21 Jun 2013 Geoffrey Lean Bitter taste of GM humble pie Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has not advanced the cause of genetically modified foods
In the heat of battle, the story goes, a general stopped by a battery that had just delivered a thunderous fusillade. “Did you hit the target?” he asked, peering through the smoke. “I’ve no idea, sir,” came the reply. “But it certainly left here with a heck of a bang.” Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s great GM speech was rather like that. In preparation for months, trailed assiduously, it was banged out before an enthusiastic invited audience in the wake of a barrage of endorsements from top scientists assembled by the supportive Science Media Centre. But whether it will achieve its aims – converting a sceptical public and persuading a majority of EU governments finally to allow more modified crops to be grown in Europe – is another matter. And, within hours, its trajectory was beginning to look decidedly doubtful.
The Frankenfood Conspiracy Secret summit where slick lobbyists for bio-tech giants seduced Tory Ministers into changing their tune on GM food 22 June 2013
Further fuelling the anger of environmentalists are questions over the loyalties of MPs and ministers most involved in formulating government policy on GM. They point out, for example, that Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s wife, Rose, is the sister of Viscount Matt Ridley, who is better known as the former chairman of Northern Rock. After presiding over the bank’s collapse, he has concentrated on his career as a pro-GM blogger and science writer. Has Ridley had formal or informal discussions with his brother-in-law the Environment Secretary on the subject of GM? DEFRA couldn’t tell me. Matt Ridley did not respond to our request for a comment.
Heresy of the week: Owen Paterson is wrong about GM crops 28 June 2013
a recent poll in Farmers Weekly funded by Barclays Bank found that 61% of farmers would grow a GM crop but when given a choice of conventional, organic or GM-labelled food products, 54% of farmers said they would choose a conventional food product, 24% would choose organic and if the choice were there, and only 15% would choose GM a recent survey by Which? found that 71 per cent of Britons believe GM food, and meat from animals fed on GM food, should be banned from supermarkets
just published research on the effects of GM animal feed found that GM-fed female pigs had on average a 25% heavier uterus than non-GM-fed females, a possible indicator of disease that requires further investigation also, the level of severe inflammation in stomachs was markedly higher in pigs fed on the GM diet the research results were striking and statistically significant
Judy A. Carman, Howard R. Vlieger, Larry J. Ver Steeg, Verlyn E. Sneller, Garth W. Robinson, Catherine A. Clinch-Jones, Julie I. Haynes, John W. Edwards (2013). A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet. Journal of Organic Systems 8 (1): 38-54. Open access full text: http://www.organicsystems.org/journal/81/8106.pdf
Organic sales are back in sustained growth after years of decline - as the ‘horsegate effect’ proves longer-lasting than many predicted. The Grocer - 13 July 2013 Organic food and drink sales, excluding babyfood, rose 2% in the 12 weeks to 14 April 2013 and have since accelerated, rising 3.7% in the 12 weeks to 12 May and 4.2% in the 12 weeks to 9 June, to £187.4m [Kantar WorldPanel]. Growth in the three months to June exceeded the total grocery market’s 3.1%. Latest UK data Year-on-Year Spend Growth £% Rolling 12we 9th June 2013 Source: Kantar WorldPanel