Friday, February 17, 2006

Here today and GM tomorrow

Genetically modifed crops were introduced secretively to agriculture with such indecent haste that one could only wonder what on earth was going on. Why the rush? Why the push? Why the aggression? Why the corporate paranoia?
There are many things to be said in favour of gene technology. Very many things. Their promise is immeasurable.
But there is something worrying about the way the agro biochemical mobs went about trialling their crops, about the very politics of the process and about their extraordinary hostility towards other parts of agriculture, especially the organic.
I had cause to do research on all of this some years ago and the results were disturbing, to say the least.
The big biochem corporations have won their battles. GM crops now are ubiquitous in many parts of the world.
There has been hope that we could hold out here and keep our crops green as a niche market. But, thanks to a former agriculture minister, one Rob Kerin, a former ag-chem salesman, the biochems were given a secret door into our landscape. I do recall the way in which he dismissed me as some sort of ignorant little woman when I asked him about the benefits of GM-free crops. He told me it would be impossible. It would cost too much.
We have had a holding pattern of sorts, a ban under a GM Crops Management Act. But it expires next year. The Democrats are trying to have it extended - and good on them.
It turns out that the Japanese are prepared to pay us premium prices for GM-free canola that we are growing on the wilderness environment of Kangaroo Island - proving that GM-free status is a lucrative niche market.
Japan is scouring the world with its wallet open looking for GM-free products. Europe, too.

But politics and corporate handshakes are a law unto themselves.
They are used to having their own way - buying their dominance.
Wait for the campaign to demean those who promote the idea of GM-free as a market advantage. Watch the barrage of the old hate invective....greenies, hippies, tree-huggers.
Politicians' interests are short-term. They would rather feather their nests with cosy arrangements with their biochem buddies than leave a clean future for their children. It just makes one so very, very sad.

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