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GM or not to GM

Tonight I was watching a regular program on one of our national tv channels, the program Ear To The Ground focuses on rural and agricultural issues and tonight the featured discussion was on genetically modified food crops.

Sadly I didn’t find it a balanced piece, i thought that it was slanted in favour of GM, not in any obvious way rather ina very subtle way. There was so much which was not said, things which I would think would be really obvious and basic information in such a discussion.

Irish Seed Savers in Scarriff, Co Clare were interviewed as part of the program, they had the opportunity to talk about what they do and why it is so important. Part of the interview was about GM and I am truly amazed that there was no comment aired about the fact that Monsanto, probably the worlds largest and most powerful GM company, have been buying up seed companies, including seed companies that sell organic and heritage seed. This means that the GM company which has been busy patenting plant seed; producing plants which give infertile seed and thus forcing farmers to buy the seed each year from Monsanto rather than collecting seed from their own plants; this same company now owns many of the worlds seed companies. I find this really really frightening! I find it particularly strange that when Seed Savers were interviewed this fact did not get aired.

The only highly emotional language in the program was from a woman who works for Irish grain and animal foodstuffs importers. She became quite excited and claimed that the anti-gm lobby was responsible for Irish farmers having to pay more for their grain than they should. This is strange – seeing as how over 90% of the grain is already gm and therefore cheaper than non-gm grain, she didn’t actually make much sense with that comment.

There was a scientist interviewed who needs to update his information. He claimed that gm crops would reduce the amounts of pesticides used in agriculture – back in February last year a report was published which denies this – GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GM) CROPS INCREASE PESTICIDE USE AND FAIL TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY, REVEALS NEW REPORT. You can read the full report by clicking here.

I did agree with him that we need full and open debate on this matter, it is too important to be ignored. Before this program aired how many people in Ireland even knew  that the majority of animal fodder is from gm crop?  It seems that this has been the case in Ireland for many years now and we really do not know whether eating meat from animals raised eating gm foods is a healthy practise.

The program ended with a piece about growing potatoes, it focused on blight and how often potato farmers have to spray the crop to prevent blight, also about new forms of blight which are resistant to the sprays. It  then went on to interview scientists working for Teagasc, a government body which is resposible for agricultural research & development and discussed the efforts to develop a gm potato which they hope would be blight resistant. I think that it is sad that this was the last word.

Here are a few websites which might interest you

Irish Doctors Environmental Association have some disturbing news – Foods containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients are on sale in Irish shops. In a survey of soya based foods undertaken by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland in 2002, over a half of the products tested contained genetically modified ingredients. Such products included baby foods and soya desserts.

Irish Organic Traders eMagazine

Irish Anti-GM group – GM Free Ireland seems to have lost it’s website which used to be gmfreeireland.org

Welsh Anti-GM group

It is easy to find many interesting articles on growing gm crops, here are a few –

Monsanto Tried to Block Austrian Government Funded Research Showing GE Corn Causes Infertility

Bee Learning Behavior Affected by Eating Toxin from GE Corn

Study Finds GM Corn Disturbs Immune System of Mice

D.C. Circuit Court says “No” to Scotts and Monsanto on Biotech Grasses

If you are interested in reading these articles you may also enjoy having a look at the archived articles on the Organic Consumers email newsletter by clicking here.

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