Blair loves Borlaug / Bayer have only themselves to blame (31/3/2004)

Blair's words of praise for Norman Borlaug were recently circulated by AgBioView alongside those of CS Prakash and other luminaries. As John Vidal notes in today's Guardian, Tony Blair's apparent love of (the-Rachel-Carson-hating, pesticides-and-GMOs-loving) Big Norm is somewhat hard to acount for. Maybe Tony just loves anything beginning with 'b' - Bush (Dubya), Borlaug (Norm), Bayer (AG), Biotech (industry), Bullsh*t (Prof), Blair (Tony)...

1.Blair loves Borlaug + other Vidal tales
2.Bayer have only themselves to blame

Eco sounding
John Vidal
Wednesday March 31, 2004
The Guardian,7843,1181068,00.html

Norman conquest

Just who persuaded Tony Blair to congratulate Norman Borlaug on his 90th birthday? Few people outside the fevered GM debate know that Borlaug, an American Nobel prize winner in 1970, is known as the "father of the green revolution" and that for some years has been the world's most eminent pro-GM activist. But Blair is pleased to thank him, "on behalf of the government and the British people", for his "lifelong selfless devotion to the humanitarian cause of bringing the benefits of scientific discovery in food production to those most in need". Hmmmm.

It's a rap

We've had pro-GM Phillip Stott, a professor of biology at London University adapting Shakespeare, but now the indomitable CS Prakash, professor in plant molecular genetics at Tuskegee University who runs the pro-GM website, has got his son Rogan to literally rap the praises of Borlaug. Here's a sample:

"Norman Borlaug, you may be
the greatest man in history.
Using science and your brain
to stamp out hunger, woe and pain.
Creating new varieties
of plants with new technologies.
You're the man we look up to.
That is why we're thanking you."

The prof says he didn't write the words.

Instant whip

Weasel of the week award goes to Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon, who killed off the private members bill on GMs last Friday. This would have provided separation distances between crops, and compensation for farmers whose suffered losses from GM cross pollination. Gregory Barker, the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, was halfway through his opening speech when Dismore called for the house to sit in private, an obscure device that requires an instant vote. Labour ministers and MPs failed to go into the lobbies, leaving the Commons inquorate. The bill fell.

Bayer can't blame Government for GM maize withdrawal
Soil Association Press Release, 31 March 2004

The Soil Association today accused Bayer of being deceitful when they put the whole blame for their withdrawal of GM maize on the UK Government.  Peter Melchett, the Soil Association's policy director, said "Bayer are blaming their withdrawal of GM maize from the UK on 'regulatory hurdles' imposed by the British Government. In fact they have been caught out by their own, inaccurate hype.

"GM companies have always claimed that GM crops need less chemical sprays. In the three-year farm scale trials Bayer's GM maize was grown with the use of one weed-killing spray. But Soil Association research in the USA and Canada had already shown that GM maize grown commercially needed at least two weedkillers. Indeed, GM companies in America are even selling branded mixtures of weed killing sprays to farmers growing their GM crops, so they can hardly deny that several sprays are often needed.

"Unfortunately for Bayer, the British Government took them at their word, and said that their GM maize could only be grown using one weedkiller. Based on experience in North America, Bayer know that won't work in practice. In these circumstances, its really not surprising that Bayer have withdrawn the GM maize, effectively ending the prospect of any GM crops being grown in the UK for the foreseeable future."

For media enquiries contact Simon Toseland, Soil Association Press Office, 0117 987 4580 or [email protected]   


Back to the Archive