Food Freedom

Shhhh…Farmers Love Frankenfoods

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yuck

British farmers are ready to throw in the organic cotton towel and start growing biotech crops just like their American cousins, finds a new study from Open University:

Farmers claim that using GM crops will help them cut down on herbicides and pesticides while increasing the amount of food that can be harvested….

Prof Andy Lane, who led the series of interviews and workshops with 50 farmers and members of farming organisations, said: "New technology such as GM is attractive to farmers. They want to produce high-quality food profitably and they want to farm in an environmentally sensitive way. GM may allow them to reconcile this conundrum."

Certain environmental radicals (and many eaters) aren't quite ready for the transition, however, and they're not keeping their displeasure to themselves: A week ago, the British government confirmed that it would consider allowing shielded locations for growing GM crops, to stem the tide of vandalism. "Under existing laws, full details of every GM crop trial must be disclosed in advance on a government website, with a six-figure grid reference identifying the precise location of the field." The proposal would restrict access to the register of GM sites, or perhaps require less specificity in reporting.

"These trials are legal, so why give carte blanche to anyone who wants to destroy them? In most countries, there is nothing like the sort of specific information that has to be given in Britain," said Julian Little of the industry group, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council. The need to give the location of a GM crop is contained in a European directive, but it is interpreted differently across member states.

More on the GM fight here and here.

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  1. Isn’t good old-fashioned selective breeding of plants a low-tech form of genetic engineering that’s already been going on for thousands of years? Even before genetic engineering, the fruits, vegetables, and grains available in the supermarket were about as distant from their wild cousins as a French poodle is from its wild ancestors. Isn’t that right?

  2. “These trials are legal, so why give carte blanche to anyone who wants to destroy them? In most countries, there is nothing like the sort of specific information that has to be given in Britain,”

    Is the speaker indicating that “environmental activists” would ignore the law and destroy others property because a governmental decision didn’t go their way? This shocking accusation that groups like Greenpeace condone illegal activities, should be met in court with accusations of slander.

    That is, unless they have actually behaved like that in the past.

  3. the fruits, vegetables, and grains available in the supermarket were about as distant from their wild cousins as a French poodle is from its wild ancestors. Isn’t that right?

    Don’t go trying to confuse the issue with facts. We don’t need no stinking facts.

  4. First the pesticides were going to destroy the world, now the GM crops (that reduce the need for pesticides) are going to destroy the world…we just need to accept that some folks won’t be happy until we get nekked and climb back into the trees.

    Where we’ll be vegetarians, even though we weren’t vegetarians back when we truly lived “naturally” and routinely died at 30 with half our teeth missing.

  5. SRT-8312-934
    TO: TEAM AND SECTION LEADERS
    FROM: MHQ-2
    SUBJECT: DAILY BULLETION

    “Hands Off GM Foods!” GROUP HAS REACHED TN2, READY FOR LAUNCH. USEFUL IDIOTS HAVE BEEN RECRUITED. MEDIA SET, MEDIA PIECES READY. ALL MUST BE READY TO DEFLECT TALK OF “BOND” IN CASE GM FOODS HAVE SIDE-EFFECTS DECADES FROM NOW. STRESS SAFETY. THROW ALL AT OPPONENTS: LUDDITES, AND MORE. TEAM LEADERS KNOW WHAT MUST BE DONE. MUST DEFLECT ANY SUCH TALK. FORWARD, TO GLOBAL LIBERTARIANISM!

  6. You know how they modified food for the green revolution?

    They nuked seeds with radiation and planted em. The ones with beneficial mutations got put into production. Of course, you might have to try 10000 times to get a good mutation. Maybe its just me, but that seems a lot scarier than a scientist putting in specific genes.

    Nobody seemed to mind that back then…

  7. The counter arguments based on property rights include issues about the property rights of the owners of non-GM crops not to have their crops contaminated – as soon as they are known to be GM, their value would drop considerably in the UK market, where it is the consumer, not the farmer, which is keeping these crops from being commercially viable.

    I can think of any number of groups and individuals in the UK who would rip these crops up. It would not need Greenpeace to organize such actions, though I suppose for publicity and fundraising purposes they may feel the need not to be left behind by what would be quite a popular cause.

