Farmers Weekly Reports
On GMOs In The UK General Election

Party Positions On GM Crops
Are You Ready For A GM 'Lobbygate'
Under The Next Parliament?

11 April 2010

It's Our Politics That Needs To Be Modified - Not Our Food

election2010.jpg (92184 bytes)

Under the last Conservative government Genetically Modified (GM) foods were allowed into Britain even without any labelling. Only intense grass roots public pressure to reign in the situation eventually changed this.

As a minimum the Conservatives are expected to gain many seats in the current election. So when it comes to GM crops under the new leadership of David Cameron are the Tories really offering 'change you can believe in'?

Or will it be just more of the same as endured under New Labour, whose policy on GM food was underpinned by the many millions of pounds donated to the party by GM crop technology investor Lord Sainsbury - who is now courting the Tories?

The Conservatives' relationship with the Food and Drink Federation lobby group may also be an important factor that comes into play in answering such questions after the election. In the meantime Farmers Weekly has provided (see below) a summary of the main political parties apparent position on GM crops.

"Speaking at a Food and Drink Federation fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Manchester on Tuesday (6 October), Mr [Peter] Kendall [President of the National Farmers Union]... said the organic sector should also be willing to consider the possible benefits of GM production as a solution to meeting the country's food demands.... Jim Paice, shadow food and farming minister, said it was 'a mistake' that views about GM production had become so polarised. 'We have to do everything we can to encourage GM technology to be developed at a scientific level to see what advantage there is to food safety, nutrition, conservation, inputs and so on,' he said.... Mr Paice believed GM technology would increasingly become part of conventional British agriculture."
Conservatives 09: Soil Association must stop scare tactics
Farmers Weekly Online, 6 October 2009

In This Bulletin
Farmers Weekly Review
Of Party Positions On GM Crops
Are You Ready For GM 'Lobbygate'
As New Labour's GM Supremo Switches To The Tories?
Who Are The Food And Drink Federation (FDF)?
And What Is Their Interest In GM Food And The Conservative Party?
Mixed GM Messages From The Tories Before The Election
But Where Will They Stand On The Issue After Polling Day?
'Let Me Tell You, None Of This Is True'
So Do We Really Need GM Crops?
The Campaign
To Ban GM Crops Globally

How 'Will We Have Credible Oversight' With So Many Conflicts Of Interest?

"Almost everything we grow, everything we eat is the root result of human intervention, human breeding and so on. But this [GM recombinant DNA] is unnatural in a different sort of way from the kinds of breeding programs that have characterized humanity for ten thousand years.... So the question which people have, I believe, not only a right but a duty to ask, is how wisely will we use these unprecedented new powers? What are the risks associated with doing something this new and this profound at the very wellsprings of life? How are they going to be managed? How will we have credible oversight? How will we have credible and effective monitoring of the introduction of this technology? Certainly, humanity's record for using technology wisely, sensitive to its potential effects on society, on people, on environment is, at best, mixed and hardly encouraging....We have not yet identified, yet alone cloned, the gene for wisdom, and some skepticism about our ability to manage powerful new technologies is appropriate.... "
Robert Shapiro,Chief Executive of Monsanto

Speech on genetic engineering presented at State of the World Forum, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA , October 27, 1998

Farmers Weekly Review
Of Party Positions On GM Crops

As the British general election gets underway Farmers Weekly has reported (see below) on the positions of the main political parties in relation to GM crops.

In England, Labour and the Conservatives have the most 'GM enthusiastic' position. The Liberals want a fresh debate on GM in the context of food security, whilst in the devolved regions the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties are unambiguously opposed to GMOs.

The Green Party, which considers that "The [GM] risks to health and the environment are simply too great", is not covered by the Farmers Weekly review. Nor is UKIP, which "is opposed to the production of GM crops in Britain, but open to scientific research, advice and consumer demand".
Will GM Crop Deliver Benefits To Farmers?

