Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Panorama - GM bias? softly softly catch the public!?

Panorama's programme on GM plants looks like it is part of someone's recipe to start to soften up the public to be favourably disposed towards GM food on our shelves.
Typical ingredients
First add 2 guys that have switched from being anti GM and show a clip of one of them publicly declaring he was sorry for his previous view and is now a reformed thinker on this and in favour of GM
Next mix in the once leading light of Sainsburys, Justin King with his view that GM will lower the cost of food and that will sway the many 'undecided' in the population - and how timely is that, when you see a weekly shop that increases week on week, of course it's a primed public ready to reduce costs somewhere....but at what expense.
Throw in the 'feeding the world' argument and how morally wrong it is for us here in the UK to deprive the rest of the world access to food.
And stir in a great gush of hospital scenes in Bangladesh whilst referring to farmers suffering from pesticide exposure, happy farmer growing his GM aubergines and show the reporter eating a dish of aubergine and rice declaring it something we couldn't eat here...not true...we could have the GM free version!
Then for the obligatory dose of protesters being portrayed as luddites, ripping up crops and how much in financial terms that cost the company.

A balanced recipe? possible not as that should include farms where GM has failed and talking to someone on the ground who truly knows about that - why not include an Interview with Dr Vandana Shiva, a physicist and global campaigner on GM?  Why not ask her about the lives of Indian farmers that have been destroyed through growing GM crops, what has happened to the land since BT cotton etc

The life of an Indian farmer is hard enough, so growing crops that are drought resistant and naturally pest resistant is crucial....they need seed banks not GM.

Much was made about the health risks of GM food, yes instinctively eating GM doesn't sit well with many, but neither side truly knows the long term health risk. There are pictures of tumours in rats fed GM and strangely nature avoids eating GM, but even so, I'm not keen on any results of studies on animals being supposed as the outcome in humans, be it GM or medicine.
But sovereignty over food is a concern, and we have seen where corporate giants like Monsanto have sued farmers for what is nothing more than an act of nature...cross pollination from wind and insects - so where was the mention of that, a small nod in the direction of a female Bangladeshi farmer, growing a wild form of aubergine which was naturally resistant to the fruit worm that was taking out the cultivated crops....surely the answer was right there....and if you wanted to make a programme based on anti GM, she would be your farmer of choice, no need for pesticide spray, wild form of a plant that was naturally resistant, as nature would have it.

The reporter asking her if it was fair that she could grow her crops but GM couldn't be grown??  well can she sue if she finds her wild crop contaminated by GM....that would be fair.  The problem is once a genie is out of a bottle, how do you get it back in.

Organisations like the Soil Association are not Luddites, the short interview with Helen Browning, the Soil Associations Chief Exec, is far from a farming novice, her comments that were shown, focused on the short and medium term solution, but this was left in the air by the programme.

When programmes cut to hospital scenes for anything, it is nothing more than emotive, the hospital waiting area was less full than our local A & E on a slow day and no one knew if the women, children and men there were farmers suffering from pesticide exposure - I do wish programmes would not do this, we all know what a hospital look like and it's purely emotive for their cause.

As for the  'feed the world' well we have just had a series of programmes on food waste and supermarkets are the biggest offenders along with sell by dates and over buying for actual need. The western world has a food waste problem, so much so, we have a company turning it into fuel to run the supermarket!  We have always had a food distribution problem and we in the west should certainly ask ourselves why we are buying in food from countries that struggle to feed their own, but we are quite happy to have them use their precious water supplies to grow food for the western world.

If Sainsbury's et al think we need to feed the world, why then are they pushing the farmers prices here so low, it is now more profitable for farmers to have fields of solar panels as opposed to fields of potatoes etc.

Then there is food sovereignty...If you create a plant that carries a patent, that plant cannot be reproduced, if it is a sterile seed, you will need to buy it year in and year out and you are then in the hands of the seed companies for ever.

Thank goodness to those right now that have the foresight to be setting up seed banks!

So never mind the unknown health risk, that is an unknown in humans, but do we need our food chain to begin and end with a few Big Agg companies in the long run and once those seeds are out there and cross pollinate with GM resisting farmers....that genie won't fit back in the bottle and who gets to sue who for either ruining there GM free crop or so called stealing the GM technology, albeit wind assisted.