Fbae Logo
Home | | Support Us | Contact Us
Goals & Objectives Our Position False Propaganda Special Topics Important Publications Important Links Events news Biosafety
Fbae Header Home




If Ever the World Needed GM Food Production, It's Right Now
Irish Independent | Wednesday April 23 2008
Kevin Myers

The dilemma is simple. The sustained hysteria over global warming is finally beginning to cost lives -- as it was bound to. Ignoring the laws of nature -- and the market place is nature at its purest -- will always exact a price. And the price is usually paid by the weakest and the most vulnerable in a society: of course, this will not include -- and never could include -- the well-heeled humbugs who have driven the hysteria in the first place.

We were told that one way of tackling global warming was to burn biofuels rather than fossil fuels: since replacement crops will absorb the carbon dioxide created when the biofuels combust, the transaction is said to be "carbon neutral".

Governments have thus been rewarding producers for growing biofuels -- with the result that in the US, many farmers prefer to grow them rather than food. Listen: I was the worst student ever to pass first- year economics at UCD, but I still understand the consequences of cutting supply. Prices go up.

And that's what's happened. Rice is roughly twice the price that it was a year ago. That's irritating for us, but perfectly catastrophic for the poor of the world. So serious is the problem that India (among many other countries) has outlawed the export of rice: a further interference in the market. And that's the way of such things: one correction obliges the market-molester to endlessly correct as the initial distortion caused by the first correction begins to rock the entire structure.

No-one can manage the consequences, because they are too complex and unpredictable.

Now, you might argue that increasing the price of food is a necessary, if tragic, step towards saving the world from global warming. But it is a strange morality indeed which also campaigns against a technology that could both make food cheaper, and biofuels easier to grow.

Yet the science of genetic modification can unleash the vast untapped resources which are locked up in the DNAs of different species.

As Swift so aptly put it: "that whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together".

Quite. Yet it is the political classes in Europe, with the eco-mob at their heels -- they who wax so hysterical about global warming -- who have prevented the development of GM products here. Supermarkets even boast "We sell no GM products", as witless as the 19th-century apothecary's response to Edward Jenner's discoveries: "No vaccination here".

Simply, GM will enable us to increase plant production, without greater use of fertiliser, for three purposes: to grow biofuels, to produce greater vegetable crops, and, finally, to cultivate special plants whose sole duty is carbon imprisonment. This last function is what the molluscs of the oceans did millions of years ago. By locking up atmospheric carbon in their tiny shells, in due course they became the great limestone, marble and chalk mountains of the world, thereby lowering the world's temperature, and making terrestrial life possible.

But the very people who grew hysterical at the prospect of GM crops five years ago are today at the forefront of shrieking about global warming. The mathematics of all this are quite simple. So too are the morals. What is less easy to understand is the philosophy which prevents us from the reaching the logical conclusion to which maths and morals direct us.

For if we are to move towards biofuels, either we have GM technology, or millions of people in the developing world (as it is incorrectly called, because a lot of it isn't developing at all) will die. There is no third way.

Now, you can argue that the world could do with a reduction of population, and since there is no obvious group rather altruistically volunteering for extinction, the winnowing out of unwanted bodies will have to occur naturally somewhere that the population is already growing faster than are local resources.

There is a name for such a place. It is Africa. Is this what people want? That Africans should die of hunger in their millions, in order that we should feel better because we are using carbon-neutral biofuels, even as we are outlawing the GM technology that will make those fuels, and foodstuffs, cheaper and more available?

It is an interesting morality which embraces this equation, especially since the mumbo-jumbo over global warming is usually propounded by people who declare themselves to be morally superior to just about everyone else on the planet.

You may just have gathered from my tone my position on this. It is that mankind can do almost nothing useful to lower global warming, and therefore we shouldn't try. But sideline that argument, and address the hypothetical possibilities of reducing CO2 levels by plant activity, without causing famine. That cannot be done without GM: moreover, changing the genes of plant life is what mankind has done ever since the invention of agriculture, in the alluvial gardens of Mesopotamia 10,000 years ago.

Related News Articles

Bt-corn does not harm biodiversity

Countering insect resistance with designer Bt toxins

ICGEB receives grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen and expand biosafety systems in sub-Saharan Africa

Policy on the transfer of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) from Asia to Africa by the WorldFish Center

Rules on marketing GM produce face review

EU ministers to debate Bayer's GM cotton, soybeans

EU's legal labyrinth of GMO legislation


The latest issue of Plant Physiology (July 2008; Volume 147, Issue 3) has a special section on next generation of biotech crops especially on nutritional improvement.  These papers can
be downloaded free!

