Lunatics Pledge To Sabotage Biotech Crops (29/9/2003)

"We have documented cases to show that a lot of arm-twisting and bullying is going on. We know of these things happening with governments in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Egypt and many others." (item 2)

1.Lunatics Pledge To Sabotage Biotech Crops
2.Britain Set To Seal Future of GM in Europe
3.Bayer says GM maize ready for planting in Britain
4.Bayer gives up GM testing
1.Lunatics Pledge To Sabotage Biotech Crops
Posted On September 29, 2003

Opponents of genetically enhanced crops in England have begun a pledge drive whose signatories vow to "remove GM crops from the ground or support those who take action to remove GM crops." Some news accounts speculate that the campaign could garner tens of thousands of signatures and inspire "civil unrest."
Lets hope none of those signatures belong to Britons who travel to Africa or elsewhere in the Third World, where biotech crops might hold the key to feeding millions of starving people. In this case, as usual, the anti-biotech zealots are so busy scoring PR points that they seem to have forgotten the real-world impact of their scaremongering.

Luddite activists from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth (FoE) -- exactly the two groups one would expect to support this kind of criminal activity -- have already signed on. Greenpeace has a rich history of attacking biotech crops, but the involvement of FoE (which receives financial support from the Dutch and Swiss governments) is more interesting. The crop-destruction pledge campaign is run from a house in Oxford, which is rented out to environmental groups by something called the Ethical Property Company. And one of the four directors of this for-profit outfit is the current chairman of Friends of the Earth UK.

An anti-capitalist group called Corporate Watch is based in that same Oxford house. Its motto is an open invitation for violence against people: "The Earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses." A recent article in the trade rag for environmental saboteurs, the Earth First! Journal, began: "The Earth is not dying, it is being killed by corporations such as the biotechnology industries, and the people who are killing it have names and addresses."

[Get with the lunatics: http://www.greengloves.org
The Center for Consumer Freedom is run by PR firm, Berman & Co. Inc., formerly known as the Guest Choice Network. The Network was launched with $600,000 from tobacco giant, Philip Morris. Thanks to a whistle-blower, it's known Monsanto donated $200,000 in 2001. In January 2002 the Network relaunched as the Center for Consumer Freedom. Find out more:
2.Britain Set To Seal Future of GM in Europe
Sanjay Suri

LONDON, Sep 29 (IPS) - The future of GM crops in Europe has been in the balance for some time, but that balance is now tilted more in favour of the anti-GM lobby following the results of a government-sponsored consultation process last week.

The consultation showed a British public overwhelmingly opposed to genetically modified (GM) crops. That finding is now set to have major implications for a European Union (EU) policy on these crops, officials and activists say.

"Britain is working within the EU to develop a view on GM foods as the EU prepares to take a stand on the issue," Doug Parr from Greenpeace told IPS. "The results of the survey present a huge political problem for the British government. Many members of the British government are very enthusiastic about GM crops, and now it will be very difficult for them to go ahead with commercialisation of these crops."

The public opposition to GM crops means that politically Britain could be set for a head-on collision with the United States on this issue. "There is considerable pressure from the United States," says Parr. "We have documented cases to show that a lot of arm-twisting and bullying is going on. We know of these things happening with governments in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Egypt and many others."

Britain is in the forefront now of both scientific and public studies on GM crops. "Britain will play a significant role in setting EU policy, and the European Commission (EC, the executive arm of the EU) will rely considerably on Britain in setting its policy," Parr says. "So if Britain takes a more negative approach, it will have knock-on implications for the EU."

The government has not offered an official response to the report yet. But Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett has said she will reflect carefully on the findings of the debate. "We said that we will listen, and we will," she said.

The survey came up with critical pointers. It suggests that people are generally uneasy about GM; the more people engage in GM issues, the harder their attitudes and more intense their concerns; there is little support for early commercialisation; there is widespread mistrust of government and multinational companies; there is broad desire to know more and for more research to be done; and that developing countries have special interests.

It was a new kind of consultation where people could ask questions during interviews, open meetings and focus groups, and were given new information as they went.

The survey titled 'GM Nation?' first encouraged people to fill in a questionnaire, and 36,557 forms were returned. In all 54 percent said outright they never want to see GM crops grown in Britain. A further 18 per cent would find GM crops acceptable only if there was no risk of cross-contamination, and 13 per cent wanted more research before any decision was made. Only two per cent said that GM crops were acceptable "in any circumstances" and only eight per cent were happy to eat GM food (86 per cent were not).