"The General Election will take place on Thursday 6 May, Gordon Brown has announced. It is expected to be the closest run election since the hung parliament of 1974. Agriculture spokesman from the three main parties in England have set out their stalls knowing that any of them could take a seat in the next Cabinet if the outcome of the vote is a hung parliament. Below Farmers Weekly has listed the policies of the three main parties - Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat - on a particular issue."
General Election set for 6 May
Farmers Weekly Online, 6 April 2010

Party Positions On GM Crops As Reported By Farmers Weekly

"Believes GM crops must be taken seriously and could make a real contribution, so long as they are shown to be safe." (Farmers Weekly)

"Supports commercial production of GM crops so long as they have been properly assessed and there are clear rules on crop separation." (Farmers Weekly)

"Says society must decide the technology is used, arguing that a fresh debate on GM is needed, especially with regard to food security." (Farmers Weekly)

"The SNP opposes the cultivation of GM crops in Scotland. We are committed to a clean and sustainable natural environment that makes any cultivation of GM crops unacceptable and undesirable." (Spokesperson)

"We are committed to keeping Wales GM free. We support adding value to Welsh produce by promoting and marketing it as high quality and environmentally friendly produce with a quality mark." (Spokesperson)

Are You Ready For GM 'Lobbygate'
As New Labour's GM Supremo Switches To The Tories?

"A senior member of David Cameron’s frontbench team was last night forced to pull out of an appearance as the guest of honour at a reception for a corporate lobbying firm at the Tory conference. .... Many of the private interests will be represented in Manchester next week where, according to one party insider, 'wealth and power is stampeding in a way not seen since the collapse of the Berlin Wall'. Such comments reflect the unease felt by some senior members of the party at the bombardment from firms seeking to influence the next [Conservative] manifesto."
Francis Maude cancels lobbying appearance at Tory conference to avoid conflict of interest
London Times, 3 October 2009

Are You Ready For 'Lobbygate'?

"David Cameron demanded yesterday that Gordon Brown investigate a boast by the former Cabinet minister Stephen Byers that he had used his influence to change policies to favour businesses. The former Transport Secretary, who was secretly filmed offering himself  'like a sort of cab for hire' for up to 5,000 a day, will be referred to the parliamentary standards watchdog today. Mr Byers told an undercover reporter that he had secured secret deals with ministers and said that he received confidential information from No 10 and was able to help firms involved in price fixing to get around the law. The claims gravely embarrassed Labour, which rushed forward a promise to introduce a compulsory register of lobbying which it said had been planned for the election manifesto.... The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats said they would table parliamentary questions about the claims in an attempt to see if there had been breaches of the ministerial code. 'I have been warning for some time that lobbying is the next scandal to hit British politics,' Mr Cameron said. 'These are shocking allegations. The House of Commons needs to conduct a thorough investigation into these ex-Labour ministers.'”
Calls for inquiry into 'MPs for hire' scandal
London Times, 22 March 2010

As Power Drains From New Labour
Lord Sainsbury - Ex-Labour Minister GM Supremo - Shamelessly Moors His Boat Alongside The Tories

"He’s the supermarket baron who has bankrolled the Labour Party for more than a decade, Tony Blair’s most loyal minister, who survived more reshuffles than almost anyone else and has donated 4.5 million under Gordon Brown. Now Lord Sainsbury of Turville is helping David Cameron to prepare for power. The Institute for Government, which he set up last month, is running training sessions for Shadow Cabinet members. His staff are acting as match-makers between senior Tories and the Civil Service. There have been breakfast briefings for Conservative frontbenchers with retired permanent secretaries, and seminars for serving mandarins on how to handle a new government. On the day we meet him at the institute’s white stuccoed house overlooking St James’s Park, 15 permanent secretaries, including Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, have just been there for a meeting, according to the visitors’ book.... It is rather extraordinary that Labour’s biggest donor is now training the Tories.... Senior Conservatives and mandarins have been attending a series of seminars on public spending cuts, organised by the institute....His only motive for giving money to Labour was, he says, public service — the reason he is also spending 15 million of his family fortune on the institute. 'My main interest in life is that the country is run better,' he says. So will he give more money to Labour before the next election? 'I’m sure that’s a question they’re interested in too,' he replies."
Lord Sainsbury turns back on Labour to help David Cameron win power
London Times, 18 July 2009

Lord Sainsbury Of Turville
Leading Champion Of GM Crops And The Largest Individual Donor To New Labour