  8. The difference between gm crops non-gm crops can’t be detected. If I were a British farmer and I stood to have a greater yield, and make more money by using gm crops, what’s to stop me from just planting them and calling them regular crops. It’s not like they can test my plants, right?

  9. Toxic | February 27, 2008, 3:30pm | #
    You know how they modified food for the green revolution?

    They nuked seeds with radiation and planted em. The ones with beneficial mutations got put into production. Of course, you might have to try 10000 times to get a good mutation. Maybe its just me, but that seems a lot scarier than a scientist putting in specific genes.

    Nobody seemed to mind that back then…

    Sounds like the same way ‘God’ (if you believe in same) or evolution (if you don’t) modified stuff.

    Nobody seemed to mind back then… oh, yeah, and nobody thought it was scary either.

  10. WHY IS THIS POST NOT WRITTEN BY RON BAILEY, AND WHY IS THERE NO EXTENSIVE DISCLOSURE.

    I AM EXTREMELY DISPLEASED.

    I SUSPECT RON BAILEY PUTS ON A DRESS SOME DAYS AND CALLS HIMSELF “KATHERINE”.

    NOT THAT THERES ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT

  11. It’s not like they can test my plants, right?

    Pinette… yes they can test your plants. How do you think they “bust” farmers for growing special “copyrighted” crops?

  12. Actually, the property rights issue is a big one. Some small farmers specialize in various heirloom varieties of food. Also, Monsanto has filed and won lawsuits in cases where their “Roundup-ready” seed blew onto neighboring farmers fields, who were then accused of illegally growing the useless suicide-gene containing crop they didn’t want in the first place.

  13. Pinette, where are you going to buy your seed from? Unless of course Monsanto are now in the smuggling business. You might also find that without the right paperwork, there is no fat subsidy for the crop.

    If the plants have been genetically modified, I would have thought that a test would demonstrate that fact quite easily, wouldn’t it?

  14. I SUSPECT RON BAILEY PUTS ON A DRESS SOME DAYS AND CALLS HIMSELF “KATHERINE”.

    Have Ron and Katherine ever been seen in the same room together? Hmm…

    Of course, that leaves out the issue that Ron is somewhat larger than KMW, IIRC. It’s all perspective and clever staging, I bet.

  15. my brother lives in Iowa and cites little signs containing patent numbers all along the edges of corn fields as a sign of the dystopian future.

  16. Some small farmers specialize in various heirloom varieties of food.

    And their heirloom varieties are at equal risk of contamination by neighboring fields regardless of GM. Why should they be able to recover for GM contamination and not for ordinary “hybrid” contamination?

    Also, Monsanto has filed and won lawsuits in cases where their “Roundup-ready” seed blew onto neighboring farmers fields,

    Is there a GM thread where this myth doesn’t come up? This must be the Canada case, where the guy’s crop was 90+% Monsanto, and there is no way you can get that without planting it yourself.

    And a Monsanto crop isn’t “useless”; it harvests just like any other.

  17. um I was wrong. I was under the impression that they couldn’t test for it.
    ignore my previous comment.

  18. And their heirloom varieties are at equal risk of contamination by neighboring fields regardless of GM. Why should they be able to recover for GM contamination and not for ordinary “hybrid” contamination?

    The supreme luddite has determined that you, RC Dean, have been using facts and logic in a discussion about biotechnology. The spremem luddite hereby decrees that all environmentalist woory warts cover their ears and chant “I can’t hear you”.

  19. The lead-in is unclear; I assume it’s conventional farmers looking forward to GM crops, not organic farmers. Since conventional farming is already an industrialized process, it might be a net gain for the environment to use GM crops and less pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, etc.

    On the other hand, there are lots of ways that this could turn out to be a bad deal for the farmers involved. If anybody has links to any reputable economic analysis of the issue, I’d love to see them.

  20. If anybody has links to any reputable economic analysis of the issue, I’d love to see them.

    I don’t, but the farmers probably do. Their livelihoods depend on it, after all!

  21. So the British are treating genetically modified crops like we treat sex offenders. Let’s not wear ourselves out patting our own backs.

  22. On the other hand, there are lots of ways that this could turn out to be a bad deal for the farmers involved.

    Which is their business, not ours.

    In all seriousness, what externalities does raising a GM crop involve that are not present in raising a hybrid crop by via “industrial” methods.

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