Tag Archives: GM education

‘Mandatory labels for GM foods are a bad idea’

30 Sep

As public pressure for labelling America’s GM foods increases, pro-industry propaganda is going full swing with considerable assistance from the Scientific American’s un-named editors: ‘Mandatory labels for genetically modified foods are a bad idea’.

ferris jabrJournalist Ferris Jabr cites this article, explaining that people who oppose GMOs in California, Maine, Connecticut and other states have demanded mandatory labels on foods containing ingredients from genetically engineered crops because, they say, they want to know what they are eating. He declares that such labels will not help people understand the advantages and risks of GMOs or help them make smarter dietary choices or even explain what a GMO is.

The point is that many want the labelling so as to avoid the products, not to learn from text on the labels.

The latest example favouring the GM industry comes from the pen of Ferris Jabr who is ‘focusing on neuroscience and psychology’.and has an MA in science, health and environmental reporting and a BSc in psychology and English literature.

He reviews Jeremy Seifert’s new documentary film “GMO OMG” which starts showing on September 13th, authoritatively endorsing the advantages of genetically modified crops despite having no relevant qualifications.

A ‘hatchet job’ on Seifert

  • a series of maudlin pastoral scenes
  • using his children like marionettes for ludicrous theatrics
  • his naivete is a charade – not a genuine search for knowledge by for affirmation of preconceived concerns.
  • he is content to parrot numerous misconceptions spread by people who fiercely oppose genetic modification.
  • he acts as though all of Big Ag is unwilling to interact with journalists because Monsanto denies his feeble and unprofessional requests for an interview and turns him away when he drops by unannounced.
  • His conclusion that the “science is still out” on genetically modified organisms is completely misleading.

Mitigating comments

 As the (un-named) editors wrote in the September issue of Scientific American: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tested all the GMOs on the market to determine whether they are toxic or allergenic. They are not.”

He admits there are legitimate concerns about how GM crops inadvertently imbalance insect ecosystems and accelerate weeds’ resistance to herbicides.

Recent studies indicate that in a few rare cases they may inadvertently kill butterflies, ladybugs and other harmless or helpful insects, although so far there is no solid evidence that they poison bees.

Even more concerning, agricultural pests can, will and have become resistant to Bt crops, just as they inevitably develop immunity to any form of pest control.

If biotech companies prematurely release new Bt varieties without proper testing or farmers do not take adequate precautions when growing them, Bt crops ultimately fail and, ironically, encourage the use of chemical pesticides they were meant to replace.

Jabr’s conclusion

Honestly, if you really want to understand GMOs, I think it’s best to stay away from Seifert’s new documentary altogether. There are many books and articles on the subject much more deserving of your time and attention.

STOP PRESS: GM Education (produced by Lawrence Woodward and Megan Noble) tell us that recently Monsanto donated $4.6 million to the campaign for a ‘No’ vote, followed closely by DuPont Pioneer; which stumped up another $3.2 million


http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3575226/ – Jeremy Seifert

GE methods outclassed – and US GMO Independence Day

1 Jul

gm education

US genetically engineered agriculture is outclassed by Europe’s non-GM approach

The argument that the UK and the EU need GMO technology to increase production and improve its agriculture is flawed according to a new report. GM farming in the US is falling behind the UK and EU’s non-GM methods.

University of Canterbury (UC) researchers have found that the GM strategy used in North American staple crop production is limiting yields and increasing pesticide use compared to non-GM farming in Western Europe.

The team led by Professor Jack Heinemann analysed data on agricultural productivity in North America and Western Europe over the last 50 years.

Read on: http://www.gmeducation.org/farming/p213368-us-genetically-engineered-agriculture-is-outclassed-by-europe-s-non-gm-approach.html

The citizen action group “Moms Across America” march for GMO Independence Day

On the 4th of July, in over 169 events, millions of American Mothers and fathers, sons, daughters, grandchildren and probably family pets will be marching to demand labelling on GM foods. From Alaska to Hawaii to Florida and Maine the US 4th of July celebrations look like being overwhelmed by families marching to demand that the US government labels GM food.

Read on: http://www.gmeducation.org/latest-news/p213375–moms-across-americamarch-for-gmo-independence-day.html

Canadian farmers and consumers: nationwide protests against GM alfalfa, following GM canola and flax contamination

5 May

day action gm alfalfa toronto

Consumers supported farmers in a day of action to stop the introduction of GM alfalfa into Canada. On April 9th 38 protest rallies were held in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Demonstrations were held outside the constituency offices of federal MPs and the variety registration office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa.

NFU-Ontario president John Sutherland told Farms.com that there are a number of concerns about the release of genetically modified alfalfa, including:

  • The risk of contamination of non-genetically-modified alfalfa crops and seed stocks.
  • Increased seed and herbicide costs.
  • Spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds.

The news was not heard on British radio, and did not appear on the websites of the BBC and Financial Times – the writer was alerted by an emessage from GM Education.

GM Education2 header

But in a media release, the Grain Growers of Canada and its more than 50,000 farmer members said they support genetically modified crops: “We support Canada’s robust science-based regulatory environment which ensures any new crops or traits are proven safe for human consumption, animal feed and our environment. While we appreciate that many long-time opponents of progress have concerns, the reality is they have a lot of rhetoric, but no facts to back up their case.”

According to the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, genetically modified alfalfa should present “few issues” to conventional livestock producers growing alfalfa for their own use.

To coincide with the demonstrations, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) released a new report detailing how GM alfalfa released in eastern Canada will contaminate non-GM alfalfa and hay crops in Ontario.

cban contamination report coverThe report describes how seeds, pollen, and volunteer plants from GM alfalfa will pollute non-GM alfalfa. If released, GM alfalfa would be the first GM perennial crop introduced in Canada.