Click Here

"Dozens of Conservative parliamentary candidates are working in the lobbying industry that seeks to influence their party’s leadership. An investigation by The Times has found that 28 prospective candidates who have a good chance of becoming Tory MPs are working as lobbyists or public relations consultants on behalf of businesses and other interests. More than a quarter got their jobs after being selected to fight seats. Several acknowledged that they had set up meetings for clients with Shadow ministers, MPs and officials. More said that they had been asked to provide advice on the party’s direction. A few admitted to having pressed clients’ cases to Tory frontbenchers. The disclosure challenges David Cameron’s promise to usher in a 'new politics'. More than a fifth of his 150 candidates most likely to win seats for the first time will have done public affairs work, although a handful have since left the industry. By contrast, only seven Labour and three Liberal Democrat prospective candidates with realistic hopes of victory have jobs in public affairs or communications. The influence of paid consultants was thrown into sharp relief this year when President Obama announced that he would block the revolving door through which lobbyists moved in and out of US administrations. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have issued any such edict....Last night the party declined to comment on the disclosure that so many candidates were working in the industry or the evidence that lobbying firms were keen to build bridges with a party on the cusp of power. Senior Conservative sources have told The Times of their unease over how former party advisers have moved into lobbying before the election. Several firms now advertise their Tory credentials; others have been hired to change policies on gambling and home improvement packs."
Hired guns take aim at target Tory seats
London Times, 25 September 2009

Who Are The Food And Drink Federation (FDF)?
And What Is Their Interest In GM Food And The Conservative Party?

"The food-and-drink industry employs 500,000 people and has a turnover of 65 billion. Its exports alone are worth 9 billion, and its largest companies are big donors to both main political parties. The industry has never been shy of wielding its power. In 1983, the groundbreaking National Advisory Committee on Nutrition Education report, which marked a long-overdue change in public-health advice from an emphasis on food deficiencies to an acknowledgement of the problem of overeating, had to be rewritten 13 times to mollify industry lobbyists. In 1994, a Department of Health report on nutritional aspects of cardiovascular disease raised the industry's ire because it suggested an 'illustrative healthy diet' in which the average consumer might halve soft-drink and biscuit consumption to eat more healthily. A delegation of industry executives was reported to have met ministers and civil servants to ask for a change because of the danger to their business. When that was unsuccessful, they were reported to have asked civil servants to leave the room and to have threatened to withdraw Tory Party donations (some later did)."
Healthy diet? Eat your words
Times Higher Education, 15 March 2002

Gambling With Fundamentals - The Banking Crisis Version II

Given what it managed to do with trans fats, once the junk food processing industry is fully armed with genetically modified biological derivatives, it should be capable before too long of doing to the world's food supply what the bankers managed to do to the world's money supply when armed with financial derivatives.

Likewise, it will most likely be the public and taxpayers who pay the cost when things go wrong, not those who introduced the new risk into the system - who will merely claim that they were using the 'best science available' at the time when their products' safety was 'assessed'.

And all this is to say nothing of the sector's emerging additional enthusiasm for the use of nanotechnology (involving minute man-made substances) in the food chain.

For More On The Largely Hidden Trans Fats Foods Disaster That Took Millions Of Lives
Click Here

"The next Government must support the UK’s food and drink sector as a strategic priority in its own right, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which today published a checklist of 20 ways to safeguard the future success of the country’s biggest manufacturing industry. The checklist sets out the measures that FDF believes the next Government could adopt to maintain the competitiveness of the food and drink sector. The measures are set out in simple steps across five themes: create a vision for food; back us in going green; cut the red tape; support manufacturers; and protect innovation (2). Speaking at a fringe event organised by FDF with the National Farmers’ Union and the British Retail Consortium at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester (3), FDF Director General Melanie Leech will say: 'Our checklist sets out the ways in which we think the next Government should support an economically important, high value manufacturing sector. All our ideas are easy to implement and should be cost neutral for taxpayers. But we believe they will help to safeguard the future success of the UK’s biggest manufacturing industry – a sector that has an excellent track record of generating wealth for the nation, providing employment opportunities nationally and responding responsibly to societal concerns about diet, health and the environment.'”
UK's Biggest Manufacturing Industry Should Be Given Strategic Priority says Food and Drink Federation (FDF)
eGov monitor, 6 October 2009

fdfmanifesto.jpg (50151 bytes)

And What's Buried At The Bottom Of The FDF Manifesto Checklist?

