GM fanatics hurting ag

All credible scientific bodies agree that GM plant breeding is just as safe ....

EXPECT to see a tall dark shadow cast over plant breeding science and commonsense in Perth at Saturday's march against Monsanto and genetically modified (GM) foods rally.

The rally started on the steps of Parliament House in the early afternoon and involved a leisurely stroll through the city centre to Russell Square where various speakers addressed the audience.

The Perth rally coincided with other like-minded protests around the globe - in an estimated 52 countries and 400 cities - all designed to try and gain lots of media coverage to turn the world against big bad Monsanto and those nasty GM crops.

The first global march against Monsanto was held in May this year and drew an estimated two million angry protesters.

That figure included an estimated 1000 people in Perth - even though 2032 replied to an invite on the event’s Facebook page saying they would be going, from the 20,998 invited.

For the latest march against Monsanto, 10,116 Facebook invites were issued with 920 Facebookers saying they’d be going and 333 giving it a maybe.

Today’s event is also timed to coincide with World Food Day on October 16 which will help to inject even greater levels of symbolism and cynicism into efforts to try and scare the wits out of food consumers everywhere.

“The march is happening again in October to tie in with the fact that Monsanto is set to receive the World Food Prize known as the “Nobel Prize in Agriculture” this month,” the media promotion says.

Just hold that thought and reflect on it for a minute or two; Monsanto is set to receive the World Food Prize known as the “Nobel Prize in Agriculture” this month.

Maybe reflect for a minute or 10 and look it up on Google.

Intrigued by all the commotion and emotion, I phoned an old mate who happens to be an experienced grain farmer with an agricultural science degree and a bit of knowledge on this topic.

I asked what he thought was really going on at this global march against Monsanto and how many other scientists, farm industry leaders or down and dirty grain farmers supported what the protest was trying to promote.

His answer was: "none that are credible, factual or objective".

But what will the rally achieve, I asked?

“It will damage agriculture by scaring naive people into thinking GM crops or foods made from GM crops aren’t safe, even though food safety regulators all over the world including here in Australia have declared them to be safe,” my award-winning scientist friend said.

“All credible scientific bodies agree that GM plant breeding is just as safe as traditional plant breeding, if not safer.

“Let’s just hope the media doesn’t swallow all of the propaganda and gets it right.”

I asked my learned friend what he saw when he looked out across a rally like this one with so much feverous talk about grain crops and food production.

I asked what exactly crossed his mind when he observed the colourful mob of placard wielding protestors being spurred on by angry leaders, standing to attention at microphones and mega-phones making so much noise?

“What do I see? Just a game being played,” he said.

“But I’m not sure what their end game is here.

“I see people who are not educated and getting very emotional and promoting an organic niche but ignoring science and the environmental and health potential of GMs.

“Maybe they only take their information off the bloody internet – no cross checking of facts.

“Maybe they should be talking to plant breeding professors and other scientists and listening to the facts.

“Who they shouldn’t be listening to are celebrity chefs and others with vested interests in marketing organics.”

I also asked why the protesters objected so strongly to Monsanto making GM seeds and made it seem like the US based company was about to take over the global food chain and send the planet broke, taking farmers down with them.

But he pointed out they’re not the only multinational company producing and selling GM seed, with Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont/Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences also in the mix and dominating the US corn and soybean market.

“Why do they begrudge companies making a commercial profit?” he said.

“It’s almost like a religious belief.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t causing so much damage to farmers, science and forcing up regulatory costs making it harder to apply GM to other niche crops.”

Time maybe for the fanatics to wake up and smell the (engineered) coffee beans.

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READER COMMENTS

Pieman
14/10/2013 6:02:57 AM

I think the comments left illustrate your point exactly Colin. How many years of nothing happening do we go before we can confirm there are no problems. Talk to some SA growers and their ryegrass to understand why we need this option when growing grain. Growers aren't forced to grow - it's just another tool to use on our farms to try stay profitable.
The Older I Get..
14/10/2013 6:14:52 AM

In GM there are three sentiments that are true. That GM is not harmful. That Monsanto are not angels. And that the consumer and the farmer should be able to choose.
kb
14/10/2013 8:56:31 AM

silly me and I used to think journalism was about presenting an unbiased perspective. You write with such cynical stereotypical demonisation of anything that dares to shatter your fragile beliefs with a belittling tone and label it as dangerous. Clearly researching a topic is takes far too much time so much better to get an agreeable farmer to provide an opinion for evidence. FYI FSANZ here in Aus is the regulatory body & their approval process relies on the research provided by the company. It is not independent. So right there IS the problem. Also there is no monitoring once approved
GM Spider
14/10/2013 9:39:56 AM

I notice the vast majority of negative comments come from people not wanting GM don't make their living from AG. Colin is one of the few journalists who has taken the time to visit the countries adopting the technology to see the real benefits.
seethelight
14/10/2013 10:50:54 AM

Going by the irrational responses to Colin Bettle's factual claim that 'anti gm hysteria is hurting agriculture' I can only advise Colin to note this observation;'your role in life is not to be on the side of the majority but to avoid finding yourself in the ranks of the insane' As of est 8am today the 3billionth,580milionth,393thousan dth and 584th acre of gm crop has been harvested.(3,580,393,584).All of this production has been achieved without a single adverse environmental or health outcome. No wonder the 'Greens' don't want to accept responsibility for the harm they impose on Aussie ag
Will of Bordertown
14/10/2013 5:53:25 PM

I really don't care very much about GMs. In fact I am probably wearing some GM cotton next to my skin in my underwear. But I loathe and detest 'roundup ready'. The idea of using our best non selective herbicide as a selective is absolutely stupid. There is no better way to gaurantee the acceleration of herbicide resistance. There is a real need to divorce the term 'GM' from 'roundup ready' but Monsanto has already hijacked term to cover this terrible product. A pox upon the idiot farmers who have drunk Monsantos cool aide and are promoting this stuff
dogsbody
14/10/2013 6:31:18 PM

The "credible science" you refer to is mainly from these companies and government approvals are granted on uncontested data. There has been no testing down the food chain. if it is so safe why did Monsanto seek through Congress a special bill making them immune from prosecution. They would only do this if they have information they have not made public otherwise why the need for said legislation?
Hebe
14/10/2013 6:45:42 PM

What is our end game? If your 'old mate' wasn’t so self absorbed with his mobile speaker and microphone as he marched with us he could have asked. If he hadn't left early he would have heard from a wide range of speakers including farmers (conventional, organic and biodynamic) who are very concerned that they may lose their ability to grow and market GM-free food because of GM contamination. He would have heard about the demand for farmer protection legislation and transparent GM labelling, the importance of seed saving, seed sovereignty and biodiversity. Your ‘old mate’ only had to ask.
Jerry Jones
14/10/2013 9:17:13 PM

Good on all those that attended the Anti Monsanto March. We are sick of the lies, the chemicals and unethical conduct of these multinational companies. The people are standing up for their rights to chemical and GM free food - as nature indended.
Alice
14/10/2013 10:12:48 PM

Hang on a minute, you're talking about a banned substance here, banned in many parts of the world, banned with good reason. Shipments have been rejected due to GM contamination. Farmers have lost a lot of money from GM contamination. Suicides have been linked to the out of control debt from GM crops. It's shameful that Bettles & his old mate treat such a serious subject with cynicism & jocularity.
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Canberra CommentFairfax Agricultural Media Canberra correspondent Colin Bettles tackles the big national rural and agricultural issues which will impact regional and rural Australians.

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