Note that this report, which argues that 'GM food avoidance policies' will become more expensive for farmers and the food industry, was commissioned by Agricultural Biotechnology in Europe (ABE), which is described in the press release below as 'a pan-European communications programme aimed at providing factual and science-based information about agricultural biotechnology'. In fact, ABE is a biotech industry lobby group whose members include Bayer CropScience, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta. It's interesting that that important piece of information is not disclosed in the press release.
The report's authors include Neville Craddock who was formerly with Nestle, the global food giant with an appalling record for unethical practices. Alarmingly, Craddock is also a member of the the UK's GM food regulatory body ACNFP.
One of the report's two other authors is Graham Brookes, a consultant whose customers for his previous GM reports have included Du Pont, American Cyanamid, the American Soybean Association, Novartis, ISAAA, Monsanto Europe, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Council whose member companies are BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta.
There is a striking congruence between the known goals of some of these organisations and the findings of the research they have commissioned from Brookes.
One report Brookes was involved in, which argued that GM crops coexisted successfully with conventional and organic crops in the United States, led to accusations that the company had misrepresented the findings of a survey of organic farmers in order to support its premise. The paper stated that claims by 'anti-GM groups' that GM and non-GM crops cannot coexist in North America were 'greatly exaggerated' and that coexistence measures had 'been delivering effective coexistence for nearly nine years'.
The conclusions of the PG Economics paper were heavily based on a 2002 survey by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). According to Ken Roseboro, the OFRF survey actually showed 'the exact opposite: that GM crops are starting to cause economic and operational hardships to organic farmers'.
Roseboro writes, 'The main problem with [the Brookes authored] findings is that they ignored the fact that the OFRF survey included organic farmers in areas where GM corn and soybeans are not grown . In fact, the survey had 1,034 respondents, but only 100 to 150 (ie a maximum of about 15%) produced corn or soybeans and were at-risk from GM crops.
'Farmers who live in Midwestern states, where the majority of GM corn and soybeans are grown, reported significant impacts. In these states, 70 to 80% of respondents reported negative impacts from GMOs. In addition, up to 88% of organic farmers in Midwestern states said they had to take some measures to protect their farms from GMO contamination. By quoting only the nationwide statistics the PG Economics authors, Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot, are able to minimise the problems caused to non-GM and organic growers .'
(Biotech, organic coexistence research paper skews facts to support dubious conclusion)
GM food avoidance policies to become more expensive, according to new report
Brookes West & Neville Craddock Associates
PG Economics, September 21, 2005
London, 21 September 2005: Delivering and maintaining non GM policies in the EU food and feed sector is set to become more challenging in the coming year. This is according to new research on the global GM market by three leading European agricultural and food experts.
The report, entitled "The Global GM Market: Implications for the European Food Chain. An analysis of labelling requirements, market dynamics and cost implications" (PDF 666 KB), identifies numerous food and feed ingredients in the food chain derived using genetic modification. It also concludes that the availability of non GM soybeans & derivatives from Brazil (the largest supplier) is likely to decline in the next 12 months, resulting in an increase in the price differential between non GM and GM soy - possibly reaching as much as 25%.
For livestock product producers (producing meat, milk and dairy products), this widening price differential, for a primary feed ingredient, could result in feed costs rising by between 6% and 10% in the next 1-3 years, and lead to a decrease in profitability of between 9%-29%. This level of loss is likely to be unsustainable.
For manufacturers of products such as cooking oils and margarines, their switch away from using GM derived ingredients has also been adding significantly (over 16%) to raw material costs. This level of additional cost is also set to continue for the next 1-3 years.
The report suggests that these additional costs and feasibility problems (currently largely absorbed by the supply chain), may be unsustainable and may cause many businesses to re-think their "GM-avoidance" policies.
"This is the first time that a serious attempt has been made to quantify the economic impact and feasibility of "GM-avoidance" policies. Many European food businesses which have chosen to apply these policies to their products are likely to be unaware of the extent to which many common food and feed ingredients are obtained from GMOs. These businesses should find the report thought provoking"; according to Graham Brookes, one of the co-authors of the report.
A full copy of the report can be accessed by clicking the title: "The Global GM Market: Implications for the European Food Chain. An analysis of labelling requirements, market dynamics and cost implications" (PDF 666 KB)
For more information contact:
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Notes to the Editor
1. This report examines the feasibility and cost of maintaining "GM avoidance" policies.
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