Gm crops take us down a scary road

I recently had the privelige of chairing two local public meetings during the recent tour of two North American farmers, Ross Murray and Moe Parr. After feeling somewhat demoralised by the NSW government’s ending of the GM crop moratorium last year, meeting these two farmers gave me new motivation to keep trying to hold back in the “race to the bottom” that is corporate-controlled, genetically modified farming.

Without trying to tell the whole story, there were a few key points which I thought I should share with you.

The first one, was a comment from Canadian canola grower Ross Murray that in the 13 years since the release of GM canola by Bayer and Monsanto, NO NEW VARIETIES have been released. This was interesting because pro-GM farmers I have spoken to say that the poor yield (0.7t/ha) of the GM canola compared to the non-GM canola (0.8t/ha) was because the moratorium stopped the release of newer and better GM varieties. But in Canada, there have been no new releases anyway. Ross beleives that the profits from the technology fees should be ging into new variety breeding, but its just going into corporate pockets. Anywa, Ross was clear on the poor performance of GM canola: “GM canola doesn’t yield more, it costs more to grow and now farmers in Canada don’t have a choice because non GM canola has been eliminated by genetic contamination.”

The second interesting point was from Moe Parr, a United States seed harvester for nearly thirty years. In 2007 he was sued by the bio-tech company Monsanto for “aiding, abetting and encouraging” farmers to break patent laws by collecting seeds from their crops for re-use in the next season. One point he made which was interesting was that in his lifetime, the number of seed companies in Indiana has gone from 60 to ONE! There may appear to be more companies, but he says that they are all now owned by one comany – and guess who? Like Ross, Moe said that “Because of contamination and monopoly control of seeds by bio-tech companies in the United States, it is almost impossible to go back to non-GM crops. “

Both farmers said that Australian farmers still had a choice whether they want to go down the GM path or not.But once there is a critical mass, which is what the companies want, this choice will be gone, due to contamination.