Have you ever noticed something that may have been totally unacceptable you years ago is now something you accept; just because it’s everywhere? This applies to things we consider good and bad.
I’m really starting to wonder if this is how genetically modified (GM) crops will get their foothold and become a “normal” part of life (for want of a better term) throughout the world. Unfortunately, it’s already happened in the USA.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimate that 75% of all processed foods there contain a genetically modified ingredient. Ingredients don’t need to be flagged as being GM on labelling either. Scary stuff.
Here in Australia, genetically modified crops are making solid inroads with various tests and trials. Of course, we were reassured that these trial crops wouldn’t have a negative effect on other non-GM crops.
Tell that to West Australian farmer Steve Marsh and he’s likely to disagree. According to a report on The Land, Mr. Marsh says that he believes GM canola seed had infested part of his property after being blown nearly a mile from a neighboring property.
As a result of this, some of Mr. Marsh’s paddocks have lost their organic status, as organic standards in Australia (as in most countries) have zero tolerance for GM. Gaining and maintaining organic status is incredibly hard work and I really feel for this poor bloke.
Mr. Marsh is awaiting results of testing before taking further action.* Western Australia’s Minister for Agriculture Mick Murray has called for regulations to allow WA shires to declare themselves Genetically Modified crop-free in order to prohibit the growing of GM crops within their borders.
If Mr. Marsh’s fears are confirmed* and he chooses to take legal action, he’ll be in for one hell of a fight as Monsanto has already said it will back the neighbor with the GM crops.
(*Update: December 24, 2010. It’s now been confirmed by Western Australia’s Department of Agriculture that genetically-modified canola has contaminated Mr. Marsh’s organic farm. I wish him well in whatever action he chooses to take. If anyone knows how to get in touch with Steve Marsh via email, please let me know.)
Monsanto, a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is *incredibly* powerful, well cashed up and apparently not short on very aggressive lawyers. The company controls not only a major chunk of the seed industry, but agricultural pesticides.
This is one of my fears about GM crops – continuing contamination of non-GM crops and backed by rich patent owners to the extent we believe is resistance is futile; or any legal roadblock in their path is either bought off or litigated against until it’s dead.
Maybe this contamination, if that is what has happened, isn’t an unintended consequence; maybe this was foreseen and desired? Maybe this is how GM proponents want things to play out – a takeover by stealth and deceit? Bear in mind that these GM crops are patented meaning the companies *own* the species; as crazy as that may sound.
We underrate the power wielded by some elements of the agricultural sector. They may not have nuclear weapons, but like energy sources such as oil – control food production and you’ll go a long way towards controlling the world (and not to mention, get filthy rich in the process).
Is resistance futile? In this case, let’s hope it’s not; but I fear we are too late to halt the advance of GM crops. That doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t at least try.
If you haven’t seen it yet, try taking the time to watch the video – “The World According to Monsanto“; you can watch it via Green Living Tips.
Update December 28, 2010: Major grain buyers have threatened to cancel some Australian contracts over fears of GM contamination.