Owen Paterson: ‘Anti-GMO stance of Green Blob, Greenpeace condemn poor to starvation, death

Speaking Tuesday in Pretoria, South Africa, former UK environment secretary Owen Paterson accused the European Union and Greenpeace of condemning millions of people in developing countries to economic dependency on aid, starvation and death by their refusal to accept the science behind genetically modified crops and other life saving advances in plant sciences.

Owen denounced what he called the “green blob” of officials and gullible media that misrepresent the consensus science, likening Greenpeace to the Luddites who smashed textile machinery in the nineteenth century. He accused the EU of “neo-colonialism at its worst” by restricting food production within its own borders.

Paterson said the world is on the cusp of a green revolution of the kind that fed a billion people in the 1960s and 1970s as the world’s population soared–but that revolution is threatened by well-meaning Westerners who he maintains are imposing their food “fetishes” on the developing world.

Here is the full text of Paterson’s speech to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA):

Thank you all very much.

Thank you, Doctor Obokoh for that kind introduction. It’s a great pleasure to be able to speak at the Annual South African agricultural biotechnology industry/ISAAA media conference. You are all doing so much important – indeed life-saving – work to bring the benefits of modern agricultural technology to this continent.

This is a time of extraordinary opportunity for Africa. Progress in the plant sciences is opening up the promise of a second Green Revolution, one that can not only feed the 9 to 10 billion people that will inhabit our planet in 2050, but feed them well – one that can finally end the shame of the nearly one billion who still go to bed every night hungry and malnourished.

It is a revolution, powered by cutting-edge science, that can drive economic development from the bottom up. I’m talking about authentic, indigenous growth – the only kind that really takes root… that empowers individuals … that breaks the cycle of aid and dependency and can make every nation on this Earth a strong, competitive player in global economic growth.

No place on Earth holds more promise in this respect than Africa.1 With its vast, and as yet underutilized resources of land, soil, water and sun, Africa is wonderfully situated to match or exceed the success of Brazil – a nation that agricultural development helped catapult into the front ranks of world trade – but it will only happen if African countries embrace farming systems based on modern technologies.

The Green Blob

This is also a time, however, of great mischief, in which many individuals and even governments are turning their backs on progress. It’s a strange time, really, in which the privileged classes increasingly fetishize their food and seek to turn their personal preferences into policy proscriptions for the rest of us.

Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organized, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves “progressive,” but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive.

They call themselves humanitarians and environmentalists. But their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. And their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques would decimate the Earth’s remaining wild spaces, devastate species and biodiversity, and leave our natural ecology poorer as a result.

I call them the “Green Blob” – a reference to a 1950s Sci-Fi movie starring Steve McQueen in which a blob-like alien attacks Earth and swallows everything in its path: the environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interest of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.

The Blob operates on two levels. First, by a pernicious grab for funding dollars with literally hundreds of them orbiting the honey pot of Europe. Secondly, with an ideological belief that Europe should abdicate its fundamental responsibility to feed its own people.

Neo-colonialism at its worst, Europe sits on some of the most fertile land on the planet, and yet imports food from the rest of the world which requires the equivalent of 35m hectares of farmland to produce.

There are many impediments standing between the vision of agricultural progress and Africa, of course, but none is more pernicious than the Blob. It is supported by massive funding provided by the EU itself,2 as well as numerous church and humanitarian groups, and the well-meaning but misguided generosity of the privileged classes in Europe and elsewhere. It has undue influence in the media, government and international institutions. Unfortunately, few question either its credentials or motives.

I will be speaking more about the Green Blob and how we need to push back and reassert the fundamental primacy of science. But first I want to talk about the good news – and there is a lot of good news to talk about.

The Good News About Biotech

As you know, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, ISAAA, has just come out with its latest report on the worldwide adoption of genetically modified crops. As before, it records a remarkable success story.

2014 was the 19th year of successful commercialization of biotech crops, 18 million farmers, of which 90 per cent were small and resource-poor, planted a record 181 million hectares of biotech crops in 28 countries.3

GMO-versions of food staples like potato in the United States and eggplant in Bangladesh have been approved for planting.

The United States continues to lead the way and saw a 5.5-fold increase in hectares of drought tolerant maize planted.

Biotech continues to be the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in history. During the 19 years GMO crops have been commercialized, we have seen a more than 100-fold increase in the area planted.

The facts also completely belie the propaganda that GMOs are only for the wealthy nations. In fact, more than 90 per cent of the farmers planting biotech are smallholder farmers in nations in the developing world.5 For the third year in a row, less developed countries planted more biotech hectares than the entire developed world.

Farmers are famously risk-averse. They know that the misapplication of resources can spell the difference between a bumper harvest and total crop failure. That’s why it’s even more remarkable that nearly 100 per cent of all those farmers who plant biotech crops have yet to go back to the old ways.6 They continue to choose to plant biotech year after year because biotech plants work. It’s really that simple.

ISAAA report a number of very heartening breakthroughs.

The drought-tolerant maize technology donated to Africa by Monsanto is expected to begin commercial planting in 2017.

Field trials have been given the go-ahead in Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda while trials have been conducted on a broad range of new crops, from biotech bananas to maize to cotton and cowpeas.7 One can certainly hope that as the trials reveal the dramatic benefits of GMO, these countries too will make them available to all their famers.8

They can certainly look to the success in South Africa, which is still the leader on this continent, with 2.7 million biotech hectares planted. But they might also take in the dramatic example of insect resistant Bt cotton in Burkina Faso, where farmers are rapidly and overwhelmingly embracing the efficiencies and improved yields represented by the GMO variety.9

By 2013, in fact, almost 70 per cent of all cotton grown in Burkina Faso was Bt, which increased farmers’ yields on average 20 per cent over non-GMO cotton. It has also dramatically decreased pesticide applications – which in Africa are often done by hand, a 40 to 80 pound backpack filled with older pesticides strapped to one’s back. Bt-cotton has cut those applications from 6 to 2 or fewer and delivers a solution that is eminently more effective.10

Within one season, Bt can transform the life of smallholder farmers, turning their farms into profit-making enterprises that allow them to send their children to school rather than out into the fields, and to buy their families enough to eat – and of course with better nutrition comes better health.

Even where farmers have voted overwhelmingly for a choice of GM technology and the benefits have been tested and demonstrated in numerous studies, the Green Blob has been tireless in myth making and misinformation. Take the allegations of Indian farmer suicides. Anti-GM green groups stated that the introduction of GM crops had brought about an increase of suicides among India’s farmers. It is imperative in the case of such tragedy to be accurate about causes if you are to help people driven to suicide.