The survey showed that as people were given more information about GM foods, their attitude against such crops hardened. The information was given by independent groups that sought to distance themselves both from the anti-GM lobby and from the champions of GM foods.

"There must not be any more weasel words from the government on this issue," says Pete Riley from Friends of the Earth. "It must stand up to U.S. and corporate lobbying, honour the findings of its own consultation, and rule out the commercialisation of GM crops."

The debate arose from a recommendation in a government report 'Crops on Trial' published in September 2001. It was jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Trade and Industry and the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"The Government is neither pro- nor anti-GM," Defra said in a statement. "It is genuinely open-minded. It wants informed choice backed up by sound evidence." The debate, it said, "was managed at arm's length from government by an independent steering board."

The consultation is expected to be a critical factor now in guiding debate and setting policy. The EU is expected to take a decision next year whether individual GM crops can be grown commercially. The consultation report has come as a considerable setback for Monsanto, the U.S. company that has taken the lead in developing GM crops, and for the U.S. government, which has backed the company closely.

Anti-GM activists are now preparing a new anti-GM campaign ahead of farm trials over GM crops under way. Three crops sown in spring are being monitored. The results of this survey will be published October 16 "and will then be considered by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), who will provide independent advice to ministers," Defra says in a statement.

There will further be a report from the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) on whether GM and non-GM crops can co-exist. The AEBC is exploring co-existence measures such as crop separation distances, and also looking at questions of liability, Defra says. This report is due shortly. (END/IPS/EU/DV/SC/GM/SS/RAJ/03)

3.Bayer says GM maize ready for planting in Britain
Mon September 29, 2003 11:18 AM ET [shortened]

LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Genetically modified (GMO) maize could be grown in Britain within two years if biotech firms get government approval for commercial plantings, leading UK player Bayer BAYG.DE CropScience said on Monday.

"If the government says 'yes' to commercial GM crops, then GM maize would be the first to be planted, although it would be some time before we see GM rapeseed and sugar beet -- maybe in 2006," Bayer's Julian Little told Reuters.

"It's possible that GM maize could be planted as early as next year, but this looks unlikely," Little added.  Little said the quantities of the gene-spliced maize planted would be relatively small and would most likely be used as animal feed.

The UK government is currently weighing up whether GM crops should be grown in Britain, but a final decision is not expected until early next year.

Little also rejected the notion that the UK unit of German chemicals giant Bayer was preparing to abandon GM technology in Britain following its decision to pull out of commercial trials.  "Bayer is not pulling out of the UK - we are committed to GM," he said.

The Cambridge-based firm recently told the government it would not be conducting any more commercial trials because environmental protestors kept trashing plants.

"The government turned down our request not to publish details of where the trials take place, so we've decided not to undertake any (commercial) trials this year," Little said.

Bayer CropScience said it usually conducts between six and 10 commercial trials a year -- essential if the company wants to apply to have the variety approved on the National Seed List.

Once on the list, the seeds can then be sold to farmers for commercial use.

"We're not saying that we won't start commercial trials again. We'll most likely restart them in a different climate," Little said.

Bayer 's GM herbicide resistant maize, Chardon LL, already has EU marketing consent.
4.Bayer gives up GM testing
Source: FWi
29 September 2003
By Farmers Weekly staff

BAYER CropScience has halted its GM crop testing in Britain.

The company's decision to stop growing GM crop trials comes in the wake of the results from the GM Nation? public debate.

Dr Julian Little of Bayer CropScience told the Daily Mail that the company hoped to restart trials if conditions became more favourable.  "We spend a lot of money doing trials on oil-seed rape. But if we are not going to get anything out of them because they are wrecked there is little point so this year we will not be doing any."

Until last week, Bayer had been in negotiations with the government to keep the exact location of its test sites secret, making public only vague descriptions of their locations.

But after careful consideration Margaret Beckett turned down the company's request on the grounds of "transparency".

The GM spokesman for Friends of the Earth, Pete Riley, has said Bayer's decision to quit growing GM trial crops will be warmly welcomed.  He added: "Attempts to grow GM crop trials in secret reveals a staggering contempt for public opinion and total disregard for farmers and beekeepers around the country who want to meet the huge demand for GM-free food."

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