With G.M.O. Policies, Europe Turns Against Science

Oct 27, 2015

Image Credit: Pascal Pavani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By MARK LYNAS

CALL it the “Coalition of the Ignorant.” By the first week of October, 17 European countries — including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland — had used new European Union rules to announce bans on the cultivation of genetically modified crops.

These prohibitions expose the worrying reality of how far Europe has gone in setting itself against modern science. True, the bans do not apply directly to scientific research, and a few countries — led by England — have declared themselves open to cultivation of genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.s. But the chilling effect on biotech science in Europe will be dramatic: Why would anyone spend years developing genetically modified crops in the knowledge that they will most likely be outlawed by government fiat?

In effect, the Continent is shutting up shop for an entire field of human scientific and technological endeavor. This is analogous to America’s declaring an automobile boycott in 1910, or Europe’s prohibiting the printing press in the 15th century.

Beginning with Scotland’s prohibition on domestic genetically modified crop cultivation on Aug. 9, Europe’s scientists and farmers watched with mounting dismay as other countries followed suit. Following the Scottish decision, signatories from numerous scientific organizations and academic institutions wrote to the Scottish government to express grave concern “about the potential negative effect on science in Scotland.”

The appeal went unheeded.

Without a trace of embarrassment, a spokeswoman for Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, admitted that the first minister’s science adviser had not been consulted because the decision “wasn’t based on scientific evidence.” Instead, the priority was to protect the “clean green image” of the country’s produce, according to the secretary for rural affairs, food and environment.

This decision of a majority of European countries to apparently ignore their own experts may undermine any claim to the moral high ground at the coming Paris talks on climate change. The worldwide scientific consensus on the safety of genetic engineering is as solid as that which underpins human-caused global warming. Yet this inconvenient truth on G.M.O.s — that they’re as safe as conventionally cultivated food — is ignored when ideological interests are threatened.

The scientific community is facing a new European reality. Last November, the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, chose not to reappoint Prof. Anne Glover as his science adviser after lobbying by Greenpeace and other environmental groups.

“We hope that you as the incoming Commission president will decide not to nominate a chief scientific adviser,” they wrote.

Never mind that Professor Glover’s advice on G.M.O. safety reflected the scientific consensus. Mr. Juncker, hoping to make his political life easier, complied with their demand. Europe now has no chief scientific adviser.

Facing this hostile climate, the crop biotech sector in Europe is dying. The plant science division of the agrochemical giant BASF closed its doors in Germany back in 2012, shifting some operations to the friendlier climes of the United States. In the public sector, the European Academies Science Advisory Council, the leading voice of science in Europe, lamented in 2013: “The E.U. is falling behind international competitors in agricultural innovation and this has implications for E.U. goals for science and innovation.”

In addition, the council is worried that Europe’s G.M.O. phobia may slam the door on new technologies. For example, the gene-editing tool known as Crispr is on the brink of revolutionizing the field of genetics internationally.

The historical irony is that Europe once led in biotech: In 1983, Marc Van Montagu and Jeff Schell at the University of Ghent in Belgium introduced the world to modern plant genetic engineering. Today, however, no rational young scientist interested in molecular techniques of crop breeding would choose a base in Continental Europe.

Meanwhile, hypocrisy rules: Europe imports over 30 million tons per year of corn and soy-based animal feeds, the vast majority of which are genetically modified, for its livestock industry. Imports are preferred to European crops partly because biotech traits make them cheaper. Yet these same traits — such as herbicide tolerance and insect resistance — are now widely barred from domestic use.

In essence, Europe has chosen chemistry over biology: It will not be able to reduce fungicide applications by adopting genetically modified blight-resistant potatoes; nor can it cut down on insecticide sprays, since it won’t allow genetically modified insect-resistant crops to be grown. The data is clear: One study found that G.M.O. cultivation has led to a 40 percent reduction in insecticide spraying worldwide.