Professor Ian Plewis from the University of Manchester clarifies that farmer suicide rates in India are similar to the best estimates of the rates in Scotland and France, around 30 per 100,000 farmers. While these rates are still tragic, they existed at the same level prior to the introduction of GM cotton to India. He states, “In fact, the available data does not support the view that farmer suicides have increased following the introduction of Bt cotton. Taking all states together, there is evidence to support the hypothesis that the reverse is true.”11

And in the global context, over 80 per cent of the world’s cotton crop has been GM for several years. The success of insect protected GM cotton has given Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, a new tool to boost their main economic activity: cotton production. Farmers have seen at least 66 per cent less pesticide applied, 20 per cent increase in yield, and at least $87 per hectare increase in their profit.12

Green Blob myths like “GM Indian Farmer Suicide” are retarding the adoption of new science in the developing world. Yet Africa is showing Europe the way.

In 2014 the 28 member states of the EU recorded 12 field trials of GM crops. This compares with 13 projects in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria.13 These three countries are doing more active biotech field research than the entire rich continent of Europe.

Four Anti-GMO Myths and the Truth About Biotech

Around the globe, in fact, the increasingly widespread adoption of biotech is exploding the myths of the anti-GMO campaigners. It is worth taking a moment to examine four of these myths, taking them one at a time:

Myth #1 is their recurrent implication that farmers are stupid, fooled by biotech companies into paying more for GMO seeds when they would be far better off without them. Well, I tend to think farmers have a pretty good understanding of their bottom line, and I can’t imagine any farmer – in my own country or in the developing world – spending one extra dollar, euro, pound, or rand that he absolutely didn’t have to spend.

As it happens, the most current and extensive research on the subject bears that out. A recent analysis of previous major studies – conducted by researchers at Germany’s Göttingen University, found that globally since their introduction almost two decades ago, biotech crops have increased crop yield overall by 22 per cent, increased farmer profits by 68 per cent, and reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 per cent. They also found that these yield and profit gains are the highest in less developed countries, not the industrialised countries.14

In other words, the supposedly dumb farmer of Blob mythology is actually a lot smarter than the Green Blob itself.

Myth #2 is that forsaking modern agricultural technology – going organic – will benefit the environment. The opposite is actually the truth.

A few years ago, another group of researchers at Stanford University in the United States found that without the advances in agricultural technology since 1960, we would need more than twice as much land to grow all the food we produce today.15 That’s almost two billion more hectares of ploughed land than today, more than the entire landmass of Russia, the largest nation on the globe spreading over nine time zones. Two billion hectares is more than twice the entire area of the United States. The equivalent of three Amazon rain forests.16

I can remember as a child seeing traumatic news bulletins with images of starving people on the Indian subcontinent. The father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug – “The man who fed the world” and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1970 – changed that by transferring wheat with new genetics from the Americas to the Indian sub-continent in the 1960s. India is now a major food exporter.17

Borlaug and others harnessed innovation to completely change the way we farm. For example, it has been estimated that the production of a given quantity of a crop now requires 65 per cent less land than it did in 1961. Between 1967 and 2007 world food production increased by 115 per cent but land use only increased by eight per cent.18 Indur Goklany has calculated that if we tried to support today’s population using the production methods of the 1950s, instead of farming 38 per cent of all land, we would need to use 82 per cent.19

As Borlaug said, “There are 6.6 billion people on the planet today, with organic farming we could only feed 4 billion of them. Which two billion would volunteer to die?”20

Agriculture always needs to balance our demands for more food whilst improving the environment and biodiversity. It is clear that sustainable intensive agriculture produces more food on less land, and therefore protects wild lands for wild life, for recreation, for urban development.

There is less pressure on land that is being used for wildlife and recreation. And the whole huge area generates tourism cash and employment for local economies.

In other words, modern agriculture – with its GMOs, nitrogen fertilizer and modern pesticides – has probably done more to save natural habitat, support biodiversity, and save endangered species than all the other environmental, NGO and UN conservation activities put together.

The Keystone Alliance, a collaborative effort of industry and conservation groups in the United States, has demonstrated the environmental benefits of modern agriculture on the micro-level as well. In each of the major crops studied, inputs of water, fertilizer and energy have been slashed and the environmental impact dramatically diminished at the same time that yields have skyrocketed.21

Maize yields, for instance, increased by 64 per cent in the 31 years between 1980 and 2011. Land use, however, decreased by 30 per cent, soil erosion by 67 per cent, irrigation water by 53 per cent, and energy use by 44 per cent.22

The revolution in no-till farming, was invented in the later 1960s a long time before GMOs. Modern herbicides and GMO crops have significantly extended its scope because farmers in many locations no longer have to plough the land to manage weeds. Tractor fuel is saved and topsoil is increasingly returning to its original structure and beneficial microorganism content and, in the United States, rivers and streams are spared the soil run-off that the EPA used to define as one of the top environmental problems in that country.23

And the most widely used herbicide in no-till – the glyphosate that NGOs so love to criticize – is enormously healthier for the environment and the humans and animals that live there than the chemistries it replaced. While glyphosate is indeed bad for weeds, its toxicity to animals is less than – not equivalent, but significantly less than – vinegar.24 Something to think about next time you dress your salad.

Which brings me to Myth #3: the insistence by anti-GMO campaigners that biotech crops are somehow unsafe to eat. It’s a claim they continue to hang onto in the face of many hundreds of studies testifying to GMO safety – the overwhelming majority of all the studies that have been conducted, a large number of them sponsored by governments and completely independent of industry.25

It’s a claim they persist in despite the universal opinion of every independent scientific institution globally, (including the European Commission!) that GMOs are as safe as any other food,26 and the fact that people in the United States have been consuming diets replete with GMOs for over 15 years now without one documented adverse health effect – not so much as a sniffle or a tummy ache.27 Even in Europe, overwhelmingly all the animal products produced – meat, milk, cheese, eggs – come from animals fed on imported GM maize and GM soya meal. Most European farmers have, for the last almost two decades, not been permitted to grow these crops – with the one exception of a single strain of maize.28 But European livestock farmers import millions of tons annually – without these imports currently the European livestock market would have collapsed.

In a rational world, a recent study out of the University of California Davis (one of the leading agricultural universities in the United States) would end the call for ‘animal studies’ of GMOs once and for all. The study compared health outcomes in over 100 billion cattle and other livestock before GMOs were introduced in 1996 and after – when quite quickly GMOs accounted for approximately 90 per cent of all animal feed. In effect, US livestock production has amounted to the largest animal feeding study ever conducted.29

And what was the difference in health outcomes found by the researchers? Zero. None. The animals were just as healthy after GMOs were introduced as before.

Of course, as with the other myths, the myth of GMOs’ adverse health effects isn’t just wrong – it’s the inverse of the truth.