“We can clearly see how farmers will pay the heavy costs of this inevitable contamination,” said Ontario organic sheep and vegetable farmer Ann Slater, a member of the National Farmers Union. “The only way to stop contamination from GM alfalfa is to keep it off the market.”

Alfalfa is an important crop for dairy farming in Ontario as well as for livestock farmers and vegetable and field crop producers. Some Ontario farmers also save alfalfa seed.

“This report puts an end to discussions about coexistence with GM alfalfa,” said Ontario farmer Phillip Woodhouse, who was at a meeting of the Canadian Seed Trade Association where the industry tried to build a plan to plant GM alfalfa alongside conventional crops, “Forage Genetics International appears willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of Ontario farmers to get their product on the market somewhere in Canada. No farmer can shield themselves from this genetic pollution.”

GM Education cited two earlier instances: 

The 2008 Triffid crisis

In 2009, GM flax contamination in Canada caused a crisis when exports to Europe – which has never approved GM flax – were stopped. The contamination dated back to 1998 when a Canadian GM flax variety called CDC Triffid was first registered. Canadian farmers feared their European exports would be hit, and persuaded the authorities to deregister the GM variety. But GM flax had already found its way into the food chain, and in 2009 CDC Triffid was found in exports to 35 countries which had never approved GM flax and led to significant damage to the reputation of Canadian exports to the EU.

In the 90s – the curse of Canola

An even earlier warning came from the widespread and uncontrolled pollution of non GM canola, first grown in 1995. Three years later, GM pollution was found in volunteer canola plants. GM canola pollution in Canada has now reached such a high level that most certified seed growers in Saskatchewan will not guarantee their canola seed to be GM free and most certified organic cereal growers abandoned canola in their crop rotations.

Murray Bunnett, an organic farmer, speaking to a CBC journalist, reflects that, “When a person trespasses on somebody else’s property and it causes damage, the property owner can seek compensation. But when genetically modified crops trespass on farmers’ land, they can’t go after the company to get compensation. That’s fundamentally wrong.”

Farmer Paul Slomp adds: “We have to ask ourselves who is making the decisions around what kind of food we eat. And what concerns me is if farmers don’t want it and if eaters don’t want it, why on earth is this being legitimized and being commercialized in Canada”

Environment Minister Owen Paterson said to have believed the “bedtime GM fairytale” told to him by biotechnology corporations – and by MP George Freeman?

28 Dec

gmfree cymru

Dr Brian John, spokesman for GM-Free Cymru, has reacted to the government’s latest drive for GM crops following a meeting – largely unnoticed by the media – of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF with their industry body, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), Science Minister David Willetts, Lord Taylor, academics from UK universities, research institutes and representatives of the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The summary of the meeting which was written by the ABC and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, shows plans to:

  • spend more taxpayers’ money on R&D for GM crops and on “education”
  • promote GM crops in developing countries
  • remove regulatory and political barriers

Earlier this month it was widely reported that Owen Paterson, the Cabinet minister in charge of food and farming, said that genetically modified food should be grown and sold widely in Britain and consumer opposition to the technology is a “complete nonsense”.

GM-Free Cymru catalogues Paterson’s errors and – speaking for the group – Dr John says:

“What we have here is a classic example of a Government minister taking an aggressive stance on something which he knows absolutely nothing about.

“We challenge him, on the basis of hard evidence, on every single point which he makes. GM crops and foods are not wanted and not needed, and they harm both the environment and human health. Mr Paterson should seek better advice in future, or choose his friends more carefully.”

GM Education reports that discussions covered:

  • how a pro-GM agenda could be promoted in the UK ;
  • the encouragement of UK scientists to call for weaker regulation of GM crops in Europe;
  • and developing a more pro-GM approach to science in school curriculum.

MP George Freeman, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture is a supporter of GM technology and caused an outcry when he wrongly described M&S broccoli as having been genetically modified. GeneWatch has found details of GM industry funding for Freeman’s group in the Register of All-Party Groups:

National Farmers Union
Crop Protection Association
National Institute of Agricultural Botany
British Society of Plant Breeders
Agricultural Biotechnology Council,
Agricultural Industries Confederation
Maltsters Association of Great Britain
National Association of British and Irish Millers
Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board

It is provided via Front Foot Communications Ltd who act as the group’s secretariat. Funders include the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (representing the biggest GM crop companies BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, Pioneer (DuPont), Monsanto and Syngenta); the National Farmers Union (NFU), the Crop Protection Association, and the Agricultural Industries Confederation – see page 508.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture should  be free of vested interest – honest and impartial.

GM Education – an informative new website

4 Sep



Citizens Concerned about GM is a group of people who want a more balanced debate about GM; who want questions asked and answered; and an open, transparent discussion which is not dominated by the interests of multinational corporations.

We are asking as many people who are concerned about GM, from as many walks of life and backgrounds as possible, to join us in making our voices heard. We want to encourage people to raise issues and ask questions so that some balance is brought back into the political and policy debate.

This website has been funded by the Sheepdrove Trust to provide up to date information and discussion about GM in an accessible form. It is not aimed at campaigners but seeks to act as an information and education resource for citizens of all types.


As government, research bodies and, regrettably, most of the media are taking an overtly pro-GM line, the content of this site will be pre-dominantly one that is questioning and is reporting news that is not being covered by the mainstream media. We are not necessarily anti-GM but we think a lot more questions need to be asked about it.

A number of people on our mailing list have already signed up to this site’s list of concerned citizens. Any reading this post by chance may do so by visiting the site: http://www.gmeducation.org/