Influence of Transgenosis on the Plant-Insect- Relationships, in Particular on Chemically       Mediated Interactions

Effect of Transgenes Conferring Enhanced Pathogen Resistance on the Interaction with Symbiotic        Fungi in Rice

Impact on the Soil Ecosystem through Natural and Genetically Engineered Organisms:
      Effects, Methods and Definition of Damage as Contribution to Risk Assessment

The Decomposition of Bt-Corn on the Fields and its Impact on Earthworms and on other        Macroorganisms in the Soil

Environmental Post-market Monitoring of Bt-maize:
       Approaches to Detect Potential Effects on Butterflies and Natural Enemies

Columns by Dan Gardner

Against the Grains: 'The Terminator Hoax '

Decisions taken in the 84th Meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee

Brazilian Health Biotech: Fostering Crosstalk Between Public and Private Sectors

Biotechnology Related Article Appeared on 'Samyukta Karnataka' ( Regional Language )
June 12, 2008.

Nothing Left to the Imagination

The Politics of GM Food
Kirit S Javali

Hi-tech seed factories: Sowing Seeds of Success

"Indian Seed Industry is Well Placed to Serve Both Domestic and International Markets"
Dr MK Sharma,
Managing Director,
Mahyco Monsanto

"If we Facilitate Seed Industry, we Facilitate Growth in Agriculture"
Dr Govind Garg,
Krishidhan Seeds

Metagenomics: Window to the Microbial Universe

Few Checks to Prevent Entry of GM Food

Gene Campaign Criticises India’s ‘Silence’ at Global Bio-Safety Meet

An Enforceable International Compact for Infectious Diseases

"Indian Science in Genomics has been Able to Place Itself on the Global Map"

Indian Gene Decoded

The Development of RNAi as a Therapeutic Strategy

FAO E-Conference on Biotechnologies and Water Scarcity

Genetic Landscape

Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture

RH Nature Reviews Genetics 08- Opposition to Transgenic Technologies

Germany: Discussion Paper of German Ag-Industry about EU Biotech Policy Implications

Bt maize performance in Spain

Arsenic speciation varies with type of rice

Why I Am Bothered by Neo-Colonialist NGOs

China experts identify gene for yield, height in rice

The French government has called for a debate on the review of the EU
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has also repeatedly criticised the EU for "undue delays" in the authorisation of GMOs. See the latest WTO ruling:

The legal bans are in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Greece.

EU delays decision on approving more GM crops

UCR Geneticist Plays Scientific Advisor to Movie about “Love, Adventure and ... Genetically Modified Rice”

Gujrat worst-hit by illegal Bt cotton production

Farmers seek ban on GM crops

Call for policing
Ijaz Ahmed Rao discusses the virtues of a bio-safety framework for genetically modified crops, now that they have become farmers’ favourite

Stem cells: The 3-billion-dollar question

Genes as the solution

Food crisis spurs research spending

Global Food Crisis / UN / Bilingual Transcript of Statements by Secretary-General, Heads of Concerned Agencies, and Response to Questions at Press Conference on Global Food CrisisGM Crops, A World View

Mass Protests against GM Crops in IndiaInterference at the EPA

Open letter to Robert B. Zoellick, President, World BankNew BT variety may push short staple cotton output.

The future of agricultural biotechnology: Creative, destruction, adoption, or irrelevance? ICABR Conference 2008

Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.

Prof. Kameswara Rao and Dr. T.M. Manjunath's Participation in 2008 Biotech Activities

Scrutinizing Industry-Funded Science: The Crusade Against Conflicts of Interest

LEADER: Nurturing nanotech

Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development

Scientists find potential schistosomiasis treatment

Islamic conference boosts S&T with new resolutions

Mexico publishes GM approval guidelines

Uganda 'close to stamping out Hib meningitis'

New method 'prevents spread of GM plants'

Social factors 'help women with post-tsunami stress'

Women scientists celebrated in new charter

Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 13–25 March

Brazil creates US$18 million fund for young scientists

Health weeks 'powerful tools' for deworming children

Rotavirus vaccine, not treatment, 'cheaper for Panama'