|THE WEEKLY WATCH number 62 - and monthly review (4/3/2004)|
from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor
There's some great news this week from the US, where residents of Mendocino County have voted to ban the cultivation of GM crops. The campaigners are certain it's just the first of many such bans that will be passed by local ballots.
I never thought I'd see the day where the US is leading the way in resistance to GM while here in Britain, our supposedly elected leader is preparing to drag us over the GM cliff.
But he's in for a rough ride. Reacting to comments by the UK prime minister Blair's spokesman that the government is to announce the commercialisation of GM maize, Greenpeace's Sarah North said: "Tony Blair has today picked a fight with the British people. Once again he's pushing a pet project in spite of the evidence. There are thousands of people ready to fight this decision in the fields, the streets, the courts and the supermarkets. Today is just the start of it - there could be chaos in the countryside.
"British farmers are already suffering, and the last thing they need is a new threat from a technology that shoppers won't touch. Blair is giving it the nod on the basis of flawed testing. If GM is sown in our fields he will reap a whirlwind of protest."
As George Monbiot said this week, "We can't rely on the Establishment to topple Tony Blair: we must do it ourselves."
GRASSROOTS VICTORY OF THE WEEK
+ MENDOCINO COUNTY BANS GM; BIOTECH INDUSTRY TO FIGHT VOTE
The biotechnology industry is considering a lawsuit or statewide legislation to nullify the successful Mendocino County ballot initiative. In the past, county efforts to restrict local use of agricultural pesticides have been voided by the state Legislature, and a similar fate could await the Mendocino County crop ban.
But activists in another California county, Humboldt, are already at work on an identical initiative and hope to gather enough signatures to qualify it for their local ballot in November.
Backers of Mendocino County's Measure H won almost 57 percent of the vote. "This is just the beginning of the revolution," said Els Cooperrider, an author of the initiative and co-owner of the Ukiah Brewing Company & Restaurant. "We're the first county in the US to prohibit the growing of genetically altered crops and animals, but we won't be the last."
They won even though they were outspent by a ratio of more than 6-to-1 by opponents, who raised more than USD600,000 - most of it from CropLife America, a trade and lobbying group representing the largest producers of genetically engineered seed in the world, including Monsanto, DuPont and Dow.
The measure's backers spent about USD100,000 in a mostly volunteer effort. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2784
+ NEW LABOUR SPIN OPERATION UNDERWAY - PUSH FOR GM COMMERCIALISATION
We were warned by recently leaked Cabinet documents to expect an onslaught of spin citing "science" and the "developing world", and we're certainly getting it.
We've had Lord Sainsbury's associate Lord Taverne (see below) extolling the "benefits" of GM for the world's poor, a Cabinet leak that commercialisation will go ahead, two written replies to questions in Parliament from ministers invoking the deeply flawed Nuffield report, and now news (see below) that Labour-supporting Prof Joe Perry has worked a statistical miracle.
The timing of the release of the statistics from Perry on Nature's website (see below) is obviously intended to distract attention from the Environmental Audit Committee's findings against GM commercialisation, to be released 5 March. This is clearly a New Labour spin operation at its most cynical.
The pugnacious Perry likes to parrot Patrick Moore in suggesting that the environmental movement has been taken over by communists and Trotskyites. Even after he was shown evidence of Moore's track record as an industry front man, Perry continued to make these claims. An evangelical Christian, as well as a "Scientist for Labour", Perry claims GM crops are in tune with God's will. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2790
+ SCIENTISTS BACK GM CROP FINDINGS