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(from the ever excellent SchNEWS 201, 15 February 1999)

"Parliament is being besieged by them. We have our own crop of genetically modified lobbyists." - Alan Simpson, Labour MP

As SchNEWS went to press New Labour were stubbornly refusing to call a five year ban on genetically modified organisms (GMO)despite the outcry against 'frankensteins food' growing louder every day. Meanwhile the bio-technology companies must be holding their collective (three)heads in their hands. Last year the biggest and baddest of them all, Monsanto, spent one million pounds on an advertising campaign, yet support for gmo's plummeted; leaked memo's from the company confirmed that just when they thought it couldn't get any worse it did, again and again and now support for gmo's has hit rock bottom.

So what do you do when you've lost the argument with the public? You take the advice of PR company Burson Marsteller, the greenwash specialists, and fast spinning cog in the propaganda machine of the new world order. Yer good ol' neighbourhood perception managers advised EuropaBio- the main lobby organization for the European BioIndustry back at its first cake-divvying session in 1997- to leave any public debate to "those charged with public trust - politicians and regulators - to assure the public that biotech products are safe".


Now SchNEWS would never accuse the party of the people from being hand in glove with big business; the following list is just an uncanny co-incidence.
  • David Hill, one of the top media men for the Labour Party until a year ago, now works for Monsanto's PR company Bell Pottinger.
  • Cathy McGlynn is also employed by Bell Pottinger after six years of working as an adviser to Jack Cunningham Labour MP (who chairs the Cabinet committee on biotechnology and says a ban on gmo's would "not be sensible")
  • Lord Sainsbury, the billionaire whose supermarket empire sells unlabelled genetically modified food with abandon is New Labour Science Minister
  • The genetic food company Zeneca has an executive on the Dept of Healths Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food. Their Chief Executive Peter Doyle is also on the Department of Trade and Industry's Biotechnology Research Council.
  • Novartis, a rival of Monsanto and Zeneca, sponsored last years Labour conference, paid for a training session to tell new MPs how to behave and has one of its ex-employees, Nick Palmer, sitting in the Commons as the New Labour MP for Broxtowe (Novartis gives him #5,000 a year to be its Parlimanetary adviser)


And surely it can't be true that New Labour offered genetic engineering companies including Monsanto, millions of pounds in inducements to expand their UK operations?

Or that companies involved in GM food have met government officials and ministers 81 times since Labour came to power. An analysis by Friends of the Earth showed Monsanto's executives secured 17 audiences with ministers in Blair's first year in office - one meeting every three weeks.

Still, even if Labour do slap on a ban, Monsanto and Zeneca have threatened to appeal to the European Union, reckoning the British authorities have no power to halt genetic research if it has been given the go-ahead by the EU.

So it's back to Tory Blair who reckons the food is healthy, tasty, heaven sent dietary bliss and will settle for nothing else, for himself or his family. He must have been drooling when on Thursday activists delivered four tons of mutant soya beans to his doorstep.


"I wouldn't eat it willingly…It is commercially driven and we are like a guinea pig generation." - Dr.Mae Wan Ho, reader in biology at the Open University.

So forget the arguments that we have been genetically modifying crops for thousands of years (look mate, sticking the anti-freeze gene from an arctic fish into strawberries is a whole different ball-game from natural breeding processes which take years); that GMO's are gonna feed the world (the World Health Organisation say we already produce one and a half times what the world needs to feed itself, it's just a shame that market forces mean the poor can't afford to buy it); that genetic crops are more environmentally friendly because they use less pesticides! (get a grip - they actually need more pesticides and disturb the balance of the soil. We haven't a clue what would happen if these crops cross-breed with wild-plants, produce superweeds, create novel toxins, eradicate the wildplants that our native insects and birds depend on to survive in our countryside. In fact all over the world when non-indigenous species have been introduced into new environments they have caused long term damage.)


The fact is that this massive bio-tech experiment s the only avenue left if intensive farming systems are to have any chance of survival.

The SchNEWS alternative is small-scale organic farms which would wrestle food production away from the multinationals, would create jobs, would safeguard and improve the environment, would improve health, would put a greater percentage of the population back in touch with the land.

Just take a look at the million wetland rice farmers in the far east who have shifted to sustainable agriculture, where group-based farmer-field schools have enabled farmers to learn alternatives to pesticides whilst still increasing yields. While in the USA farmers are applying sustainable technologies so well they have higher yields than conventional farmers, without relying on toxic chemicals or the lame assurances of the gene age peddlers.

How many times do we have to say it, big business is only interested in profit, government is only interested in sucking up to big business.


The Monsanto Monitor
P.O. Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam, Holland. Tel: +31-20-468 2616; Email:

Genetix Update
PO Box 9656, London, N4 4JY Tel 0181 374 9516 GEN can also supply a list of genetic crop sites around the country

Nationwide Food Survey Beacon House, Willow Walk, Skelmersdale, Lancashire, WN8 6UP Produce 'How to Avoid Genetic Foods'

Grow yer own!

Organic food is the only food that under EC legislation cannot contain gmo's. Unfortunately it's still pretty expensive, so why not start growing your own fruit and veg. Find out how by sending a SAE to the Henry Doubleday Research Association, Ryton Organic Gardens, Coventry, CV8 3LG Tel 01203 303517

On Wednesday Monsanto and Perryfields Holdings Ltd, were given a pathetic #17,000 fine plus costs after breaking safety regulations in Lincolnshire. A six-metre border designed to stop the escape of GM pollen was found to be inadequate. As pollen can travel for miles and bees don't know the difference the borders are a joke.
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