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29 comments on “With G.M.O. Policies, Europe Turns Against Science

  • There is nothing scientific of the GMO companies blocking labelling. Had they not done that implying that people if they knew would not want GMO, they would not be facing outright bans.



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  • @OP – These prohibitions expose the worrying reality of how far Europe has gone in setting itself against modern science.

    No it hasn’t! What a pathetic assertion! Europe leads the world in many scientific fields.

    True, the bans do not apply directly to scientific research,

    So MARK LYNAS promptly contradicts his own claptrap insinuations, and false equating of reckless commercialism with “science”! – The bans don’t apply to real science – just a precautionary approach to irresponsible applications of it!

    and a few countries — led by England — have declared themselves open to cultivation of genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.s. But the chilling effect on biotech science in Europe will be dramatic:

    Yep! Reckless commercialism will have to cool it, and do some ecological risk assessments while biotech companies will be regulated and held accountable. Europe learned from the unrestrained commercialism of the industrial revolution.

    Why would anyone spend years developing genetically modified crops in the knowledge that they will most likely be outlawed by government fiat?

    I suppose the chronically stupid who omitted ecology from their research budgets, would probably be better to abandon THEIR get-rich-quick work, and leave it to those who will experiment in a responsible manner! –

    Instead, they will probably look for some corruptible third-world government, or a country where unregulated commercialism rules, and pollution is rife while health, safety and ecology are largely ignored!

    In effect, the Continent is shutting up shop for an entire field of human scientific and technological endeavor.

    Ha! ha! ha! – Try for a new career in comedy – You have no talent for science or rational communication!

    This is analogous to America’s declaring an automobile boycott in 1910, or Europe’s prohibiting the printing press in the 15th century.

    Perhaps someone should have explained the fallacy of the forced analogies, and the short-sighted, blinkered cherry-picking, commonly used by the irrational!
    “I am too ignorant to see the need for regulation”, does not demonstrate that the need for regulation does not exist, or that quick fat profits for reckless big business is not the leading objective of the civilised world!

    There are concerns and benefits to be derived from work on GMO, but this ignorant propagandist author has nothing of value to contribute to that debate!



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  • The faces of the hungry [African] children come to mind every time I hear European politicians boast about their country’s G.M.O. ban and demand that the rest of the world follow suit

    This is shameless, cheap, unevidenced and betrays real ignorance of the core issues. It is contemptible.

    Not one mention of the problems of business practice, the securing of a low cost generic path for the poorest countries, risk of monocultures and the maintenance of bio diversity, for plan B.

    Myself, I am keen to use the technology in embedded and vertical farms to regularize the geometry of plants and their systems. But these business issues must be addressed properly first. Withholding the opportunity is the best way of securing the outcomes needed.



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  • Hazmat
    Oct 27, 2015 at 11:03 am

    @ phil rimmer & Alan4discussion:
    There is a vast difference between banning a technology because of irrational fears and regulating the industry.

    True! – There is also a difference between supporting scientific research and allowing those with a decades long track-record of recklessness to operate without regulation!

    Judging the merits and rationality of the “fears” would be based on evidence, with the precautionary principle maintaining public and environmental safety.

    There is no evidence that safety issues were properly evaluated before some GMO experiments were launched, and a great deal of evidence of extensive recklessness, in regard to gene leakage and ecological damage.
    The agro-chemicals industry is notorious for false safety claims and gross commercial abuses of valuable resources such as antibiotics.
    Humans are still causing a mass extinction of key species, poisoning environments, spreading invasive species, and destabilising the climate of the planet, from their earlier reckless innovative applications of technologies!



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  • Exactly so.

    But the likes of Monsanto are eager to shuck off profit reducing constraints. This is a new channel for profiting at some severe possible costs to others, not least the smaller players and its legacy implications. The wild and poorly regulated US agribusiness model licensing antibiotics as a profit multiplier in meat production has wrought huge health costs for everyone on the planet for the sake of a greedy few. Putting sensible mitigations in place for such disruptive technology so that we don’t get the same or worse will very soon start to soften opinion.

