The USDA report, which was undertaken by their Economic Research Service, shows not only that GM crops do not increase yield potential but they may, in fact, reduce yields. The report concludes that "perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of GE crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative."
The recent "Seeds of Doubt" report from the Soil Association goes further and argues that genetically engineered soybeans, corn and canola have actually cost the US economy up to US$12 billion since 1999 through lower crop prices, loss of export orders, and product recalls. The exact amount, however, remains hard to guage because of the massive levels of subsidy.
Bate's exercise in misinformation, however, is as nothing when compared to the WSJ's own concluding burst of hype and hate: "Genetic modification has led to a healthier, more abundant food supply that is cheaper to produce and less stressful on the environment. Now that we have the means to feed Africa's hungry, who would've guessed that some would lack the motive?"
That's not apparently how Professor David King sees it, "Blair's chief
scientific adviser denounced the United States' attempts to force the technology
into Africa as a 'massive human experiment'. In a scathing attack on President
Bush's administration, Professor David King also questioned the morality
of the US's desire to flood genetically modified foods into African countries,
where people are already facing starvation in the coming months." The Observer,
UK, Sep 1, 2002
For how Bate and Morris take money from Big Tobacco to support their
attacks on industry's critics, see:
Why Africans Are Starving
Wall Street Journal
Green groups and European bureaucrats aren't conspiring to starve millions of sub-Saharan Africans, but according to Andrew Natsios of the U.S. Agency for International Development, they may as well be. Speaking at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg this month, Mr. Natsios said he's been unable to persuade Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa to accept food aid from the U.S., even though Southern Africa is facing its worst drought in a decade. The World Health Organization reports that famine-related deaths in the region could reach 13 million -- 2.4 million in Zambia alone. The U.S. has shipped 17,000 tons of corn to Zambia, where many are already down to one meal per day, only to have it sit in storage. Because some of the U.S. corn has been genetically modified -- to make it more resistant to pests, diseases and the region's harsh growing environs -- Mr. Mwanawasa has declared it unsafe for consumption. The green brigade, which likes to buttress its political opposition to GM foods with junk science, is cheering Zambia's intransigence. And the willingness of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the like to let Africans starve in the name of someone else's ideology is remarkable enough. But the Europeans are also blameworthy.
Zambia is just as worried about upsetting trade relations with Europe, its biggest export market. The European Union bans most GM crops -- lest they upset Europe's heavily subsidized farm system -- and Mr. Mwanawasa's concern is that the U.S. corn will cross-pollinate with non-GM varieties and taint future yields. The eco-lobby has targeted the Third World with a five-year, $175 million campaign against GM foods. The Sierra Club is calling "for a moratorium on the planting of all genetically engineered crops." Greenpeace says it "opposes all releases of genetically engineered organisms into the environment," an act it calls "genetic pollution." Supposed hazards include the spread of allergens and toxins and the creation of "superweeds" immune to herbicides. Science and experience have proven these fears to be unfounded. Biotechnology has had no ill effects on human health or the environment.
Gene-splicing technology dates back more than 30 years, and GM-products have been widely marketed in the U.S. for the better part of a decade. Today some two-thirds of the food products in American supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients. No superweeds, no allergies, no illnesses and certainly no fatalities have ever been linked to GM foods. While Europe's scientists reject the pseudo-science pushed by biotech opponents, Europe's protectionist trade policies effectively endorse it. Roger Bate of the London-based International Policy Network says this thinking is shortsighted. "The costs of agricultural products will continue to fall due to genetically modified food technologies, which are increasing productivity by 10% to 15% per year," says Mr. Bate. "Europe's subsidy programs will become that much more expensive, and their position on biotech that much more untenable."
Genetic modification has led to a healthier, more abundant food supply that is cheaper to produce and less stressful on the environment. Now that we have the means to feed Africa's hungry, who would've guessed that some would lack the motive?
"Asked if people were going 'too far' by saying that gene-altered humanitarian
exports were part of a strategy to spread the crops around the world, [Neil
E. Harl, a professor of economics at Iowa State University] said: 'I'm
not sure that is going too far.' "
"If the US insists on imposing this genetically modified maize on our
people, we will be justified in questioning their motive." Editorial, Dignity
in hunger, The Post, Zambia, July 30, 2002
"We have been pushed around by the way the Americans have put pressure
on this issue." EU development commissioner, Poul Nielson on the US food
"These governments have screwed up and are looking for someone to blame." Andrew Bennett, Monsanto's head biotechnologist in Johannesburg, Against the grain, The Weekend Australian, August 31, 2002
"It is highly unethical not to just cover the costs for milling. Tell
me how much it costs to drop one bomb on Afghanistan. Who is starving whom
here?" Carol Thompson, a political economist at Northern Arizona University
"...[African] government subsidies on maize production have been discontinued under pressure from the World Trade Organization [but] it now seems that it's OK for the starving here to eat subsidised maize, just as long as it is GM and grown in America." Andrew Clegg, Windhoek, Namibia in a letter to New Scientist
"Beggars can't be choosers." A State Department official, commenting
on southern African nations' resistance to accepting shipments of US food
aid containing genetically engineered ingredients
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