GM WATCH COMMENT: There have been no better friends of the biotech industry than George Bush and Tony Blair. Indeed, in a sense Blair has gone much farther than Bush on the issue by persistently promoting GM in the face of massive public opposition and out of step with many of his European partners. As many commentators have noted, Blair's stance on GM has been marked by exactly the same kind of blind obduracy that has marked his approach to the Iraq war.
Yesterday came the welcome news that Blair will in a matter of weeks finally stand down as Prime Minister. Rejoicing will be restrained, however, by the fact that Blair and his almost certain successor, Gordon Brown, are widely regarded as two cheeks of the same arse.
Here's one just published assessment of Blair on the GM issue:
"As well as making efforts to favour GM crops in the UK, under New Labour the UK has been the only EU country to consistently vote to oppose all other countries' national bans on specific GM crops and foods, including France, Greece, Austria, Hungary and Germany. It seems that Tony Blair's faith in technology blinded him to some of the environmental hazards posed by the release of GM organisms. On this subject though, he has remained determined, even though public opinion has been against him. I wonder why he didn't show the same leadership in tackling aviation emissions, where public opinion would have been similarly challenging? Is it because he has ruled in awe of big business, and no matter what public opinion says, that industrial interests have been seen as the most important shapers of policy? It has certainly looked like that to me at times."
- Greener Pastures, Tony Juniper, Guardain CiF, 11 May 2007 http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/tony_juniper/2007/05/greener_pastures.html
And here's Blair's former Environment Minister, Michael Meacher on Blair:
"Tony's natural mates are his big business friends. He feels comfortable with them, he admires and respects them and he gets a good response from them. They are only too glad to have someone in power whom they can do direct deals with." ...
The Prime Minister, said Mr Meacher, had also ridden roughshod over Parliament. "It would be hard to say this is a genuine parliamentary democracy. The framework is there but the decisions are fixed at private meetings between the Prime Minister and the power brokers in society, the financial houses, industry and the media."
Hitting out at the influence of Lord Sainsbury, Blair's former science minister, with whom Meacher sparred over the issue of genetically modified crops, Mr Meacher said: "People say that is why I was sacked. Lord Sainsbury was appointed by Blair. Blair himself is also pro-GM. Lord Sainsbury provided a lot of money to the Labour Party and he was clearly involved in a lot of GM research. This all mixed in with the Government's objectives."
- "BLAIR'S BRITAIN MAKES ME SICK" - MEACHER, The Sunday Telegraph, 21 April 2007