Generally ignored, for instance, is the widespread problem of mycotoxin contamination, often the result of insect chewing and especially boring into the growing crop, which allows the entry into the plant of fungal pathogens. The problem afflicts a wide range of foods and feed, such as maize, sorghum and peanuts.30 Without doubt, many mycotoxins are most effectively controlled by planting GMO crops engineered with Bt insect resistance.31

The FAO estimates that up to half of some food crops are affected.32 Globally, it is estimated that more than five billion people in the developing world are exposed to these naturally occurring toxins, which can suppress the immune system, retard growth and cause cancer and liver disease in both livestock and humans.33 In Africa, the rural poor are chronically exposed to unsafe levels of these poisons. In 2003, 120 people died in Kenya after eating maize with very high aflatoxin levels.34

In the industrialized nations, organic growers have long sprayed with spores of the whole Bt bacterium to control for insects. This organism occurs naturally in the soil, after all, and has proved safe for mammals and humans. But when scientists engineered a plant that produced one protein found in the Bt cells as a part of its built-in defenses, the Blob fought tooth and nail to deprive the developed world of its benefits.

In a nationally funded trial conducted at the respected University of Milan, two varieties of maize were involved. Compared with conventional maize, Bt-maize not only increased yield by 28-34 per cent, but reduced the fungal toxin fumonisin from 6,000 parts per billion in the non-GMO maize to 60 parts per billion or less in the Bt-maize. The conventional maize containing over 6,000 parts per billion was unfit for human consumption under both Italian and European law. Despite the health implications, these results were shamelessly suppressed by the activist influenced Italian government which organized it.35

Once again, the myth is turned on its head: it’s not GMOs, but the anti-GMO Green Blob that is the real danger to human health.

Myth #4 is that biotech is only good for farmers and has no consumer benefits. Once again an inverse of the truth. I count increased protection of wild lands by focusing production sustainably, and cheaper food, as being fundamentally important “consumer benefits”. There are more specific examples too.

Biotechnology has already given us soybeans with higher oleic acid that don’t produce cholesterol-elevating trans fats when heated.36 Currently, a new biotech tomato is being tested that mimics good cholesterol.37 Tomatoes are coming with high concentrations of cancer-fighting anthocyanins.38 Non-browning apples have recently been approved by US regulators, which should potentially greatly reduce waste through less spoilage.39 Healthier GMO potatoes have also been approved40 and peanuts are currently under development that lack two of the most intense allergens that pose such a danger to so many of our children.41

Only ten days ago, I was in Canberra and saw real progress on oilseed crops that will provide a sustainable source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids providing better nutrition to humans and farmed fish. 42,43 This could stop the obscenity of feeding huge numbers of farmed fish with wild fish.

In addition, in future, it might be possible to have the oil yields of oil palm replicated and even exceeded from GM broad acre crops that contain oil in their leaves and stems.44 So GM developments in oil producing plants could help save vulnerable orangutan habitats encroached by palm oil plantations.

Few people know that the first biotechnology product approved for food was rennet, an enzyme used to make cheese. Today, 90 per cent of the cheeses we eat use GMO rennet because it’s safer and more effective.45 GMO-enzymes are routinely used in the production of bread, wine and beer.

All the insulin routinely used to keep diabetics alive is from GMO-bacteria. Previously insulin was produced from the pancreases of cattle and pigs. A single diabetic would require the pancreases of 50 pigs for a year’s supply. Before GMO-bacteria produced insulin, one major industrial insulin producer processed eleven tons of pig’s pancreases every day – from a daily slaughter of 100,000 animals.46 Unfortunately, hugely promising GMO techniques that could protect yoghurt starter cultures from infection have been kept off the market due to fear of consumer backlash.47

Perhaps the most promising development, however, is biofortification, especially for the developing world, where so many lack the nutrients essential for health and well-being.

Golden Rice, Greenpeace and the Anti-Humanitarians

The flagship biofortified technology was developed 15 years ago by two German Professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer. Called Golden Rice, it is a miracle grain enhanced with vitamin-A-producing beta-carotene. In 2001 the inventors donated the technology as a potential additional intervention for vitamin A deficiency, for development and deployment by the public sector in developing countries so that it could benefit the poor of the world.48

Absence of a source of vitamin A in the diet, vitamin A deficiency, is the principal cause of childhood blindness globally, affecting 500,000 children annually of which half die within a year or two.49 Vitamin A deficiency is also a nutritionally acquired immune deficiency syndrome, so common diseases which should be survivable are lethal. Two million young children die as a result every year.

So let’s be clear. Although these deaths are preventable, 6,000 children alive today will be dead tomorrow. (By comparison Ebola has tragically killed about 9,000 in the last year: about 25 a day.)

Many of those millions of lives could have been saved if Golden Rice had been available in their diet, and it could have been already for several years, but for the on-going opposition of well-financed anti-GMO activist groups and their ceaseless campaign to frighten people and pressure governments to keep Golden Rice off the market.

The leader of that opposition, with a combined global war chest estimated to exceed US $500 million, has been Greenpeace, with its combination of highly sophisticated PR and un-scientific scaremongering.

Greenpeace originally claimed Golden Rice wouldn’t work, but once its efficacy had been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, they switched to saying that the poor should simply buy vitamin supplements and eat fresh vegetables instead50 – as if families living on less than $2 a day can afford such luxuries.

But Greenpeace doesn’t content itself with mere PR.

In 2013, an organization in the Philippines who lists Greenpeace amongst its partners, used a tactic that has been used all over the world by Greenpeace – violently attacking and destroying agricultural research they oppose.51 The group, known as MASIPAG, claims to be a “farmer-led network,” destroyed a field trial of Golden Rice. But local officials reported that the thugs who attacked the fields had been bused in from the city.52

Shamefully, Greenpeace isn’t alone in its support for the MASIPAG anti-GMO eco- terrorists. MASIPAG’s list of supporters reads like a directory of misguided European church and government sponsored social justice and development groups. Perhaps one should put the words “so-called” before social justice. A short list of MASIPAG’s funding sources include:

  • The Swiss Catholic pastoral development group known as The Fastenopfer Catholic Lenten Fund;53
  • Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, which receives financial support from the German government;54
  • The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, which is funded by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs;55
  • Trocaire, the official development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, which receives funding from the Irish, UK and EU governments;56It should be stressed that MASIPAG is just one of a proliferating network of anti- GMO groups and assorted activists that are operating in the developing world, often with NGO and EU support.

In 2011 Greenpeace attacked GM wheat in Australia which was part of exciting research to enhance the health benefits of this staple food crop. It was heartening to observe the very widespread backlash and condemnation by the Australian community against this criminal vandalism of trusted research. On 14 July 2011, the CSIRO Experimental Station at Ginninderra in Canberra was broken into and research plants were cut down. Some of the GM crop trial plots were partially destroyed. Greenpeace admitted liability. This incident was investigated by the Australian Federal Police and two Sydney women were charged in relation to the incident, and both women later pleaded guilty to charges of damaging Commonwealth property. On 1 August 2012, CSIRO received a reparation payment of $282,560 from Greenpeace. In November 2012 the two women received a 9 month suspended sentence, to be of good behaviour for 12 months with $1,000 security, for each defendant.57

The question must be asked, when did so many of our “humanitarian” organizations become so disdainful about the lives of the desperately poor, whom they are supposed to be helping? How long have they been putting ideology over humanity? Do Greenpeace supporters understand that the conduct of the organization that they give to has been truly wicked?

