ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

19 February 2002


1. more FSA-Grocer propaganda
2. Last Chance Rally: Oppose the GM farm-scale trials
3. Pro-GM conference in Cirencester
4. GMOs not a single issue campaign - Don't stop now!


1. more FSA-Grocer propaganda

if anything gives the lie to this survey, it has to be the bottom line! For  more on the FSA's agenda under Krebs:
February 16, 2002
The Grocer

Public anxiety over GM foods is waning, according to the latest survey into attitudes towards food commissioned by the Food Standards Agency.

Of 3,120 people interviewed in autumn 2001, only 5% spontaneously mentioned GM as a concern. The percentage of respondents who expressed concern only after being prompted dropped from 43% in 2000 to 38% in 2001. The results will be welcomed by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council set up last week to present the friendly face of GM to industry and consumers.

However, FSA chairman Sir John Krebs cautioned against reading too much into the figures, stating, "All the surveys over the past year and a half suggest public concerns over GM have diminished.  But this may be because there is not much GM labelled food on the shelves any more. What people are really waiting for is the result of the field scale trials next year."

...There was also a marked increase in awareness of and confidence in the FSA as an institution.


2. Last Chance Rally: Oppose the GM farm-scale trials

Saturday 9 March 2002
Stratford upon Avon Town Hall

10.30 am doors open
*11.30 am videos, information stalls and displays
*12.30 pm Speakers include Dr. John Latham (genetic scientist), Becky Price (GeneWatch), Helena Paul (Econexus), Local Food Roadshow slide show and talk.
* 2 pm procession led by samba band to coaches bound for nearby village of Long Marston

Rally at Long Marston (nearest GM farm-scale trial)
*Refreshments available at Long Marston Village Hall
*Information stalls and displays

Please bring banners and GM animal and vegetable costumes.

For further details contact 020 7272 1586


3. Pro-GM conference in Cirencester
Fears that Europe is being left behind as the world takes to GM crops
Yorkshire Post, February 18, 2002
Chris Benfield Science and Technology Correspondent

Fears that Europe will become an "island" of old farming practices in a world full of designer crops are growing after recent reports on the spread of GM technology. At least 15 countries, including China, Canada, the United States and Argentina, are now growing a wide range of genetically modified plants over a total area the size of Spain. The area has multiplied 30 times since the first commercial GM harvests, in 1996, and continues to expand rapidly. There is almost certainly a lot of unregistered planting too. It is likely that struggling farmers have taken GM seeds from Argentina into Brazil and Mexico, for example. Meanwhile UK farmers are restricted to small-scale trials, under licence, and the position is much the same in the EU as a whole. The Government has promised a review of the evidence at the end of this year - after a third year of harvesting for analysis only, from the trial plots - and the pro-GM movement says the startling change in the global picture will have to be taken into account.

The title of a conference being organised in Cirencester next month sums up their concerns: "GM crop adoption: is Europe being left behind?" Roger Turner, chief executive of the British Society of Plant Breeders and chairman of SCIMAC agri-business federation, which represents interests in GM technology, is one of those who thinks the answer is Yes. He says our farmers are already losing business because they cannot be as efficient as GM growers - in the production of beets for sugar-making, for example. ...But whatever is happening in China, the politicians of Europe cannot ignore an opinion poll which found that 70 per cent of their voters do not want GM foods in any form.


4. Don't stop now!

This was sent by Ben who's working on the latest issue of GEN's mighty Genetix Update.
A rant by Ben*

Anti-Genetics  a single issue?

It’s all to easy to look at things in isolation so it’s not surprising that people often regard anti-genetics campaigns as single issue. Nothing could be further from the truth - as regular readers of the Update will realise.

Genetics reveals the corrupt nature of government, science and the exploitative nature of global capitalism and so-called ‘free trade’. Many people have had their eyes opened to the bigger picture through their concerns and interest in genetic engineering. The very reason that genetics has been such a good issue to campaign around is not simply because it touches everybody's lives, but because it is a ‘gateway’ issue that inevitably leads people think more about what they eat, how it is produced and by who.

The anti-genetics movement has been instrumental in the surge in popularity of organic food and it has been a stepping stone for those attempting to tackle capitalism. Many campaigners have moved on to work on ‘bigger issues’ (think global) or looked closer to home in an attempt to ‘act local’. Others have burnt-out, crumpling in despair on realising just what we are up against. In this respect, the anti-genetics campaign is a victim of its own success. Of course it is not a bad thing that people have become more politicised by genetics. For many people working on genetics, that was the whole point. However it might be a good time to remind ourselves just how effective this ‘single issue’ is at being a stepping stone to other issues that are harder to campaign on. Let’s not neglect genetics just because we have bigger fish to fry.

Don’t stop now, they’re winning

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