    The debate has been very poorly framed by the media with known bought and paid for PR operations posing as Institutes of this or that quelling discussion of the real concerns to frame it as a loony-only Frankenfood concern against which they have a rather easier win.

    Until we get the honest debate we need this will remain locked up in silliness.



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  • So we are on the same page with regards to industry regulation. Unfortunately, this ban is not about that. This ban is exactly because of irrational fears of “Frankenfood” and the supposed “unnaturalness” of GMOs, despite the fact that almost all organisms mankind uses for food barely resemble the originals. If this would be about taking precautions, evaluating risks and rewards, and coming up with tight regulation for the companies wanting to use it, then I’d wholeheartedly support it, even if it meant a ban at the end of the process. As it stands, regulatory bodies have been giving in to successful campaigns based on diffuse and irrational fears instead of a rational, levelheaded debate.



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  • Hazmat
    Oct 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    This ban is exactly because of irrational fears of “Frankenfood” and the supposed “unnaturalness” of GMOs, despite the fact that almost all organisms mankind uses for food barely resemble the originals.

    “Frankenfood” is a strawman invention of the media, the industries, and a few hippies, and is used to distract from the real GMO risks, of gene-leakage, patenting of genetic material, market manipulations to establish commercial monopolies, the dangers of creating invasive “Franken weeds”, and the dangerous ecological imbalances from more intensive monoculture farming methods!
    Round-up-Ready cereals are potentially a particularly nasty piece of work from the issue of herbicide damage and gene leakage.

    As I pointed out earlier, this OP article is propagandist drivel, written by an ignoramus who has nothing to contribute to an evidence-based rational debate on this subject.



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  • I’m not talking about the article, I’m talking about the ban.
    “[…] real GMO risks, of gene-leakage, patenting of genetic material, market manipulations to establish commercial monopolies, the dangers of creating invasive “Franken weeds”, and the dangerous ecological imbalances from more intensive monoculture farming methods!”
    And that’s exactly my issue. Three of the five issues you mention (patenting of genes, market manipulation, more monoculture farming) are regulatory issues. They’ve got nothing to do with the technology. The rest is about research and establishing safety protocols to handle the technology. Mind you, I’m not advocating for a “let’s go wild” approach, I’m advocating for caution instead of panic. But this ban is simply an unwarranted, irrational overreaction to a technology that holds great promise as well as dangers, like any other technology we use. GMOs need to be (and are already) reviewed on a case-by-case basis, an outright ban is no solution, especially if it is not based on reasonable grounds. But seeing that this ban went through, nobody seems to have wanted a rational debate.



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  • I can’t help thinking this is high level politicking. The politicians in Europe are on safe ground after the US and Europe swapped regulatory regimes. We used to be lax and the US strict. Since our regulatory disasters like BSE we are now the strict ones and the US lax. Being anti GMO gets you elected. Doing some other better thing is less effective.

    Because the GMO industry have nakedly manipulated the media to hurry up to profits (we had an example discussed here a year ago) I think governments are in no hurry to bow to this as it would be exploited mercilessly by the anti GMO lobby.

    I think the ball is usefully in the industry’s court at the moment. If they chose to put their own house in order and offer governments sell-able concessions, do gooding stuff for third world access, funding seed banks, labelling, more open testing etc. etc. I think a lot of public fears might start to be allayed. The public response may only present as “frankenfood” but be more nuanced underneath. Industry led teasing out of all the fears rather than dealing with only one aspect and that with tackily sourced material can start to fix it.

    I think the industry got terrible PR advice for Europe and failed to read the the mood of the people and thought a simple message would work where honesty and openness was needed and an investment in a bigger process. They have delayed their access to profits maybe for decades as a result.



