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.