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Seeds of Doubt

Posted by on September 12th 2011

North American farmers’ experiences of GM crops: see the Soil Association report.

“Perhaps the greatest achievement of the biotechnology industry has been in creating a myth and then transforming it into a political orthodoxy. It has managed to persuade some of the world’s most powerful governments that the ‘white heat of biotechnology’ can bring benefits of higher yields, lower chemical use, food security and, critically, profitability for farmers.

Those who have signed up seem enthralled by the apparent potential of genetic engineering to improve on nature. Yet, despite growing public alarm (generally dismissed as irrational fears born of scaremongering) the accuracy of these claims has not, until now, been put under the microscope.

In undertaking this study of the actual impact of the commercialisation of GM crops in North America, the Soil Association has gathered sufficient evidence to challenge the fundamental proposition that GM technology represents progress.

The evidence we set out suggests that, in reality, virtually every benefit claimed for GM crops has not occurred. Instead, farmers are reporting lower yields, continuing dependency on herbicides and pesticides, loss of access to markets and, critically, reduced profitability leaving food production even more vulnerable to the interests of the biotechnology companies and in need of subsidies.

The report makes disturbing reading, but at a time when a decision has to be made in the national interest about the commercial introduction of GM crops, we hope it will result in a better informed public debate –and a more independent, less pressurised decision.

Patrick Holden

Director, Soil Association”