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  • Hazmat
    Oct 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    And that’s exactly my issue. Three of the five issues you mention (patenting of genes, market manipulation, more monoculture farming) are regulatory issues. They’ve got nothing to do with the technology.

    I think they have a great deal to do with the marketing of the technology by large corporations.

    The rest is about research and establishing safety protocols to handle the technology. Mind you, I’m not advocating for a “let’s go wild” approach, I’m advocating for caution instead of panic.

    I am not against GMO per se, but can see many good reasons why corporations involved are not to be trusted to handle it safely.

    But this ban is simply an unwarranted, irrational overreaction to a technology that holds great promise as well as dangers, like any other technology we use. GMOs need to be (and are already) reviewed on a case-by-case basis, an outright ban is no solution,

    In a field of reckless commercialism and misleading propaganda campaigns, I think an outright ban is a very good starting point from which to begin a case by case approval or rejection on individual merits.

    especially if it is not based on reasonable grounds. But seeing that this ban went through, nobody seems to have wanted a rational debate.

    Indeed the corporations did not want a rational debate. they wanted a politically approved free for all based on misleading media campaigns – while being aided and abetted by the hippy “naturalistic fallacy” brigade, who provided the media with lame input to construct stawman diversions away from the real problems.

    You only have to look as far as the multi-million dollar denial campaigns funded by the coal and oil industries against the solid science on climate change, and the lies they have spread about green technologies “ruining the economy”!

    The agro-chemical business is no different! Did you know that the medical problems of anti-biotic resistance are still being aggravated by 80% of antibiotic production STILL (after 50+ years of warnings), being used in animal feed to boost profits!
    Do you know how much invasive weeds are costing us because of careless global transport systems failing to operate appropriate quarantine regulations?

    http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/forests/explore/invasives-101.xml
    Invasive species have contributed directly to the decline of 42% of the threatened and endangered species in the United States. The annual cost to the United States economy is estimated at $120 billion a year, with over 100 million acres (an area roughly the size of California) suffering from invasive plant infestations. Invasive species are a global problem — with the annual cost of impacts and control efforts equaling five percent of the world’s economy.

    The last thing we need is new herbicide resistant invasive “Franken Weeds” accidentally created by sloppy GMO experiments causing gene leakage!



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  • @OP – Meanwhile, hypocrisy rules: Europe imports over 30 million tons per year of corn and soy-based animal feeds, the vast majority of which are genetically modified, for its livestock industry. Imports are preferred to European crops partly because biotech traits make them cheaper.

    . . . .

    Instead, the priority was to protect the “clean green image” of the country’s produce, according to the secretary for rural affairs, food and environment.

    Scotland acquired its “clean green image”, by missing out on the worst costly ravages of diseases (BSE and foot and mouth) which were introduced to the livestock industry by “cowboy” animal food manufacturing companies recycling abattoir waste into animal protein supplements and extensive movements marketing live animals.
    The world is still paying the enormous cost of these “cheap” animal food sources and of diseased “cheap” meat and cheap feed, from global trade!

    http://www.thecattlesite.com/bse-news/

    The cost of caution is small, compared to trying to put the genie of rampant bio-hazards back in the bottle!



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  • 15
    old-toy-boy says:

    Well said Alan4discussion, and others,
    I am pleased to see that I am not the only one wanting to stop GMO products. It really irritates me that GM lobby’s main selling point is that GM products are safe to eat, But they refuse to listen to the question :- are they safe for the environment? These companies are drive by the short term profit motive, and they do not care if they ruin it the rest of the world.
    Same for fracking, as long as they make a quick buck, they do not care if it pollutes the ground water for hundreds of years to come.
    I have just made some strong accusations, I accept that I may be wrong, but there is a distinct lack of unbiased information, almost as if such information is being suppressed, and there seems to be a policy of deliberate distraction to stop us getting our questions answered. (anti science my arse!) (am I allowed to say that?).



