Are UK Media Soft on GM?

Something big happened a few days ago; we (the citizens, politicians, and regulators of the UK and the rest of the EU) received an open letter about the hazards of genetically modified crops. The letter organised by BeyondGMLetter From America has been signed by NGOs, groups, academics, scientists, farmers, food manufactures and high profile individuals representing nearly 57 million Americans. It’s still being signed, so the number may be higher now.

The letter details the problems with GMO that America is having and warns of the dangers if the UK and the EU follow the same path. It argues that health concerns remain over the safety of GM crops, most of which are grown in partnership with the powerful weedkiller glyphosate, also known as Roundup. Some animal studies have linked GM and glyphosate to damage to the liver and kidneys, reproductive abnormalities, and even tumours.

GM ingredients are now in 70 per cent of processed foods in the US. Critics point out that traces of glyphosate have been found in drinking water and the breast milk and urine of American mothers. Levels in the breast milk can be 1,600 times higher than is currently allowed in European drinking water.

The letter argues that GM crops have never delivered on promises to increase yields and profits or to decrease pesticide use. Pesticide use can be 24 per cent higher amongst GM farmers, which has harmed insects and bees. The population of the Monarch butterfly, for example, has dropped by over 80 per cent in some parts of the US. This is because Roundup kills milkweed, which is the Monarch’s key food source. There is also evidence that some weeds have mutated to become immune to glyphosate, making them difficult and expensive to remove.

The letter was presented at 10 Downing Street by Michael Meacher, Vivienne Westwood, Chef, Val Warner and MPs, Zac Goldsmith and Caroline Lucas and is signed by a host of celebrities. England, UK . 11.11.2014. London . Downing Street. Open letter handed in from 57 million Americans warning Brits of the dangers of GM food and farming.

The big concern is what has happened to the UK media? We know many UK politicians have been lobbied into believing that the benefits of GM outweigh the threats. However, we hope that the media would be at least unbiased in its coverage. It has been known to use headlines such as Frankenstein Food. So it can be argued that to ignore an event of this magnitude shows a bias towards GMO. Naturally the ecologist has covered it and we see that the Daily Mail and Express have covered this with an emphasis on the celebrity angle. But from a quick look it does seem that the mainstream media have largely ignored this.

In particular, the BBC seem to have taken a Pro-GM stance, if only by ignoring this event -are they scared of the pro-GM lobby? Whatever the reason it’s just not good enough!

As members of the Soil Association we passionately believe that organic is the answer to the world’s agricultural problems. Why would anyone even think about developing crops through genetic modification in order to allow farmers to spray them with more herbicides and pesticides? That can only result in harm to people as well as the ecosystem.

While on the subject of GM we thought we should promote the GM Free Me Campaign – click here and add your photo to this great campaign idea