Did you see the BBC’s Panorama on monday, promoting the GM (genetic modification) industry? Here are four reasons their message is just pure propaganda on behalf of the corporate sector.
1. There is no food shortage
The most important thing to understand is that we don’t need GM crops to feed the world. This was a false assumption that ran through the entire programme. The plan is to make us believe that there is a food shortage that can only be met by corporate technology.
But firstly, there is no food shortage. Every continent is producing more than enough food. See here. Plus in the West, obesity is a growing problem and around one third of all food produced is wasted.
And secondly, their message is that small-scale, organic agriculture is not able to feed the world – but that message is wrong. See here and here; and here is a UN report showing that small-scale, organic agriculture is a far better bet for feeding everyone without damaging the environment and without giving control of our food supply to corporations. But in the programme, the tactic was to portray anyone pointing this out as ‘anti-science’.
If some people are going hungry, it’s not because of a food shortage, it’s because they’re poor – and that’s because our economic system concentrates wealth.
2. GM companies exist to maximise profits, not to ‘feed the world’
The ex-environmentalists interviewed in the programme, like Mark Lynas and Stephen Tindale have not been shy when it comes to writing of their support of corporate capitalism (in a ‘there is no alternative’ sort of way); and of course it’s not difficult to work out the philosophy of scientists working in the Sainsbury laboratory (yes, that’s Sainsbury as in the supermarket). Their pro-corporate opinions were never challenged by a fawning Tom Heap – he saved his put-downs for anyone trying to keep our food supply out of the hands of the corporate sector.
The entire GM industry was portrayed as some sort of charity. Monsanto is a multinational corporation that exists to maximise returns to shareholders, not to ‘feed the world’ or to help small farmers. To believe such nonsense is naivety or duplicity. With Heap I think it’s the former, and with Lynas the latter. The way that Monsanto and the other three biotech giants are trying to maximise shareholder returns is to control more and more of the world’s food supply.
3. GM crops do not reduce herbicide use
The programme gave the impression that GM crops reduce the need for herbicides, when the opposite is true. Most GM crops are being developed to withstand huge applications of Roundup – Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide (really nasty stuff, that the World Health Organisation is labelling probably carcinogenic).
So, increasing the use of GM crops will drive sales of Roundup – which of course, is exactly what Monsanto wants to happen.
Even Forbes magazine (hardly an anti-corporate organ) points out that GM crops mean more herbicide, not less.
4. GM crops put more of our food supply under corporate control
There is something else underlying all this – something that I can’t expect Tom Heap to understand, because I’m sure he wasn’t taught it in his private school or during his time at Sky TV. But Lynas understands it all too well. We live in an empire – a corporate empire, that destroys democracy and blocks and ridicules attempts to halt its takeover of all of our essentials of life – housing, food, energy, banking, transport, employment, land etc. If we want a sustainable and democratic world, we must stop it.
The costs of developing GM crops are so huge that only multinational corporations are capable of it. The technology is not ‘convivial‘, as Ivan Illich would have said – and by that he meant technology that can be used at the small-scale by individuals and communities. Just like nuclear power or nanotechnology, it is a technology that is centralised and controlled by the corporate sector for its own benefit.
Tom Heap I think is probably a useful idiot for the GM industry, but Lynas knows all this. The word ‘ideological’ was used several times in the programme as a way of insulting anti-GM campaigners, and yet Lynas’s position is entirely based on ideology. His ideology is pro-corporate and pro-(eternal)-growth, and as such he has to be opposed by those concerned with democracy and sustainability. Luckily, he is. Lynas can’t be considered an ‘environmentalist’ – in a more honest programme, he would have been described as a corporate campaigner rather than an environmentalist.
We live in a corporate empire, and Mark Lynas has chosen his side. Lynas and Stephen Tindale (ex-Greenpeace, also featured in the programme) have written openly of their support for coporate capitalism. They’ve chosen the corporate empire and I’m sure they’ll be rewarded well.
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