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  • the dangers of creating invasive “Franken weeds”, and the dangerous ecological imbalances from more intensive monoculture farming methods!
    Round-up-Ready cereals are potentially a particularly nasty piece of work from the issue of herbicide damage and gene leakage.

    If geneticists set out to create a “Franken Weed”, let’s look at the specification!

    There has been some success in controlling invasive weeds by taking natural predators of the weed which keep it in balance in its native eco-system (eg Cactoblastis used to attack Prickly Pear opuntias in Australia). There have also been ecological disasters attempting this (Cane Toads in Australia).

    As any accidentally created GM weeds don’t have a native ecosystem, they don’t have any natural predators or a native ecosystem where they are in balance.

    So what would be the nastiest Franken weed imaginable!

    It would need to be strong growing and out-compete rival vegetation.
    It would need to be highly resistant to insect, bacterial and fungal attack.
    It would be poisonous to anything grazing on it (insects, rodents etc.)
    It could also be immune to herbicides.
    It would produce an abundance of widely distributed seeds.
    it would also spread vegetatively.

    In trials, GM Cereals have been shown to leak genes into surrounding crops and related grasses, so if any of the above characteristics are engineered into crops and leaked into related weed species, (given the acreages planted), there only needs to a chance of one in millions and this is almost certain to happen.

    If we look at GMO, these are just the sorts of features which ARE being engineered into crops!

    Even without the potential weed problem, an extensive sterile weed free monoculture, is also a barren desert, as far as any wildlife or balanced ecosystem is concerned.



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  • Here at the homepage of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason we have our own “Coalition of the Ignorant” assembled in this comment section. The scientific consensus is that GMOs pose no unusual health or environmental risk. GMOs have been feeding us for decades without any of the dire predictions of the antis coming true. GMOs hold great promise for enabling us to meet the challenges that an increasing world population will face in the future. The indefatigable liars who malign biotechnology already have blood on their hands and won’t be satisfied until they cause mass world starvation. For shame.



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  • Instead of insults and a partial view why not join me in the cautious middle and accept that checks and balances most particularly in the nature of the business roll out are the better path. Polarising inflammatory statements will lose you allies. Offer some facts rather. The costs are there to be found. Caution always brings its own harms.

    The antibiotic catastrophe of incaution and under-regulation in the US may have contributed very substantially to avoidable harms though…

    A project commissioned by the British government has released estimates of the near-future global toll of antibiotic resistance that are jaw-dropping in their seriousness and scale: 10 millions deaths per year, more than cancer, and at least $100 trillion in sacrificed gross national product.

    http://www.wired.com/2014/12/oneill-rpt-amr/



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  • prietenul
    Oct 28, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Here at the homepage of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason we have our own “Coalition of the Ignorant” assembled in this comment section.

    Or at least one recently joined cheerleader for the propaganda-fed ignorant!

    The scientific consensus is that GMOs pose no unusual health [risk]

    I think the strawman diversionary nature of this claim was very clearly explained in earlier comments. (Equally irrelevant! – GMOs are not causing a serious risk of altering the orbit of the Moon either!!!)

    Any general all inclusive statement like this which fails to deal with merits of individual cases, is just eye-wash for the ignorant!

    [The scientific consensus is that GMOs pose no unusual] or environmental risk.

    Citations please! – I have just explained a number of serious environmental risks which should be easily understood by anyone with a scientific understanding of ecology, invasive species, or genetics!
    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/10/with-g-m-o-policies-europe-turns-against-science/#li-comment-189184



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  • To underline the complexity of the issue of third world malnutrition, this recent account from the Bill Gates foundation rather underlines where the roadblocks mainly are.

    Gates Foundation GMO

    Even in the best African practices agriculture still stands at 54% the efficiency of most other developed regions. Uganda was given $9.5 billion to buy fertiliser to correct this. Government and other misappropriation stole $8.7 billion of it. The problem with GMO seeds is that they are always more expensive than non-GMO. As the article notes, even in the poorest areas 30% of food grown locally leaves the region simply because there is no buying power to access it.

