Lies, corruption and vested interest driving GM in Oz (30/11/2007)

NOTE from Julie Newman: Lies, corruption and vested interest drives the push for GM crops. See [below] report 'The drive behind GM crops'... and please forward information if you have documented evidence of lies, corruption or vested interests to julie@non-gm-farmers.com or phone 08 98711562.

EXTRACTS: 'The stake VFF heavyweights have in new GM technologies is particularly interesting given the apparent influence the federation wields over policy and management of the issue. Company searches reveal that like McGauchie, Hards - who is also a representative on the federation's general council and on the Grains Council of Australia - also has directorship links to companies that could profit from GM.'

'But as Australia's chief scientist, the Howard government last year chose Dr Jim Peacock... Dr Peacock has founded the gene shears company Graingene Initiative, HRZ wheat consortium and a CSIRO partnered and patented GM cotton strain, genetically engineered to resist insects, regarded as his greatest triumph.'

Stocker undertook to approach David Penington, Mitchell to approach Gus Nossal and within something less than five minutes, the proposed company had four enthusiastic, potential partners/principals!


The drive behind GM Crops
by Julie Newman, 29 November 2007

Please note: This piece is a work in progress as more information is at hand. Thank you to those contributing. julie@non-gm-farmers.com or phone 08 98711562

It is of concern that farmers and consumers are not being told the truth about genetically modified crops but are being told whatever is needed to gain support by organisations that are normally trusted. The following report is a summary of the lies, corruption and vested interest behind this controversial technology.


Historically, the bulk of research and development of crops was undertaken by governments as a 'public good' service. Varieties were freely traded and the key reward for scientists was public acclaim through peer reviewed papers.

The UPOV '91 International Treaty was introduced to encourage investors to plant breeding by introducing a plant breeder right over newly produced varieties. A royalty was to be paid back to breeders but farmers did not lose the right to replant their own seed.

Living organisms have historically been excluded from patent laws as life forms were considered natural, not man-made. In 1980 a Supreme Court case Diamond v Chakrabarty narrowly decided that a strain of bacteria that had been modified to insert genes was patentable. In 1988, a Harvard University biologist was granted a patent for a mouse used for cancer research and it became the first animal to be considered an invention by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Corporate patent attorneys lobbied the Patent office that these 'products of nature' are patentable once they have been isolated to produce a form not found outside of a laboratory. This triggered a global gold rush for entrepreneurial scientists to apply for patents in order to claim exclusive rights to research and profits from thousands of different gene sequences. Interest has been sparked to patent genes from around the globe but international unity was required to recognise the patents.

International adoption of patented genetically modified crops was promoted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based on the 'common good' principles of the 'Life science concept' and the regulatory systems were to be 'science based'. International farming organisations signed a similar agreement to promote biotechnology and GM technology through the Cairns group.

Two GM traits were commercially released, herbicide tolerance (the crop is resistant to a specific chemical owned by the same company) and Bt (the plant produces its own Bt insecticide to kill bollworm and budworm). Despite numerous promises of new opportunities, after 13 years since commercial adoption of GM crops, the commercial varieties are still limited to the same two traits. Herbicide tolerance accounts for 68% of commercial varieties, Bt 19% and both traits 13%.

The GM industry recognised the shortfalls of GM crops in delivering the promised traits.

'In 1995 the private sector viewed crop biotechnology, prior to the commercialization of the first GM crops in 1996, as an important new opportunity for markets that would contribute to lowering crop production costs, increasing productivity, provide a safer environment and a more sustainable system for ensuring global food, feed and fiber security. Later in the 1990's the private sector judged the life science concept to be an inappropriate strategy for the future. There followed a series of spin-offs and mergers culminating in consolidation that resulted in six transnational North American and European based crop protection/biotechnology entities.' ISAAA 'Global Review of Commercialized Trangenic Crops: 2001' section 5, page 22. 'Global R&D expenditures in Crop Biotechnology and future GM crop markets.'

The drive for GM crops was redirected at forming alliances with plant breeding institutes rather than producing beneficial 'life science' traits but no acknowledgement of the change of stategy was noted by WTO, OECD or the Cairns group.

Genetically modified crops were unique as it allowed the patent of a crop where the introduction of a single gene to an existing variety gave ownership of the crop and its progeny. Farmers were denied the right to save their own seed and paid a 'user fee' to use the patented variety. Monsanto was a key investor in GM crops with the introduction of their Roundup Ready gene. The patent rights have been rigorously pursued and farmers have been sued for possessing GM genes either intentionally or unintentionally. A legal defence by Percy Schmeisser (Canadian farmer) challenged this assumption and the Supreme court ruled that the GM patent only covered the gene and if the trait (ie resistance to glyphosate) was not used, the patent was not enforceable.

Since adoption of GM crops, there has been an escalating consumer rejection of the products causing serious market issues for farmers. Farmers wishing to market as non-GM faced the responsibility of trying to keep GM crops from contaminating their non-GM crops. This problem was exacerbated with the contamination of non-GM seed stocks. All farmers marketed as GM unless special steps were taken.

US, the largest GM crop nation pays massive subsidies to farmers to counter higher costs and lower commodity prices. 80% of these subsidies are allocated to soy, cotton and corn (their GM crops). After Canada adopted GM crops, their net farm income plummetted to well below zero. After 7,000 farmers marched in the streets demanding subsidies

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