Patrick Moore, one of the early leaders of Greenpeace in the 1970’s when it took account of science and respected human life, has broken with his old organization for just this reason. He now works to expose Greenpeace’s actions in the developing world and has joined with Golden Rice inventor Ingo Potrykus in calling for the organization to be tried for crimes against humanity.58

So I say to my friends in Europe and in the United States: next time some young volunteer stops you on the street to ask for money for Greenpeace, ask them about Golden Rice. They’ll want to talk about all the polar bears and whales they claim to have saved, but ask them instead about the millions of children that their organization is helping condemn to blindness and early death.

It should also be recognized, however, that there are some humanitarian and environmental groups that are coming to recognize the important role that biotech can play in alleviating human suffering and spurring development. I’m thinking particularly of organizations such as Oxfam and the Nature Conservancy, whose initial opposition to GMOs has softened in the light of the overwhelming scientific evidence of their efficacy and safety. It’s time for these organizations to step up and show leadership on this urgent humanitarian issue.

Where also are the UN organisations WHO, FAO, UNICEF – all with nutritional improvement and development mandates? They have recognized the scourge of vitamin A deficiency as a very major – and cheap to control – problem for the last 25 years. Undoubtedly current interventions have saved millions of lives. But VAD (Vitamin A Deficiency) induced preventable deaths continue, and now, as a result of Golden Rice, the half of the world where rice is the staple could benefit from a free nutritional trait. But, cowed by activist polemic, these huge and capable institutions have chosen not to believe in science.

Here is my plea to them: You have rejected the world of activist myth for scientific fact. Now use your moral authority to appeal to your colleagues in the NGO community. Convince them to do the right thing and support giving the developing world the GM tools it needs to feed its growing, and too often malnourished, population.

The EU’s Retreat From Science

Of course, the greatest offender of all is the European Union itself, which in a twisted version of neo-colonialism has imposed its affluent organic affectations and anti-scientific policies on Africa.

The Kenyan-born Calestous Juma, professor of the practice of international development at Harvard Kennedy School, is a former executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, who has repeatedly slammed the EU for strong-arming African nations not to grow GM crops and threatening to cut off imports if they dare to assert their independence.59

I am proud that when I served as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, we were able to convince the European Council of Ministers to change European policy so that now individual countries can decide for themselves whether to plant GMOs or not. This is a significant reform. I hope that when we look back over these years it will prove to have been a watershed moment, as nation after nation in Europe seizes the enormous opportunity offered by this exciting technology.

But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that one reform will solve the problem. The EU’s retreat from science has become more like a rout. Just last November, the incoming president, Jean-Claude Juncker, refused to renew the contract for the professor of cell biology, Anne Glover, who had been so ably filling the role of the Commission President’s scientific advisor.

For months, Greenpeace and other NGOs had been conducting a concerted campaign against Professor Glover, largely because of her outspoken, science- based support of GMOs. In response, some forty leading scientific organizations and over 770 individuals sent a letter in support of Professor Glover and her position.60

It is emblematic of Europe today – once the birthplace of modern science and home to many of its greatest achievements – that the anti-science know-nothings won the day. And to think that the Lisbon treaty was meant to ensure that Europe developed a knowledge-based economy! No chance when scientific evidence is only merited with the same influence as public opinion, which as we have seen, is so easily influenced by political activists.

The European retreat from science is often dressed up as the precautionary principle, which has the advantage of sounding “sciency,” but is in fact neither science-based nor by any legitimate definition a “principle.” It’s more like an impulse, or reflex, as clichéd and inept when it comes to the serious work of regulation as saying “better safe than sorry.” No one can really define it adequately. The best its advocates can do is say that if something could possibly cause harm, ban it.

Former Greenpeace UK director Stephen Tindale now urges Europe to “move on from the theological dispute with respect to GMO crops”.61

Everyday, activists warn us of “risks”. But everything, everywhere and always, could cause harm. You can drown in an inch of water. Coffee in large enough doses causes cancer. And let’s not get started on cell phones.

The EU finds itself in the ridiculous position that, according to its own pesticide regulations, it would have to ban coffee – and beer, and a thousand other consumer items – if they were sprayed on fields rather than sold in grocery stores.62

The precautionary principle is so broad it effectively gives regulators the cover to ban or restrict anything at whim or according to whomever is exerting the most pressure. In other words, it replaces science-based regulation with politics. This drives the limits on the amount of pesticides in tap water, set at 0.1 parts per billion – the equivalent of one paracetamol tablet in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.63

We also saw the precautionary principle in action with startling clarity in the battle over neonicotinoids, or neonics, which activists accused of causing a “bee- pocalypse,” an imminent extinction of bees. Large-scale field studies and massive real-world science do not back up this claim.64 The EU’s own science didn’t back it up. Even at its most basic level, it was faulty: bee populations aren’t falling at a rapid rate. They’re not falling at all. For the last two decades that neonics have been on the market, bee populations have been rising, both in the EU and around the world.65

But the Green Blob was fierce on this one. I myself personally received 85,000 emails; very few of them were complimentary. Insisting, as we did at DEFRA, that policies be based on science – and the science did not support a ban – wasn’t a popular position. Nor was it, as we know, the winning position. The EU Commission, as is its habit, caved in to the activists. Working with allies, I ensure that they couldn’t muster a qualified majority for a ban among the member states, despite holding two votes on the issue. But democracy only goes so far in Brussels. So EU officials simply took it on themselves to make the final decision. They overrode their own scientists and banned neonics starting at the end of 2013.66

The result was predictable. I say that because it was indeed predicted by farmers and others who said the ban would remove their best defence against insect pests and force them to use older, less effective pesticides that are worse for bees. Which is precisely what has happened: despite multiple sprayings with pyrethroid, England’s oil seed rape crop has been devastated, with losses over 40 per cent in some counties.67 Europe as a whole is looking at a 15 per cent reduction in rapeseed this year as a result of the ban.68 Another example of the precautionary principle creating realised risks.

Just recently this scandal developed further – some have called it Beegate – when a blogger in Brussels by the name of David Zaruck uncovered a memo that had mistakenly been left on the web by one of the scientists who was most vocal in pushing for a ban. That memo – the minutes of a meeting held back in 2010 – detailed in their own words how he and other leading scientists working for the EU-funded “Task Force” on neonics conspired to manufacture studies to support a ban.69 Perhaps one should put the word “scientists” here in quotes. Deciding on the outcome of your research before you even conduct it is not how science is supposed to be done. But we have apparently entered a brave new world in the EU where everything is backward.

For instance, there’s the startling fact that the “technologically advanced” EU, which boasts incredibly fertile soils and extremely friendly climates for agriculture, cannot even feed itself and has been reduced to becoming a net importer of food.70

What that means, of course, is that we simply export our environmental footprint elsewhere. It also means Europe is not only not contributing, we are a net drag on humanity’s foremost imperative in the 21st century – growing enough food to feed everyone on this planet, and to feed them well.

