GM-free farmers and shoppers are the majority
Here’s an excellent letter to the editor of Farm Weekly, by Bob Phelps, director of Gene Ethics in Australia.
Farm Weekly didn’t publish it, so we are happy to redress the balance.
Letter to the editor of Farm Weekly
1 Mar 2016
GM-free farmers and shoppers are the majority, not the "anti-science minority" CropLife claims (Support farmers' rights to choose GM, Farm Weekly, 25/2/16). CropLife is the local branch of a global network of lobbyists for Genetically Manipulated crops and farm chemicals so it has no right to accuse others of playing politics.
The GM Crops Free Areas Act 2003 ensures that the West Australian parliament can decide what benefits the whole state's economy, not just sectional interests with an axe to grind. The World Health Organisation's expert IARC committee confirms Roundup weedkiller is a "probable human carcinogen" so enabling a lot more to be sprayed on Roundup tolerant food crops is an act of vandalism to the environment and public health.
The Farmers Choice lobbyists comprising Croplife, WAFF and PGA are selling GM farmers a pup. They say, "Health benefits such as reduced cholesterol and environmental tolerances to drought and salinity are some of the advantages of GM crops in development." Yet GM companies and public scientists have been trying to transfer these traits into various crops for over 20 years without any experimental or commercial success.
Simple GM techniques can only cut-and-paste traits that operate on a single gene, such as herbicide tolerance and Bt insect toxins. The more complex traits promised in Croplife's ads rely on many genes and are too complex to cut and paste.
The GM industry is declining. Last year Monsanto retrenched 2,600 GM researchers and bought the Climate Corporation for $1 billion, to shift its focus to helping farmers meet climate change with more information. Just last week BASF, also one of the big five global chemical and GM companies, reduced its GM Research & Development staff from 700 to 380. It cancelled field test sites in Hawaii, India, & Puerto Rico and kept only projects on herbicide tolerance and omega-3 fatty acids in canola.
The GM industry spruiks [advertizes] rapid global uptake of GM crops but they stalled 3 years ago at 180 million hectares in 28 countries by 18 million farmers. Six countries in North and South America still grow over 90% of all GM soy, corn, canola, cotton, and sugarbeet and over 90% of these crops can tolerate being sprayed with the weed killer Roundup.
In contrast, there are over 1.2 billion hectares of GM-free cultivated farm land, 160 GM-free countries, and over 1 billion GM-free farmers. GM is no farm revolution and we should all move on.