"Show leadership in the debates about the use of new technologies such as GM and nanotechnology."
Point No 20 in 20 point manifesto by the British Food And Drink Federation (FDF)
Launched At The Conservative Party Conference, October 2009

And What Exactly Does FDF Mean By That?

"FDF believes that modern biotechnology such as genetic modification offers enormous potential to improve the quality and quantity of food supplies around the world....the time has come when serious consideration should be given to reopening a free and unbiased public debate about GM."
Genetic Modification (GM) and Biotechnology
Food and Drink Federation, 18 May 2008

FDF Has Been Keen On GM Foods For Years

"A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted genetically modified food is safe despite the growing public outcry....The Food and Drink Federation, which represents the food manufacturing industry, welcomed Mr Blair's statement."
Food fears 'frustrate' Blair
BBC Online, 15 October 1999

The Food and Drink Federation
A Corporate Profile
By Corporate Watch UK
Completed November 2002

The FDF is a corporate-controlled lobby group which promotes corporate interests in three ways:

1. Producing biased information for the public domain
2. Lobbying government for corporate-friendly legislation and regulation
3. Placing industry people on relevant government panels to ensure that industry itself decides how or if it should be regulated.

There is ample evidence for all three of these processes. A more subtle current running through the promotion of corporate interests, is the placing of industry representatives on research funding councils and in supposedly independent research institutions.

To Read The Rest Of The Corporate Watch UK  Profile On FDF
Click Here

Mixed GM Messages From The Tories Before The Election
But Where Will They Stand On The Issue After Polling Day?

"Speaking at a Food and Drink Federation fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Manchester on Tuesday (6 October), Mr [Peter] Kendall [President of the National Farmers Union]... said the organic sector should also be willing to consider the possible benefits of GM production as a solution to meeting the country's food demands....Jim Paice, shadow food and farming minister, said it was 'a mistake' that views about GM production had become so polarised. 'We have to do everything we can to encourage GM technology to be developed at a scientific level to see what advantage there is to food safety, nutrition, conservation, inputs and so on,' he said.... Mr Paice believed GM technology would increasingly become part of conventional British agriculture."
Conservatives 09: Soil Association must stop scare tactics
Farmers Weekly Online, 6 October 2009

"The Conservative Party, which is tipped to win power in the UK next year, would stop short of embracing genetically modified crops despite farm productivity, its top agriculture spokesman has said. Nick Herbert, the favourite to become UK farm secretary should the Conservatives win next year's elections, said that raising crop yields is the best way to secure supplies ahead as the world approaches a 'perfect storm' of population growth, climate change and pressures on arable land. However, while highlighting the importance of improved equipment, seeds and fertilizer, he stopped short of endorsing a push in genetically modified technologies which hold potential for huge yields increases. 'Science has to take a lead' in establishing the virtues of the technology, Mr Herbert, shadow agriculture secretary, told a City dinner. The technology is hugely controversial in Europe over concerns for its broader environmental impact. Indeed, there was little point in farmers growing it until consumers are prepared to buy it, he added, while making a comparison with nuclear power, which has gone from pariah status to widespread acceptance.' The speech indicated that the political climate for seed companies would change little even if the Conservatives succeeded in ousting Labour, said Icap, the broker which organised the event. 'It would appear that the Conservatives are adopting a similar policy stance to that of the current Labour government on GM,' the broker said. This meant 'encouraging trials and research and development but stopping short in lobbying for widespread EU GM adoption'.  Current UK agriculture secretary Hilary Benn came suggested in August that GM could have a role in raising UK farming, but also failed to endorse it."
Tories would stop short of embracing GM foods, 7 December 2009

"Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference today, Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Defra, launched Labour's futuristic Food 2030 document, which has a strong emphasis on health and public awareness, including making more land available for people to grow their own food, and establishing a ‘Healthier Food Mark', plus reducing greenhouse gas emissions through anaerobic digestion and improving recycling. ‘It's a big challenge, but also a big opportunity for farming,' he said. ‘We need to do three things: produce more food; do it sustainably, and make sure that the food we eat safeguards our health.' His opposite number, Nick Herbert, hit back with the Conservatives' plan for a supermarket ombudsman to enforce accurate food labelling..Both minister and shadow minister stressed the future importance of science and technology - Mr Herbert rejected calls for a reduction in livestock and said that farming must be led by science and that there should be a radical debate on new technology, including GM..."
Future of farming debate at Oxford conference
Country Life, 5 January 2010

"Conventional farmers will have to look to the skills of the organic movement if the industry is going to meet targets to produce more while cutting emissions. Speaking at the Soil Association conference in Birmingham on Wednesday (3 February), DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn said the organic sector had learned a lot from science about how to improve yields while cutting inputs.... Shadow farm minister Jim Paice said both sectors also had to maximise their use of science - which did not automatically mean looking to GM technology - to learn about how to produce more while impacting less."
Lesson to be learned from organic farmers
Farmers Weekly Online, 3 February 2010

'Let Me Tell You, None Of This Is True'
So Do We Really Need GM Crops?

Scrutinising The Farming Claims
Of The Ag-Biotech Industry

Will GM Crops Deliver Benefits To Farmers?
How Compromised Science Misleads
The Agricultural Sector

'Let Me Tell You None Of This Is True'
Brief Overview Of Extravagant GM Crop Claims
'Advocacy Science' And GM Crop Performance
Promises, Reality, and Conflicts of Interest

Cutting The Hype About GM Crops
Not Even The Industry's Top Scientific Journal Believes The Exaggerated Claims
GM Crops And 'Economising With The Agronomic Truth'
How Commercial Interests Manipulate The Science And Public Perception
The Biotech Industry Is Leading A Huge 'Consolidation' In World Seed Supplies
Is This Really In The Best Interest Of Farmers?

Special Internet Resource
Monitoring GM Crop Performance Since 1996

'Trust Us'

"[Monsanto CEO Bob] Shapiro has this messianic sense about him. If he said it once, he said it three or four times:
Put us together and we'll rule the world. We're going to own the industry. Almost those exact words. We can be a juggernaut. Invincible."
Tom Urban, Former CEO of leading seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred on Bob Shapiro's business strategy for Monsanto
Lords of the Harvest
Charles, D. (2001), Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus

The Campaign
To Ban GM Crops Globally

"Bulgaria's parliament voted on Thursday to tighten a law that effectively banned cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops for scientific and commercial reasons in response to public fears. The ruling centre-right GERB party decided to drop a planned moratorium on GMO production because the new law would keep the European Union member GMO-free, deputies said. 'There will be no field on the country's territory where GMOs can be cultivated,' Kostadin Yazov of GERB's parliamentary group, said. Non-government organisations, farmers and citizens have rallied for over two months against the government's initial plans to replace a ban with a licensing regime, which they feared would flood the Balkan country with GMO crops. The new law bans GMO cultivation in nature protected areas and large buffer zones around those areas and fields with organic crops which effectively means scientific experiments and commercial cultivation will be impossible in the Balkan country. The amendments also forbid growing crops approved by the European Commission such as the genetically modified potato, Amflora, developed by German chemical maker BASF, and three genetically modified maize types, made by U.S. biotech firm Monsanto. Under the law, fines for perpetrators were raised to up to one million levs ($698,300). Protesters said they were happy with the new law."
Bulgaria approves law to ban GMO crops
Reuters, 18 March 2010

The Campaign To Ban GM Crops In Europe
Under a new rule a request from one million citizens constitutes an official request to the European Commission. The
Avaaz petition to ban GM crops in Europe pending proper research is already well on the way, having collected hundreds of thousands of signatures. Sign up now and ask all your colleagues, friends and relations to do the same.
Click Here To Sign Petition

What You Need To Know About GM Crops And Food
Visit The Campaign To Ban GM Food Globally

There Is No Need To Feel Powerless
The Skelmersdale 'Small Acorns' GM Story Of 1996
Shows How Global Effects Can Emerge From Local Actions

Click Here

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