GMW: IMPORTANT NEWS - Special GM edition of The Ecologist launches new campaign
1.GM: Halt the Growing Threat
EXTRACT: "Take the information here and pass it along. Talk, argue and debate, but most importantly act. Watch the films, vote in the poll, download the brochure, participate in the write-to-your-supermarket campaign and attend the conferences. You are powerful. You are persuasive. Your actions can unshackle us from a GM future. Let your voices be heard." - Pat Thomas, Editor, The Ecologist
1.GM: Halt the Growing Threat
The Ecologist Newsletter , 31 October 2008
Growing anxiety, growing concern, growing doubts, growing uncertainty. If you are one of a growing number of people who want to be heard on the subject of GM, and to find out how you can become involved in keeping the future GM-free, here are some places to start.
*The November edition of the Ecologist features a special GM foods report with contributions from some of the leading scientists, academics and campaigners in the GM arena. Based on the science, the report challenges the current assumption that GM crops have what it takes to feed, fuel and heal the world. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the issues surrounding genetic modification. Referenced versions of all the articles in the magazine will be made available here soon. Read Pat Thomas, editor of the Ecologist's editorial here.
*If you think GM food, engineered to contain higher levels of nutrients is the answer to pressing problems of malnutrition, you may wish to read this article, written by Professor David Schubert, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla CA, and a molecular biologist with interests in the development of the nervous system and the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders.
*A massive PR push is once more underway - thanks to the food crisis, promoting GM foods as the way to feed the world. So a new campaigning website www.banGMfood.org has been launched to provide a tool kit for fighting back. The site includes easy-to-read downloadable leaflets with all the latest evidence and up-to-date arguments on the dangers of GMOs and why there are far better alternatives for feeding the world. The site also has details of exactly who to contact to make sure your views are heard, plus loads of links and other campaigning information.
*The Ecologist has joined up with campaigning website greenvoice.com to offer a wider forum for the GM debate. Log on to vote in the poll, be heard and take action
WRITE TO YOUR SUPERMARKET
The GM-Free foods campaign is asking everyone to write to the major supermarkets to urge them to continue to keep own-brand products GM-Free (pressure from the Government and the biotech industry is making the supermarkets think seriously about banding together to introduce a united pro-GM front). Click here for details.
DOWNLOAD THE LEAFLET
You can download a short leaflet ’10 Reasons Why We Don’t Need GM Foods’ here.
More detailed information can be accessed at www.banGMfood.org
APPEAL TO YOUR MP
Suggest that he or she writes to environment secretary Hilary Benn to request that government legislation and Defra’s regulations be more stringent surrounding GM produce. Follow the links on Friends of the Earth’s ‘Say no to GM contamination’ web page for a simple way to send a letter to your local MP. See: www.stopgmcontamination.org
WATCH THE FILM
The World According to Monsanto
On 11 March, a documentary made by French journalist and film-maker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto, was aired on French television channel ARTE. Unsurprisingly, it has never aired in the US, but you can view it on various sites on the internet. A good place to start is YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMleWZXhi6s
ATTEND THE CONFERENCE
Feeding the World”¦ Are GM crops fit for purpose? If not, what then?
12 November 2008, London
The gauntlet has been thrown down by government for GM critics either to ‘put up or shut up’ within the year. This conference will examine, searchingly and honestly, the claims and counter-claims of one of the most critical environmental issues of our time. It will tackle the GM lobby and discuss how best to feed a hungry world. www.feedingtheworldconference.org
SUPPORT THESE GROUPS
Friends of the Earth www.foe.co.uk
GM Freeze www.gmfreeze.org
GM Watch www.gmwatch.org
Soil Association www.soilassociation.org
Gene Watch www.genewatch.org
Genetic Food Alert www.geneticfoodalert.supanet.com
Institute for Responsible Technology www.responsibletechnology.org
GM SUPERMARKET CAMPAIGN
Keeping UK supermarkets GM-Free
Now that the GM-foods issue is again in the spotlight, please join the GM-Free Foods Campaign* in writing to the major supermarkets to urge them to continue to keep their own-brand products GM-Free (pressure from the Government and the biotech industry is making the supermarkets think seriously about banding together to introduce a united pro-GM front).
[more details of what to do at www.banGMfood.org ]
Editorial, The Ecologist - November edition
Genetically modified food. It's a big issue. So big that we have turned over half of this month’s magazine to it. Increasingly, we are handed the notion that GM food is just like any other food, only better, because of its almost magical power to solve our most immediate crises of poverty, hunger, fossil-fuel depletion and climate change. In a world where we are daily met with the grief of an imploding financial system and the day-to-day hardships of making ends meet, it's understandable to want to believe in such easy magic.
But GM isn't like switching to a low-energy light bulb. If it doesn’t work you can’t take it back to the shop or, more importantly, remove it from the environment. Because only a handful of large multinational companies are behind its development (page 26), a GM future takes our food supply out of the hands of individual farmers and puts it in the grip of conglomerants, disconnected from the land and from those who work and rely upon it. In this vision of the future our relationship to land and food fundamentally changes; we are less resilient and more dependent on others to feed us. These are complex issues of growing concern.
What will become apparent as you read this special edition, written by leading thinkers, academics and campaigners in the field, is that the GM crops that promise increased yields (page 18), and drought- and saline-resistance (pages 22 and 25) don’t actually exist anywhere but on the drawing board. What is more, these same traits can be achieved through normal plant-breeding, and in many cases such plants will outperform GM varieties. Normal plant-breeding also means bread and butter today, rather than the jam-tomorrow promise of GM.
Why, then, the big political push for a GM solution? The answer lies in the same faulty logic that says if you want to stimulate the economy, start a war only in this case the war is against the natural environment. Much of biotech’s money is spent on PR and spin (page 30) that tells us Nature is letting us down by failing to provide enough food, and fast enough, to feed a hungry world. Let us be clear: it is humanity that has let its own kind down. The failure to feed the world is a failure of political will and of free-market economics. Indeed, none of the current crises we face is due to a lack of technofood; that is why introducing GM crops which have never been evaluated for safety (page 21) into an already volatile mix, while ignoring the real causes of our problems, won’t get us any closer to solving our problems.
Sometimes people become frustrated with the Ecologist. They ask: ‘Why are you never satisfied? Why are you anti-science?’ We are not anti-science. We are only against the inappropriate or unnecessary application of scientific principles and discoveries as a quick fix to deeply rooted cultural, political and economic problems.
As with every issue of the Ecologist, this month’s edition tries to supply sufficient tools to help you tackle the big issues of the day effectively, with integrity and intelligence, and perhaps most importantly, to help others see the bigger picture too. Take the information here and pass it along. Talk, argue and debate, but most importantly act (page 37). Watch the films, vote in the poll, download the brochure, participate in the write-to-your-supermarket campaign and attend the conferences. You are powerful. You are persuasive. Your actions can unshackle us from a GM future. Let your voices be heard.