Today, nearly 805 million people do not have enough to eat, about one out of every nine people in the world. The majority of them are children, who will never have the same chance at a good life as others because hunger will stunt their development, shrink their innocent capacity for hope, and leave their small bodies prey to any number of terrible illnesses.71

One in three children in many developing nations today has been stunted by hunger. Sixty-six million attend school classes hungry every day. Poor nutrition causes nearly half of all the deaths of children less than five years of age – over three million children every year.72

This is the state of affairs that the EU’s precautionary principle would effectively preserve.

The world population is seven billion today and will burst through the ten billion mark by 2050 or sometime soon after. Not long ago, one of our English celebrities was delivering a petition to our Prime Minister protesting against genetically modified foods. Being a famous and wealthy fashion designer, apparently, has given her particular insight into this field. In the process she was asked by a BBC interviewer what she would say to those who can’t afford to eat the high-priced organic food she recommends. Her answer was simple. They should simply “eat less.”73

Too many of our fellow human beings are already eating less. I don’t believe that we, as Europeans, can really say that we belong to a humane society, a decent society, until every single one of them has access to good, nutritious food. Until every human being on this planet has enough to eat.

That means that somehow we have to get right again with science. We need every possible tool available to meet this challenge. We simply cannot afford to take the most promising plant technologies off the table and keep them locked away in the regulatory drawer while children continue to go hungry.

Many centuries ago, science pulled the European continent out of the Dark Ages and established a whole new concept – one of on-going human progress.

In our own time, the extraordinary science promoted by one-man, Norman Borlaug, accelerated that progress in the plant sciences just in time to save over a billion people from mass starvation in the 1960s and 70s. That was called the Green Revolution. We stand today at the beginning of a second Green Revolution – a period of extraordinary breakthroughs that can do the job if we let them.

We must let them. Despite the flack. Despite the propaganda. Despite the political setbacks we sometimes encounter. We must all push forward.

Myth versus fact; Green Blob versus Green Revolution. There is literally no challenge today that is more important. I commend African Nations for showing Europe the way.
I am sure that science will overcome superstition.
I am confident that together we will all succeed.
Thank you very much.


1 For example, see: World Bank Report: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTARD/Resources/sleeping_giant.pdf, see also Financial Times, 15 December 2013, Africa offers growth potential on a vast scale, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fa46d61c-574e-11e3-9624-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3RNZX5lCe.
2 http://ec.europa.eu/budget/fts/index_en.htm; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10978678/Owen-Paterson-Im-proud-of-standing-up-to-the- green-lobby.html
3 http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/pressrelease/default.asp
4 Ibid
5 Ibid
6 Ibid
7 http://www.nepadbiosafety.net/subjects/biotechnology/status-of-crop-biotechnology-in-africa
8 Ibid. 9http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/biotech_country_facts_and_trends/download/Facts%20an d%20Trends%20-%20Burkina%20Faso.pdf
10 See for instance, Krishna VV, Qaim M (2012) Bt Cotton and sustainability of pesticide reductions in India, Agricultural Systems, Volume 107, pp 47–55, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X11001764. For a general overview, see: isaaa.org/resources/publications/biotech_country_facts_and_trends/download/Facts%20and%20Trends %20-%20Burkina%20Faso.pdf; http://www.idrc.ca/EN/Resources/Publications/Pages/ArticleDetails.aspx?PublicationID=666
11 http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-does-gm-cotton-lead-to-farmer-suicide-in-india- 24045
12 http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/belmont2013/papers/ASA2013Greenplate.pdf
13 http://gmoinfo.jrc.ec.europa.eu/gmp_browse.aspx
14 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629
15 http://www.pnas.org/content/107/26/12052.full.pdf+html
16 http://greenstate.tv/resources/detail/saving-natural-habitat-and-preserving-species-the-story-of- modern-agriculture
17 https://www.agra-net.net/agra/public-ledger/features/analysis-indian-food-export-boom-targets- african-markets-457337.htm
18 An overview of the effects of the Green Revolution is here: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/pubs/pubs/ib/ib11.pdf
19 Goklany IM (2002), Comparing 20th Century Trends in U.S. and Global Agricultural Water and Land Use, Water International, Volume 27, Number 3, Pages 321–329, http://goklany.org/library/Water%20International%202002.pdf http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=sTXbAAAAMAAJ&q=indur+goklany+82+%+38%&dq=indur+g oklany+82+%+38%&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rcfBUaG1KsaCPabwgLgI&ved=0CDAQ6wEwAQ
20 www.normanborlaug.org/knatvig/FOREWORD_Kendall.doc
21 http://www.ceres.net/News/Events-WAG-PDF/Resources/Keystone-Field-to-Market__01122009.pdf 22 https://www.fieldtomarket.org/report/national-2/PNT_SummaryReport_A17.pdf
23 http://www.savingtheoasis.com
24 http://weedcontrolfreaks.com/2014/06/salt-vinegar-and-glyphosate/
25 https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/11/26/glp-infographic-all-gmo-research-is-industry- funded-biofortified-analysis-sets-record-straight/
26 http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/08/29/are-gmos-safe-global-independent-science- organizations-weigh-in/
27 For a review of these issues, see: http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/71/1/2.full
28 MON810

29 Van Eenennaam A L & Young AE (2014), Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations, Journal of Animal Science, 92: 10, pp. 4255-4278, https://www.asas.org/docs/default-source/jas-files/final.pdf?sfvrsn=0

30 For instance, see: Kankolongo MA, Hellb K and Nawac IN (2009), Assessment for fungal, mycotoxin and insect spoilage in maize stored for human consumption in Zambia, J Sci Food Agric, was approved for use in the European Union in 1998. Since then, six countries have grown it and six countries (Austria, Hungary, Greece, France, Luxembourg, and Germany) have banned its cultivation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MON_810 http://www.aflasafe.com/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=524558&folderId=772841&name=DLFE -4702.pdf

31 Bowers E, Hellmich R, Munkvold G (2014) Comparison of Fumonisin Contamination Using HPLC and ELISA Methods in Bt and Near-Isogenic Maize Hybrids Infested with European Corn Borer or Western Bean Cutworm. J. Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 62:6463-6472.