    The local banana initiative with free seeds may be a way forward, and the alterations are small. Here’s a place to start, perhaps. But recognise GMO technology is partially fixing a problem that when viewed from an economics stand point doesn’t need to be there. The fastest solution is to make sure aid and development assistance gets where it is needed. This is a job that needs doing anyway.



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  • It’s worth taking a look at some of the articles on genetically engineered food that one can find at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here’s a sample quote:

    “Failure to Yield is the first report to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies. It reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States. Based on those studies, the UCS report concludes that genetically engineering herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn has not increased yields. Insect-resistant corn, meanwhile, has improved yields only marginally. The increase in yields for both crops over the last 13 years, the report finds, was largely due to traditional breeding or improvements in agricultural practices.

    The UCS report comes at a time when food price spikes and localized shortages worldwide have prompted calls to boost agricultural productivity, or yield — the amount of a crop produced per unit of land over a specified amount of time. Biotechnology companies maintain that genetic engineering is essential to meeting this goal. Monsanto, for example, was running an advertising campaign at the time of the report release warning of an exploding world population and claiming that its “advanced seeds… significantly increase crop yields…” The report debunks that claim, concluding that genetic engineering is unlikely to play a significant role in increasing food production in the foreseeable future.”

    Toss in a couple of articles that inform us htat there are now millions of acres of pesticide resistant weeds or comments about unsustainable approach to food production and it would appear that GMO’s are something to be introduced with a whole lot more care than current practices.



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  • Tolken
    Oct 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    It’s worth taking a look at some of the articles on genetically engineered food that one can find at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_Concerned_Scientists

    http://www.ucsusa.org/about-us#.VjE5124R9Vk

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming#.VjE5hG4R9Vk

    It is indeed important to see the work of independent scientists, and distinguish these from the biased blitherings of adversing campaigns and the empty assertions of media stooges of commercial interests!



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  • That was a great reply, if I may say so. The points you raised and that I’d like to reiterate are:

    The use of the ‘precautionary principle’ that, quite rightly, is and must be applied to GMO’s as with other, similar products like pharmaceuticals (eg. vaccines). It is a logical approach and an entirely legitimate method of protecting the public from the unknown yet potentially very harmful effects that GMO’s may pose to the ecosystem as a whole and not just the effects they have on human beings.
    The secrecy and suspicious behaviour that surrounds agribusinesses. Preventing the public from knowing about the sort of field trials and safety tests (and the results) they conduct and preventing labelling and thereby stopping consumers from making the choices about what they eat can hardly be said to inspire confidence among the general public. Indeed, quite the reverse. To say that agribusiness has a PR problem where GMO’s are concerned is something of an understatement and their behaviour does nothing to assuage this; if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear is the current slogan and in the market place of ideas, GMO’s just aren’t selling well because consumers aren’t buying their BS.

    A greater openness and transparency is required by the likes of agribusinesses such as Cargill and Monsanto and not a resort to lobbying politicians into passing legislation lacking democratic legitimacy, or co-opting scientists by dubious means.



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  • But what else should we label food as?
    *”Caution! May contain magic!”
    *Caution! Paying attention to labels about fictional food safety issues actually makes you less intelligent!”
    How about this one:
    *”Caution! Handled by negros!”

    Why, everyone everyone knows you can never get negro DNA off of food no matter how well you wash it. If you eat negro DNA contaminated food then negro DNA might (somehow – we’ll get back to you on this part later) get into the human food chain! You don’t want negro DNA to contaminate the human food chain do you? Well? Do you?

    When that’s precisely the level of stupidity we’re dealing with, it should NOT be given any kind of endorsement, encouragement, or recognition by the government or industry.



