Welsh GM farmer a fake?
The story of the Powys "farmer who has challenged the GM-free status of Wales by planting GM crops on his land" in defiance of the unanimous wishes of the Welsh Assembly has garnered many headlines. Headlines such as:
*Farmer defies GM-free Wales vote
*GM trial in Wales - by protesting farmer
*Heroic Farmer Defies Anti-Biotech Crop Ban in Wales
*Farmer secretly grows GM crops in Wales
But if comments on the Guardian website are to be believed, it is doubtful that Harrington is a farmer - at least, in any meaningful sense of the word. He is said to be a paid consultant for the biotech industry. And he is known to be part of the biotech-industry funded lobby group CropGen.
Presumably, "Heroic Biotech Industry Lobbyist Defies Anti-Biotech Crop Ban" has less of a ring to it.
Among the many comments on Harrington's Guardian article, very few could be said to be supportive. Here's a small selection.
The article and all the comments can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/28/gm-wales-jonathon-harrington?showallcomments=true&commentpage=3&commentposted=1
Comments on 'Why I planted genetically modified maize on my Welsh farm'
*Your smug indifference to democracy and your patronizing tone says it all.
*Has anyone noticed at the end of this article that this farmer is a consultant for CropGen? "An organisation that promotes crop biotechnology" and which is funded by the GM industry, see: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=CropGen
How planting a GM crop that didn't grow properly proves that we need GM crops in the UK is beyond me.
*Harrington's stance would be more believable if he was not a paid consultant of several biotech firms - Monsanto, Syngenta. Look into the background of those that believe "passionately" and you'll always find a financial link.
*Mr Harrington is not what he purports to be.
Harrington refers to himself as "a farmer" and refers to "my Welsh farm." He seems to enjoy his self-appointed role as the small man wanting to plant a registered crop without let or hindrance, confronted by a faceless bureaucracy.
Time to get real. Maybe it's time to tell the world that he is not a farmer at all; that he does not have a farm where crops can be grown; and that he lives so high up on the mountainside that even conventional fodder maize (let alone a Mediterranean GM hybrid) would be most unlikely to produce a decent crop. Sadly, he is also disabled, and so he cannot have planted or harvested any of these purported crops himself. His neighbours are now increasingly convinced that this is all a gigantic con, pulled by Harrington and his cronies in CropGen, simply for the purpose of embarrassing the Welsh Assembly Government.
They don't think he has grown GM plants out in the open at all. Maybe he and his two un-named friends grew a few seeds in their window-boxes and then dumped the harvested foliage into their compost heaps? Then, I suppose they can say that they were -- sort of -- telling the truth all along.
This is the craziest stunt I have ever seen, pulled by some highly irresponsible zealots working for a mad GM industry.
Mr Harrington, if you read this and want to tell me I'm wrong, let's have the facts which you have so steadfastly refused to give anybody -- including the Welsh Assembly, the FSA and the County Council's enforcement officers -- until now.
Over to you..... are you a con artist or are you a farmer?
*In reply to Ben, of course Harrington works for CropGen. He also works for Syngenta and goes round to local schools, where he gives the kids Syngenta hats as a reward for listening to his propaganda. He also works with Monsanto. Nobody plants MON810 without Monsanto's consent. So he must have a Technology Use Agreement with Monsanto.
*Forgive me for being cynical, but how is it I feel that the welfare of people on the other side of the world is not uppermost in your [ie Harrington's] mind? After all, you don't seem to be too concerned for the opinion of people living in your own land.
*so let's get this straight: the man tried to grow a crop designed for Spain in Wales, consequently got a rubbish crop/yield, had to give it away because no one wants to buy it, and has risked the ire of his neighbours for the potential damage to their markets due to contamination (if they, too, grew maize) - all paid for by the unaccountable multinational GM industry. seems like a pretty good advertisement for the "benefits" of this "valuable technology" to me.
*How does a man like this even get airtime? A corporate shill gets in the news for ignoring his neighbours and "breaking the law".
*Well done for publishing, far better that this idiot puts his head up to be shot at,
now the world knows what they are up to.
*Whilst I support GM, this man appears to be a shill for the GM industry, and on that basis I hope he gets what's coming to him.
*Go to the USA and plant your Frankenfoods. They will like you there. You can buy a gun and shoot at protesters. That should suit you.
*AlunEvans stated that a rational debate would concede that Mr Harrington has an interest in making money on his farm.
That would depend on Mr Harrington being a farmer. In fact, he is not. He is an agronomist, and a consultant. He does not make his living by farming. Several of his neighbours, however, do depend on their farms for their livelihoods. Apparently real farmers receive nothing but contempt from Harrington. He knows what's best for them!
*Mr Harrington, it's a bit rich for you to claim that you have the support of "the scientific community" in this selfish and cynical attempt to undermine the aspirations of the Welsh people and their GM Free status. Well, I'm a scientist, and you don't have my support -- and neither do you have the support of thousands of other scientists worldwide who have accumulated evidence to show that GM crops are uniquely dangerous, with MON810 more dangerous than many others.
And is GM "a new and valuable technology?" No, it is not. The GM industry has been promising us for almost 20 years that it is about to deliver us new and wonderful GM crops that will taste better, give higher yields, and bring assorted consumer benefits. And what have they delivered? A few crops that allow farmers to use less labour on the land, and a few others that are herbicide-tolerant and which bring vast profits to the biotechnology corporations that own them and the chemicals that have to be used in the cultivation process. We also see enormous damage to the environment, a spread of monocultures, and no benefits to consumers whatsoever. Big deal.
And please don't bleat about benefits to Welsh farmers, and about the Welsh Assembly stance "denying GM technology to the starving millions." Stuff and nonsense, Mr Harrington. The Welsh Assembly stance is well supported across Wales. You may not like it, but that's the way it is. Welsh farmers are in general signed up to the maintenance of a clean green image for Wales, and for the competitive advantage that will arise from marketing organic and high-quality conventional farm products. Dare I suggest that GM Free status for Wales is even supported by the majority of your neighbours, whom you have now kicked in the teeth?
And please forget about the notion that GM crops are going to help the starving millions. Have they helped in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and in other countries where poor people are battling against the corporate GM feudalism that you seem to embrace?