32 http://www.fao.org/docrep/U3550t/u3550t0e.htm
33 http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/aflacontrol_wp04.pdf
34 http://aatf-africa.org/files/Aflatoxin-brief.pdf
35 Nature Biotechnology, (Editorial) Another inconvenient truth, Vol. 25, Number 12, December 2007, p. 1330, http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v25/n12/full/nbt1207-1330.html
36 http://www.gmo- compass.org/eng/news/519.usa_new_gm_soybean_higher_oleic_acid_content_approved.html
37 https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/03/21/modified-tomatoes-mimic-actions-of-good- cholesterol/
38 Zhang Y., Butelli E., Martin C. (2014) Engineering anthocyanin biosynthesis in plants. CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY 19:81-90.
39 Forbes, 13 February 2015, USDA Just Approved Apples That Don’t Turn Brown http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-13/apples-that-don-t-brown-approved-for-u-s- planting?hootPostID=efcdecba0c732423c39765f7e2a39774
40 http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrymiller/2015/01/07/claims-for-organic-agriculture-need-more- sunlight-less-shade/print/
41 http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/11/peanuts-with-le/
42 Petrie J, Nichols P, Devine M, Singh S: Engineered oilseed crops with fish oil DHA levels. Inform 2013, 24: 648-652
43 Betancor MB et al (2015), ‘A nutritionally-enhanced oil from transgenic Camelina sativa effectively replaces fish oil as a source of eicosapentaenoic acid for fish’, Sci.Rep. 5, 8104; DOI: 10.1038/srep08104
44 Vanhercke T, Tahchy A, Liu Q, Zhou XR, et al, (2014) Metabolic engineering of biomass for high energy density: oilseed-like triacylglycerol yields from plant leaves. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 12: 231-239
45 https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/04/29/cheese-the-gmo-food-that-even-die-hard-gmo- opponents-eat-and-love/
46 Renneberg, Biotechnology for Beginners
47 http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/41676/title/There-s-CRISPR-in-Your-Yogurt/ 48 Dubock A (2014) The politics of Golden Rice, GM Crops & Food: Biotechnology in Agriculture and the Food Chain, 5:3, 210-222, DOI , http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.4161/21645698.2014.967570
49 World Health Organisation, Micronutrient deficienciesVitamin A deficiency, http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/vad/en/
50 http://www.allowgoldenricenow.org/the-crime-against-humanity
51 http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/greenpeace-attacks-canberra-gm-wheat-crop- 20110714-1hflf.html; http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/greenpeace-gm-crop-attack- declared-legal-698440.html; 52http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/08/26/golden_rice_attack_in_philippines_anti_gmo_a ctivists_lie_about_protest_and.html?original_referrer=http%253A%252F%252Ft.co%252FXWJCWm VTCF 53http://www.fastenopfer.org/data/media/dokumente/projekte/11_12_projekte_unterlagen/philippinien/ Allgemeine%20Unterlagen%20PHILIPPINEN.pdf.pdf
54 http://www.misereor.org
55 http://blogs.nature.com/news/2013/11/swedish-scientists-decry-government-links-to-anti-gmo- vandals.html; http://cso.sida.se/Project/Index/79844; http://cso.sida.se/?text=masipag&FrameworkOrganisationId=&SectorGroupId=&CountryCode=&targ etY ear=&btn=Sök&SearchOrExport=Search
56 http://masipag.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Food-Security-and-Farmer-Empowerment.pdf; http://www.trocaire.org/our-funders
57 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-15/scientists-condemn-greenpeace-gm-cull/2795482
58 http://www.allowgoldenricenow.org/the-crime-against-humanity
59 Independent, 3 June 2013, Europe’s GM stance denies Africa the right to feed itself, warns leading academic; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/europes-gm-stance-denies-africa-the-right-to- feed-itself-warns-leading-academic-8641327.html
60 The Guardian, 13 November 2014, Juncker axes Europe’s chief scientific adviser http://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2014/nov/13/juncker-axes-europes-chief- scientific-adviser
61 http://www.cer.org.uk/insights/genetically-modified-crops-time-move-theological-dispute 62http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/06/11/less_risk_more_bodily_harm__100392.html
63 Anderson (Report), The effect of The Loss of Plant Protection Products on UK Agriculture and Horticulure and the Wider Economy, hehttp://www.nfuonline.com/andersons-final-report/
64 http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/04/11/science-collapse-disorder-the-real-story-behind- neonics-and-mass-bee-deaths/2/, and http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/02/05/bee-deaths-reversal-as-evidence-points-away-from- neonics-as-driver-pressure-builds-to-rethink-ban/
65 http://www.agprofessional.com/news/bee-population-rising-around-world
66 http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84472
67 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/article4227789.ece http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/bees-and-pesticides.aspx
68 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-08/bugs-invade-europe-as-save-bees-cry-spurs-pesticide- ban.html
69 http://risk-monger.blogactiv.eu/2014/12/02/iucn’s-anti-neonic-pesticide-task-force-an-expose-into- activist-science/#.VKxA5Fqp3wx
70 http://www.science20.com/agricultural_realism/should_world_keep_feeding_europe-113562
71 World Food Programme, Hunger Statistics, http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats
72 Ibid
73 The Daily Telegraph, 12 November 2014, Vivienne Westwood: People who can’t afford organic food should eat less http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11225326/Vivienne- Westwood-People-who-cant-afford-organic-food-should-eat-less.html 55 Tufton Street London SW1P 3QL www.uk2020.org.uk [email protected] @_UK2020

  • RobertWager

    Awesome speech

  • Guest

    percent of GMO crops are designed to be Roundup ready. What that means
    is farmers can spray Roundup weed killer DIRECTLY onto crops that will
    be turned into the food that you and your family eat. That’s right.
    These crops that are turned into food that finds its way to your dinner
    table, have been genetically modified so that they can be sprayed
    directly with Roundup poison and survive. The poison is absorbed
    internally into every cell of the plant. It is then harvested, processed
    into food, and you eat it. So in other words, you are eating the
    poisoned plants that have been designed to survive being poisoned. Think
    about that. Does this sound like a good idea to you?

    Roundup is
    made up of glyphosate and surfactants. One of the surfactants used
    Roundup are chemical compounds called siloxanes. Siloxanes are used in
    pharmaceutical drugs to penetrate the cell wall and get the drug into
    the cell more effectively. Glyphosate and siloxanes combine in Roundup
    to create a new molecule that is a hydrophobic substance. This new
    molecule is much more toxic to bacterial cells than Glyphosate alone and
    easily penetrates the bacterial cell wall.

    Prior to 2005, the
    formulation for agricultural grade Roundup produced was roughly 300
    times more toxic than Glyphosate alone. In 2005 the surfactants were
    modified to include more powerful siloxanes, which created an even more
    toxic formulation than the previous permutation. After 2005 Roundup
    Weathermax Two is roughly one thousand times more toxic than Glyphosate
    alone. In addition to the newly added siloxanes, oxalic acid was added
    as an adjuvant to make roundup work faster. Oxalic Acid speeds the
    glyphosate into plant and allows it to penetrated very quickly,
    delivering the glyphosate deep into the tissue of the plant.

    chemical concoction is designed to kill microbial inner structure of
    plants. It’s designed to kill microbes. And guess what? More than 90%
    of the cells in your body are not your own and THEY ARE MICROBES. They
    are friendly microbes that you are dependent on in order to stay alive.
    Without them, you die. These microbes that you depend on for your very
    life are the exact microbes that Roundup Weathermax Two was designed in a
    lab to kill. When you eat GMO food laced with trace amounts of this
    poison, it attacks those microbes. Roundup residue on the food you eat
    is literally killing the microbes within your body that you are
    dependent on for survival.

