Prince Charles must prove his claim that GM crops could cause a global environmental disaster, Environment Minister Phil Woolas has challenged. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the minister said it is now down to the opponents of genetically modified food to prove it is unsafe. BBC
Wrong. It has yet to be proven that GM crops cause no problems. It is not known to be safe, it is not known what the longer term consequences are. If you want to change the status quo you must be able to prove your action will be – in this case – positive. Prince Charles is absolutely right.
“But government ministers have a responsibility to base policy on science and I do strongly believe that we have a moral responsibility to the developing world to ask the question: can GM crops help?”
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the first statement by the minister. The first is arrogance about the consequence to people, the second is short-sighted. In fact both are short-sighted but the second has an extremely important difference – control.
Google ‘monsanto gene’. Farmers in the developing world could not grow the crops they needed. So Monsanto beat the other agribusinesses to the goal of GM seeds. These provided plants that could grow in the prevailing conditions. The farmers were happy, Monsanto got stupidly rich. Then the farmers realised that the GM plants had what some called a ‘terminator gene’. They died after a season or two – after all it would not have been good business if they lived forever would it? So the effect is that the farmers now have to buy from Monsanto who continue to get rich on the backs of the poor. The food in that country is dependent on a private company. They set the price, they control distribution, they can vary quality of the plant and it’s yield. That is a phenomenal amount of control. (Imagine if we in the UK were dependent on bread from the French….). So were the GM seeds good? Some would say Yes from the humanitarian view but others would say No because of the deliberate and calculating decision to use that ‘terminator gene’. So what is the Minister actually saying? He’s saying that he wants a seat on the board of some company when the Labour Govt are voted back to the wilderness inside the next 2 years.
Phil Woolas doesn’t care in the slightest way for any sort of consequences – most people wielding political power do not – but if you are going to not care do it from a point of principle and not a desire to fill your bank account.
And GM? I’m totally with Prince Charles. Don’t screw with Nature at that level.