1st August 2012
Long-suffering citizens of the European Union (EU) could be forgiven for asking what they have to do to make the genetically modified (GM) nightmare go away. Like the great white shark immortalised in Jaws and its sequels, GM is about to be back on the agenda in a big way, just when most Europeans probably thought it was safe to venture once more into the murky waters of supermarket shopping. Like the death-proof monsters of Nightmare On Elm Street or Halloween, GM organisms (GMOs) simply keep resurrecting themselves and coming back for one more try, no matter how many times EU citizens say ‘no’.
The latest attempt to convince us all of GM’s inherent safety and necessity comes to us courtesy of the European Commission (EC), which appears to have found the ideal person to lead a new pro-GM charge, this time under the tattered banner of ‘evidence-based policy’. GM is safe, they say, and anyone who objects is guilty of ignoring the science and appealing to the emotions: in other words, they’re ignorant Luddites who don’t know what’s good for them. GMOs will save the world, we’re told, they’re cheap and they’re made using processes that are a simple extension of natural plant breeding techniques.
Listening to the pronouncements of the pro-GM camp, it’s tempting to wonder whether they genuinely believe what they’re saying. In an age of deserved cynicism directed toward politicians, it’s easy to believe that they’re saying, at any one time, whatever they need to say in order to stay in their jobs, pursue a particular agenda or appease a vested interest that helped them into power – among other motivations. In short, a politician’s word isn’t worth much these days. But we tend to expect more of our scientists – and it’s bitterly disappointing when the most powerful scientist in the EU blithely overlooks mountains of contrary evidence when she says, “I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food”.
We can only speculate as to why this might be. Has she spent too long at the sharp end of a microscope, so engrossed in the minutiae of scientific discovery that she can no longer see the wood for the trees? Is it possible that she thinks that our current top-down model of economic control by corporations hasn’t gone far enough, and that we should hand over full control of our food to companies like Monsanto, BASF and Dow? Does she owe someone a favour? Or has she simply been promoted beyond her ability, to act as a scientific fig-leaf for the power games of those who pull the strings?
All we know is that it would be utter madness for GMOs to be given the widespread green light that the EC seems to want so desperately. In this week’s linked articles, we bring you the story of the latest assault on our plates and the will of the European people, along with a graphic showing just how far removed from conventional plant breeding GM techniques really are. Please share far and wide – we believe that this is the beginning of a huge struggle, and we need to get ahead in the information stakes!
It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that the UK is currently hosting the Olympic Games. As always with events of this sort, our admiration at the achievements of the elite athletes taking part in the Games is mixed with curiosity over the training regimens they have to employ in order to succeed – along with a bit of a shudder at the sheer discipline required to get to that level! In our third story this week, we’ve asked our executive and scientific director Rob Verkerk PhD to do his best to provide something of a window into the world of endurance sports, offering the training tips that he used when he performed his own Olympian feat earlier this year!
Please delve deeply into our stories below – and please forward and share them widely. Education to correct disinformation and widespread promotion of the side of the story you don’t hear from governments and industry are among the most important ways you can make a difference.
In health, naturally
Scientific and communications officer, ANH-Intl
Chief Scientific Advisor says GMOs pose “no more risk” than conventional foods
ANH releases graphic to help shine spotlight on misinformation
ANH’s Rob Verkerk is asked by his team to divulge his training program
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