Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jimmy's GM food fight

Jimmy Doherty, pig farmer, one-time scientist and poster-boy for sustainable food production is on a mission to find out if GM crops really can feed the world.

We need to double the amount of food we produce in the next fifty years to feed the world's growing population. Are GM crops the answer? Or are they a dangerous Frankenstein technology that could start an environmental catastrophe?

To find the answers Jimmy is on a journey that will take him from the vast soya plantations of Argentina to the traditional Amish farms of Pennsylvania; and from the cutting-edge technology of the GM laboratories to the banana plantations of Uganda.

Sounds wonderful , right ? Sounds like Jimmy is taking the fight to the GM camp , had me fooled as well and so I spent an hour watching another campaign for Genetically Modified foods . Jimmy garbed like a real scientist pretends to ask questions about the validity of GM food , it's financial , environmental and ethical validity and surprise surprise , GM comes out with flying colors to each question . So vast monocultures in Argentine are definitely a good thing , the Amish are using it , so it must be a great thing and most importantly genetically modified food will be more nutritious and will save the world from hunger . Down the way he concludes that producing GM seed is just like the natural process, just speeded up and while there have been some allergies from GM food in lab experiments , it must be ok as the Americans have been eating it for ten years . What really peeved me up was his claim that by applying European standards of caution to GM food , we are effectively letting the poor Africans starve !! So my question is Jimmy , if GM food is not proven safe why do you think it is right for the Africans and the rest of the developing world eat it . Sure the Europeans need it to be tested on someone and it is ok to let the black man to be used as a guinea pig because they are going to die of starvation anyway .
And what about Monsanto , how can we talk about GM and not even mention Monsanto , the largest philanthropic organisation in the world , controlling 90% of the GM seed and on their to acquire a sizable amount non Gm seed . The GM ethics are very clearly enunciated in this article by Vandana Shiva .
An epidemic of farmers' suicides has spread across four Indian states -- Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab -- over the last decade. According to official data, more than 160,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997.

These suicides are most frequent where farmers grow cotton, and appear directly linked to the presence of seed monopolies. For the supply of cotton seeds in India has increasingly slipped out of the hands of farmers and into the hands of global seed producers like Monsanto. These giant corporations have begun to control local seed companies through buyouts, joint ventures and licensing arrangements, leading to seed monopolies.

When this happens, seed is transformed from being a common good into being the "intellectual property" of companies such as Monsanto, for which the corporation can claim limitless profits through royalty payments. For farmers, this means deeper debt.

Vandana Shiva - Harvest of suicide

You can read an elaborate dissection of the documentary here . Another link that clears the myth of high productivity and less pesticide use being claimed for GM food .

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