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  • ANTIcarrot
    Oct 28, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    But what else should we label food as?

    http://www.sustainweb.org/publications/how_can_improved_food_labelling_contribute/

    How can improved food labelling contribute to a healthy and sustainable food system?

    Food labelling should help consumers to eat healthily and to use their buying power to support sustainable food and farming. However, food labelling is currently confusing, with new proposals to label food for health and sustainability hotly contested by the food industry and government. This 36-page report was prepared as a technical submission to the Quality of Life Commission in 2007. It investigates the history and purpose of food labelling, and explores how food labelling could be used to support public policy goals, to improve health and the sustainability of the food system.



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  • Report contents

    Food labelling for sustainable food and farming: introduction
    Sustainable food: definitions

    What is ‘sustainability’?
    What are ‘local’, ‘regional’ and ‘sustainable’ foods?
    What types of food are labelled?
    The growing market for sustainable food
    What can labelling achieve?
    Types of food labelling already in use or in development

    Farm assurance labelling schemes
    Opportunities and limitations for promoting sustainability with the Little Red Tractor
    Labelling for traceability
    Labelling of animal carcasses
    Labelling of meat at wholesale
    Labelling of meat for retail
    Special labelling rules for beef
    Opportunities and limitations for promoting sustainability through red meat labelling
    Egg labelling
    Opportunities and limitations for promoting sustainability through egg labelling
    Sustainable fish labelling
    Opportunities and limitations for promoting sustainable fish
    Fairtrade labelling
    Labelling relating to pesticide residues and traceability
    Provenance labelling
    European protected provenance labelling
    Opportunities and limitations of promoting sustainability with European provenance labelling
    Supermarket and other retail labelling of local and regional foods
    Provenance labelling by regional food groups
    Opportunities and limitations for promoting sustainability with supermarketand regional food group ‘local food’ labelling
    Certificate of Provenance
    Opportunities and limitations for promotion of sustainability with a Certificateof Provenance
    Can provenance labelling be misleading?
    Labelling for ‘food miles’
    Labelling for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions
    Labelling for broader sustainability values
    Nutrition labelling
    What is needed to improve food labelling for sustainability?
    Other publications on food labelling and marketing



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  • 27
    Desmond says:

    I may be wrong but in my understanding of GMO technology. The issue is not the modification of genetic material that is the issue, it is the fact that “someone” (giant US corporations) owns the patents on the technology and are controlling the price we pay for the food chain. Make the GMO’s un-patent-able and open up the patent on the herbicide it uses and we have fair trade and equal opportunities for all (rich and poor). Look what happened to “GOLDEN RICE”, there was a worldwide snarl from the big guys who stood nothing to gain as no one owned the patent…maybe I have lost the plot but this is my understanding???



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  • Tolken
    Oct 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    “Failure to Yield is the first report to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies. It reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States. Based on those studies, the UCS report concludes that genetically engineering herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn has not increased yields. Insect-resistant corn, meanwhile, has improved yields only marginally. The increase in yields for both crops over the last 13 years, the report finds, was largely due to traditional breeding or improvements in agricultural practices.

    These are the sorts of issues which should be being rationally balanced against the environmental risks from gene leakage into weed species, the effects on soil organisms, insect pollinators, bird-life etc. and the loss of genetic diversity in crop species from sought-after corporate monopolies of seed production.

    They also debunk the corporate propaganda, that GMOs are a miracle solution to the unaddressed world over-population problems and associated poverty.
    Displacing subsistence farmers and indigenous peoples, by handing their land over to corporate production companies for export of crops, does NOT relieve poverty!



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  • BTW: I am thinking of having some green beans as part of a dinner today!

    I have a choice!
    I can go and pick some from my garden, or I can buy some in a packet which have been imported by air-freight from Africa where people are short of food!
    (There is a label stating the country of origin on the packet, but as we know – many multi-national corporations don’t like European labelling laws!)



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