    What we as a society have the good
    fortune of having this toxic concoction of chemicals that is much more
    toxic than glyphosate alone being sprayed directly on to crops that we
    convert into food that we eat. There have been precisely zero studies
    done as to the toxicity of the entire Roundup formulation on mammals.
    ZERO. Tests have only been carried out on the primary ingredient
    glyphosate alone. And in addition to that, there have been precisely
    ZERO studies of the toxicity of this concoction to mammals when
    chronically exposed at low levels as most people in the United States
    are. If you live in the United States and consume GMO food on a daily
    basis, which most people do, you are ingesting trace amounts of Roundup
    Weathermax Two every single day.

    If you eat foods that contain
    wheat, corn, soy, canola, or sugar and they are not organic you are
    eating the toxic herbicide Roundup Weathermax Two. This is a fact.

    has never been one single safety study carried about by anyone to
    determine if ingesting trace amounts of Roundup Weathermax Two every
    day for years is harmful to your health. These tests have never been
    done. NEVER. If you are eating GMO food, then you are the experiment.
    You are the lab rat who may get sick, may develop cancer, or may die
    from chronically ingesting this poison.

    You are the lab rat.

    • Arthur Doucette

      Because Feeding Trials have been done on the END PRODUCT.
      The end product is the crop produced using Round-Up as the herbicide.
      No harmful effects have been shown.
      In 20 years.
      In anyone.

    • I understand your concerns but assure you that they are misplaced. Every year we in The UK and all over the world treat millions of hectares with glyphosate (supplied in a variety of salts) for the benefit both of us and the wider environment. There is no substantiated evidence that there are any unexplained detrimental effects. Protest if you will but please seek the advice of plant biologists with more experience and a better understanding of the biochemistry involved before taking such a dogmatic stance and spreading more misunderstandings.

    • Antumbra

      I’m a little annoyed – because you reminded me that a poster a while back made a rather lovely description of how plants are essentially chemical weapons platforms and I can’t find the blasted thing…

      Eloquence aside, I’d be perfectly happy to juggle several babies over a pit of Roundup, while riding a nuclear-powered unicycle. Alternately, in lieu of babies, I could substitute bags of golden rice and apples with glowing needles sticking out of them?

      I suppose the point is, you may think that we’re figuratively lab rats – but your actions are literally killing us.

  • JMac

    Ninety percent of GMO crops are designed to be Roundup ready. What that means is farmers can spray Roundup weed killer DIRECTLY onto crops that will be turned into the food that you and your family eat. That’s right. These crops that are turned into food that finds its way to your dinner table, have been genetically modified so that they can be sprayed directly with Roundup poison and survive. The poison is absorbed internally into every cell of the plant. It is then harvested, processed into food, and you eat it. So in other words, you are eating the poisoned plants that have been designed to survive being poisoned. Think about that. Does this sound like a good idea to you?

    Roundup is made up of the primary toxin glyphosate and surfactants. One of the surfactants used Roundup are chemical compounds called siloxanes. Siloxanes are used in pharmaceutical drugs to penetrate the cell wall and get the drug into the cell more effectively. Glyphosate and siloxanes combine in Roundup to create a new molecule that is a hydrophobic substance. This new molecule is much more toxic to bacterial cells than Glyphosate alone and easily penetrates the bacterial cell wall.

    Prior to 2005, the formulation for agricultural grade Roundup produced was roughly 300 times more toxic than Glyphosate alone. In 2005 the surfactants were modified to include more powerful siloxanes, which created an even more toxic formulation than the previous permutation. After 2005 Roundup Weathermax Two is roughly one thousand times more toxic than Glyphosate
    alone. In addition to the newly added siloxanes, oxalic acid was added as an adjuvant to make roundup work faster. Oxalic Acid speeds the glyphosate into plant and allows it to penetrated very quickly, delivering the glyphosate deep into the tissue of the plant.

    This chemical concoction is designed to kill microbial inner structure of plants. It’s designed to kill microbes. And guess what? More than 90% of the cells in your body are not your own and THEY ARE MICROBES. They are friendly microbes that you are dependent on in order to stay alive. Without them, you die. These microbes that you depend on for your very life are the exact microbes that Roundup Weathermax Two was designed in a lab to kill. When you eat GMO food laced with trace amounts of this poison, it attacks those microbes. Roundup residue on the food you eat is literally killing the microbes within your body that you are dependent on for survival.

    What we as a society have the good fortune of having this toxic concoction of chemicals that is much more toxic than glyphosate alone being sprayed directly on to crops that we convert into food that we eat. There have been precisely zero studies done as to the toxicity of the entire Roundup formulation on mammals. ZERO. Tests have only been carried out on the primary ingredient glyphosate alone. And in addition to that, there have been precisely
    ZERO studies of the toxicity of this concoction to mammals when
    chronically exposed at low levels as most people in the United States are. If you live in the United States and consume GMO food on a daily basis, which most people do, you are ingesting trace amounts of Roundup Weathermax Two every single day.

    If you eat foods that contain wheat, corn, soy, canola, or sugar and they are not organic you are eating the toxic herbicide Roundup Weathermax Two. This is a fact.

    There has never been one single safety study carried about by anyone to determine if ingesting trace amounts of Roundup Weathermax Two every day for years is harmful to your health. These tests have never been done. NEVER. If you are eating GMO food, then you are the experiment. You are the lab rat who may get sick, may develop cancer, or may die from chronically ingesting this poison.

    You are the lab rat.

    • Arthur Doucette

      Tests are done on the END PRODUCT.
      The end product is the crop produced using Round-Up as the herbicide.
      No harmful effects have been shown.
      In 20 years.
      In anyone.

      • gefreekamloops

        Nobody is addressing the fact that these formulations are being changed to be stronger and more detrimental to human microflora. So essentially the formulations are not the same as they once were. Exponential growth means that the effect gets more profound each year therefore we are seeing an explosion of issues now. How long will it take to correlate the damage already done. Chronic disease takes time to manifest and therefore its difficult to pinpoint what is the root cause. Certainly healthy gut bacteria is essential to our health. This community would know more about that than I do and yet nobody attempts to clarify this point.

        • RJB

          Please cite your sources for your claims.

          • gefreekamloops

            Safety tests are based on Glyphosate alone but that is not all that is in Roundup. Can we agree that new molecules are possible when new chemical compounds are introduced, and that we may not know what the effects will be. Nobody seems to comment on the microbe issue. I’m not an expert on biology but I get that its microbes that digest my food and not stomach acid.

          • RJB

            It is not possible to agree to anything that is not clearly defined or based at all in science. What are your sources?
            There is plenty of discussion of human GI microflora in the (legitimate) scientific literature.

          • gefreekamloops

            Are the tests based on the synergistic effects of Roundup or just Glyphosate.

          • Jeff Leonard

            Gefree, I searched Pubmed (the legitimate source for scientific research papers) for ‘Weathermax’, a formulation that someone above was making wild claims about. There were 15 papers that popped up. That alone would seem to discount your claim that research is not done on formulations. If you are genuinely interested in the impact of formulations, I would suggest that you start there

          • Arthur Doucette

            What you don’t understand is that most of the additives are not absorbed by the plants, but none the less, you CAN’T use an additive that has not been tested for safety.

