Farming in a GM wonderland
September 15, 2008
GM Watch’s Quiz 2
We’re off to see the biotech equivalent of the Wizard of Oz…
1. Many pro-GM commentators hail the technology as the solution to the current food crisis because of its ability to reduce fertilizer use and help farmers cope with problems like drought, salinity or flooding. After 20 years of GM research, how many GM drought tolerant, or salt tolerant, or flood tolerant, or fertilizer-reducing crops are there on the market worldwide? ANSWER: None.
2. There have been tens of thousands of articles in the world’s media about ‘miracle’ crops genetically engineered for enhanced appearance, flavour, nutrition, or to be allergen-free, or to combat problems like obesity or to contain edible vaccines that protect against major diseases like cancer. How many of these GM crops are there on the market worldwide? ANSWER: None.
3. When published in April 2008, which appraisal of global agriculture, sponsored by the World Bank and the U.N., and undertaken on a scale comparable to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that GM crops have at best variable impacts on yields and would not play a substantial role in addressing climate change, loss of biodiversity, hunger or poverty? ANSWER: IAASTD – International Assessment of Agricultural knowledge, Science and Technology for Development
4. More than 50% of the GM crops grown worldwide are farmed in the United States, and by far the most widely grown crop is herbicide-tolerant soyabeans. Based on U.S. Department of Agriculture trend data and numerous field studies, by roughly how much has GM soya increased yield for U.S. farmers compared to conventional (non-GM) varieties? ANSWER: Zero – it may even have decreased yields compared to non-GM varieties.
5. Who said the following about GM crops when promoting them as a solution to the food crisis? “We’ve been using them for 10 years in the United States and they have a proven effectiveness in increasing yields, in lowering the use of fertilizer, in providing better water and soil management and also increasing taste and appearance. So, you know, those are all good things.” ANSWER: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer.
6. What word did Prof. Dennis Murphy – the head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan, recently use to describe claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world? ANSWER: “Bullshit”.
7. Monsanto and its supporters claim that GM crops have been widely adopted in countries like the United States because of their economic benefits for farmers. Which organization in its review of GM crop cultivation in the U.S. commented, “Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of [GM] crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative”? ANSWER: USDA – United States department for Agriculture (USDA/ERS)
8. The Director of Corporate Affairs for Monsanto India says the increase in GM cotton acres there “bear testimony to the success of this technology and the benefit that farmers derive from it.” According to Washington University researcher Glenn Stone’s multi-year study of the behaviour of cotton farmers in a key cotton growing area of India, what underlay the rapid spread of GM cotton there? ANSWER: Seed fads.
9. The wife of which South African farmer who has been flown around the world by Monsanto to preach the benefits of GM cotton and detail how it has transformed his family’s life, admitted on camera that they made no profit from the crop? ANSWER: TJ Buthelezi
10. What was surprising about the posters that appeared in many places in Madhya Pradesh, India, featuring a man who said he’d gained great benefits from growing GM cotton and urging others to do the same?ANSWER: He was not a farmer.
11. Why was Gary Rinehart surprised to be publicly harassed over violating Monsanto’s patent on GM soybeans, and subsequently to have the company file a federal lawsuit against him? ANSWER: He was not a farmer.
12. What is the annual budget that Monsanto devotes to harassing, intimidating, suing – and in some cases bankrupting – American farmers over alleged improper use of its patented seeds? ANSWER: 10 million dollars.