserve Greece's vegetal wealth against an encroaching global economy.

"We are doing something important here," beamed Grigoris Papadopoulos, a 60-year-old agronomist whose "green" epiphany came a decade ago after years of selling pesticide to farmers.

"I realised that money is not as important as quality of life, I saw the dirt in farm chemicals," said Papadopoulos, who came to trade his wild peach and apricot seeds.

Started in 1995, Peliti's drive to "to collect, distribute and rescue traditional seed varieties" (www.peliti.gr) has drawn notice among organic farming proponents across Europe.

Related Link: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-greeks-mobilise-endangered-seeds.html
author by Tpublication date Sun Aug 28, 2011 23:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The latest Wikileaks cables not suprisenly show the the US govt is little more than a PR firm for multi-national corporations -as far as I recall Mussolni said the correct definition of fascism is the merger of state and corporate power. Anyay the cables show that the US homes in on the country that try to resist and then they get in contact with local high ranking politicans and no doubt issue threats of some kind.

For example the report says:
The cables further confirm previous Truthout reports on the diplomatic pressure the US has put on Spain and France, two countries with powerful anti-GE crop movements, to speed up their biotech approval process and quell anti-GE sentiment within the European Union (EU)...

Further on it says.
Truthout recently reported on front groups supported by the US government, philanthropic foundations and companies like Monsanto that are working to introduce pro-biotechnology policy initiatives and GE crops in developing African countries, and several cables released this week confirm that American diplomats have promoted biotech agriculture to countries like Tunisia, South Africa and Mozambique.

So we see that so called philanthropic organisations which usually distribute the wealth of extremely wealthy people some of whom may be dead -that these are used as another key part of the system to push their agenda on countries all over the world.

On reading the report and many others like it, we can see that it isn't so matter a choice but a relentless pressure and undermining of all democractic wishes and these people don't accept no for an answer.

It should be recalled that this push to use GM crops is ongoing now for at least 20 years, but time to this people is not an issue. A defeat for them is just a temporary set back and doesn't stop them at all.

Full report at link below

Related Link: http://www.truthout.com/new-wikileaks-cables-show-us-diplomats-promote-genetically-engineered-crops-worldwide/1314303978
author by Tpublication date Wed Feb 12, 2014 22:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Looks like the US Corporate State can't do enough to help Monsanto as now it is going to allow them to sue farmers who have had their land accidently contaminated by GM seeds through no fault of their own. You couldn't make this stuff up. Irish farmers should take note that these Monsanto thugs will probably be after them too.

On Jan 13 2014 RT.com reports.

The US Supreme Court upheld biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically-engineered seed patents and the company’s ability to sue farmers whose fields are inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials.

The high court left intact Monday a federal appeals court decision that threw out a 2011 lawsuit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and over 80 other plaintiffs against Monsanto that sought to challenge the agrochemical company’s aggressive claims on patents of genetically-modified seeds. The suit also aimed to curb Monsanto from suing anyone whose field is contaminated by such seeds.

The group of plaintiffs, which included many individual American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations, were seeking preemptive protections against Monsanto’s patents. The biotech leviathan has filed over 140 lawsuits against farmers for planting the company’s genetically-engineered seeds without permission, while settling around 700 other cases without suing.

None of the plaintiffs are customers of Monsanto and none have licensing agreements with the company. The group argued that they do not want Monsanto’s genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and want legal protection in case of inadvertent contact with the company’s products...........

Full text at link

Related Link: http://rt.com/usa/monsanto-patents-sue-farmers-547/
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