News review 489
We've trawled the web in search of the best videos on GM and related issues. You've sent us your favourites, and together we've created a fascinating and informative collection. Please let us know anything we've missed.
We've divided the videos into categories (like Must-see, Agriculture, Corporations, Latin America) and created an Index of speakers, where you can check out who’s in the videos, and an Index of GM crops and foods.
This section contains some of the most compelling videos we've come across. They cover a wide variety of topics as we've cherry picked from all the different categories.
Among our absolute favourites is this extract from the film The Corporation about how Monsanto got Fox News to kill an investigative news report into its genetically engineered cattle hormone.
Another treat is hearing razor-sharp economist Dr Raj Patel put the case against globalized corporate agriculture, including GMOs, and its efforts to marginalise the planet-wide push for a more environmentally sensitive approach to food production (agroecology).
This section contains films that place GM in the wider context of corporate control of agriculture and food production and that show how farmers and consumers' interests are being overridden.
Look out for The Future of Food, a groundbreaking documentary released in 2004, that distils the key regulatory, legal, ethical, environmental and consumer issues surrounding the troubling changes happening in the food system today.
Farmers Speak: Bust Up Big Ag features passionate presentations by US farmers who find themselves caught up in the profiteering of giant agribiz companies.
At GMWatch we've focused more on GM food crops than GM trees. But GM trees are a serious threat to ecosystems and to tree crops, like fruits. The award-winning film, A Silent Forest, is a real eye-opener.
We have a compelling collection of films in this section which act as a guide to the terrible record of the leading GM corporations in relation to public and employee safety and protection, regulatory compliance, and customer care. Look out too for some vibrant and colourful protests.
This section contains films on how the GM corporations are heading for near-monopoly control of the seed and food supply.
Leading the pack is GM/agrochemicals giant Monsanto. Find out about the lawsuit Monsanto launched against an Indiana seed cleaner and how it plans to own all seed and what this means for global food security.
Contrary to the claims of biotech companies, GM crops do not mean more choice: they mean that choice is taken away as everyone’s crops get GM-contaminated.
And an excellent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news broadcast takes a revealing look at how GM crops are researched and monitored for safety (or not) – and how GM genes can’t be contained.
In Latin America, GM soy production has caused the destruction of millions of hectares of forest in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. It has poisoned humans, livestock, and ecosystems.
The video Killing Fields: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, goes into this important story in detail.
India is another of the key battlegrounds over GM crops. Monsanto's GM cotton has been commercialized there but has provoked considerable controversy. And a huge public and scientific outcry stopped GM Bt brinjal (eggplant/aubergine) from being commercialised as India’s first GM food crop.
Bt Cotton Adoption in Vidarbha also shows the disastrous failure of Bt cotton in some parts of India, where it has left farmer debt and suicides, poisoned soil, and even reports of sickened and dead livestock in its wake.
food safety 28
Look out for an interesting interview with researcher Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini. Jeffrey Smith, author of the books Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, is one of the best communicators on GM food safety - or the lack of it. His trilogy of films on the topic are all worth watching and provide a great introduction to the subject for friends, educators, and decision-makers. Here’s a review of the set, under its alternative title, Hidden dangers in kids' meals.
Not all biofuels are GM, but GM technology is often critical to the development of biofuels, and Monsanto has been at the very heart of the biofuels lobby, particularly for ethanol and biodiesel. The videos in this section explain why biofuels have been criticised for hurting the poor, for causing major deforestation and for stealing agricultural land essential to farmers in the developing world. Studies also suggest biofuels may be far worse in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than even fossil fuels.
Transgenic animals have been genetically engineered to carry genes from other species. The biotech industry claims that through GM it can create larger sheep that grow more wool, cows that produce insulin in their milk and goats that produce spider silk for materials production.
As biotech corporations and their supporters continue to try and impose GM food and crops, and to dominate world food production, governments have consistently failed to protect their own citizens and the environment from unwanted, untested and unnecessary GMOs. As a result, ordinary people and NGOs have resorted to protests in order to make clear their opposition.
GM myths 8
Why are stories about GM "miracles" lapped up so uncritically by the media and why does non-GM research into solving exactly the same kind of problems seem to get minimal if any reporting, even though it is far more successful? We look at some classic examples of how GM's often exaggerated crisis narratives and hyped silver bullet solutions successfully grab media attention. We also look at how even when these claims turn out to be completely bogus, it attracts little if any attention, and how some failed GM projects, or successful crop developments that have nothing to do with GM, even get passed off as big GM successes!
GM firms 9
The GM firms present themselves as operating out of futuristic laboratories and hi-tech greenhouses in order to provide farmers with innovative crops with valuable new traits. But in reality, all the leading GM firms developed out of the chemical industry and they remain the world's biggest manufacturers of agrochemicals. The leading GM corporations together control nearly 75% of the global pesticide market.
Syngenta, for instance, is not only the world's third largest seed company, it's also the world's second largest agrochemical manufacturer. Monsanto, the world's biggest seed company, is the world's fifth largest agrochemical company. That is why around 80% of GM seeds have been engineered to be resistant to weed killers (herbicides). Monsantoâ€™s main GM product is crops resistant to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), creating a near-monopoly for Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, which is now off patent.
Having operated for many decades as major chemical corporations, and in the last 20 years additionally as biotechnology companies, the leading GM firms have a significant historical legacy. This makes it possible to examine their records when it comes to issues of public and employee safety and protection, regulatory compliance, customer care, etc.
This is particularly relevant to the regulation of GM crops, as it is almost entirely dependent on trust, with regulators normally basing their assessments of environmental risk and food safety on data from unpublished studies provided to them in confidence by the GM firms that developed the crop.
Below we look at the corporate character and record to date of the major GM firms.
An A-Z of the people and groups behind the push for GM. It includes links to the web portal GMWatch SpinProfiles - our in-depth guide to the networks of power, lobbying and deceptive PR around the GM issue.