          • gefreekamloops

            I was referring to the synergistic effects. You say safety tests are done on an individual basis but that does answer the question. It is well known that drugs can be deemed safe but when taken with other drugs prove fatal. Could this not be the case with additives.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Synergistic effects are actually rare, and virtually non-existent for ingredients which are non-toxic.

            But regardless, you can’t possibly do a feeding trial on a new crop with every other possible ingredient that exists.

            The fact that NOBODY has ever shown any negative impact from eating GMO crops shows your concerns are not warranted.

            You are welcome to your paranoia, but it is yours alone.

          • gefreekamloops

            non toxic at the levels deemed acceptable by the EPA…the estimated residue that remains on the crop. However is it not possible for bioaccumulation. I just can’t see how this was proven to have occurred with DDT but we are saying that this can’t happen with Glyphosate or whatever is actually in Roundup.

          • Arthur Doucette

            The levels deemed acceptable by the EPA are 1/100th the level that shows NO OBSERVABLE EFFECT in the most sensitive species tested.
            And the tests included up to 2 years of ingestion of glyphosate.
            So no bioaccumulation.

            Re DDT.
            It was our FIRST insecticide.
            Science was much less mature back then.
            It was introduced 30 years before the EPA was even formed.
            We have learned a lot in the last 60 years.
            Which is why we would never approve something like DDT today for widespread use, but you act though, like we are still back in the 50s.

            We aren’t.

          • gefreekamloops

            Its like we always seem to be naive when it comes to synthetic chemicals and nature. When I was a kid there was still leaded gasoline and cigarettes didn’t cause cancer. I truly hope that we have learned the lessons of the past but I don’t see us doing anything better. I am no Luddite but I certainly think we need to find a balance between high tech and low tech lest we might do ourselves in.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Well then you must be pretty old because On January 11, 1964, the Surgeon General released the first report on Smoking and Health. But that was based on more than 7,000 articles relating to smoking and disease already available at that time in the biomedical literature. So well before the 60s, we KNEW that smoking caused cancer. By 1965 the govt mandated warning labels on cigarettes.
            For several days, the report furnished newspaper headlines across the country and lead stories on television newscasts. Later it was ranked among the top news stories of 1964. So if you were a 14 year old kid in 64, then you have to be ~64 years old.

            The first warnings of adverse health effects of lead at low doses were raised by Clair Patterson, a geochemist. In hearings before the Senate Committee on Public Works in 1960. Senator Edward Muskie raised the question of adverse health effects from airborne lead. The EPA was formed in 1970 and the phasedown of lead in gasoline began in 1974 when, under the authority of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced rules requiring the use of unleaded gasoline in new cars. Other older cars had to get by on low lead fuel and so by 1985 the average lead content was reduced from 4 to 0.5 gram/gallon, and totally gone by 1995.

            Table 20. Age-adjusted death rates for selected causes of death (All persons)

            For Years 1996 – 2000 – 2005 – 2010
            All causes………………. 894 869 815 747
            Diseases of heart……. 286 258 217 179
            Cerebrovascular …….. 63 61 48 39
            Malignant neoplasms. 207 200 185 173
            Respiratory diseases. 41 44 44 42
            Flu and pneumonia…. 33 24 21 15
            Liver disease/Cirrhosis. 10 10 9 9
            Diabetes mellitus……… 24 25 25 21

            SEER Cancer Statistics

            SEER 9 areas (San Francisco, Connecticut, Detroit, Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, Seattle, Utah, and Atlanta). Rates are per 100,000
            and are age-adjusted to the 2000 US Std Population

            Rank – Site – Rate per 100,000 in 1999 vs Rate in 2011

            ALL SITES 490.5 ==> 453.6 (7.5% decline)

            Prostate 183.5 ==> 139.9
            Female Breast 141.5 ==> 129.6
            Lung and Bronchus 65.8 ==> 55.5
            Colon and Rectum 55.5 ==> 39.3
            Corpus and Uterus, NOS 25.3 ==> 27.05
            Urinary Bladder 21.8 ==> 20.1
            Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 19.9 ==> 19.6
            Melanomas of the Skin 18.3 ==> 22.7
            Ovary 14.7 ==> 12.1

            Life Expectancy

            Year – Both- Male – Female – % Increase
            2012 – 78.8 – 76.4 – 81.2
            2010 – 78.7 – 76.2 – 81.1 – 1.2%
            2005 – 77.8 – 75.2 – 80.4 – 1.0%
            2000 – 77.0 – 74.3 – 79.7 – 1.6%
            1995 – 75.8 – 72.5 – 78.9 – 0.5%
            1990 – 75.4 – 71.8 – 78.8 – 0.9%
            1985 – 74.7 – 71.1 – 78.2 – 1.4%
            1980 – 73.7 – 70.0 – 77.4 – 1.5%
            1975 – 72.6 – 68.8 – 76.6 – 2.5%
            1970 – 70.8 – 67.1 – 74.7.

            So YES, we are doing MUCH better.
            The Science is MUCH better.
            Why you don’t see it is the only mystery.

          • gefreekamloops

            Thanks for taking the time to write all of this down. I guess I didn’t realize that the phaseout had already begun so early. But it kind of illustrates the point that something known to be toxic will be tolerated for a long time because we have based our economy’s on their necessity. I don’t know how lead, a known neurotoxin, was allowed to be added to fuel when it would have been known that people would be breathing the fumes filling up their tanks and it would be present in exhaust. It should have been stopped before it started.
            If it came out today that Glyphosate was causing digestive disorders would we ban it immediately or begin to phase it out. I’m sure it would be phased out to give the company time to reformulate and change marketing strategy.

            It’s great that cancers are on the decline in these cities. But what about the exponential growth of neurological disease, obesity, alzheimers, autism. What is causing these diseases if not chemicals in food and the air? Is it the chemical soup we live in now. Heart Disease from Obesity is now the number one killer…is GM corn syrup and sugar beet sugar which are added to 80 percent of packaged food a contributing factor. Compelling data seems to say so.
            I think its great that we are living longer, but often what i’ve observed is that older folks death is prolonged with surgeries, drugs and expensive palliative care. Not exactly the extra years I would want.
            Science is certainly able to process more data now but its not science that is corrupt but the Corporations who’s mandate is a mathematical formula: grow marketshare or die.

          • Arthur Doucette

            As far as lead in gasoline.
            In 1950, there were about 40 million cars in the US, but they were driven a LOT less as suburbs were just starting to be built. So no, the small amount of lead was not seen as an issue. By 1960 though it was, and by 1970 the EPA was formed and one of the first things it did was begin the phase out of lead. So we are talking about steps taken nearly a half century ago.

            We have come a LONG way since then.
            The advent of the commercial computers in the 70s and its widespread availability in the late 80s fundamentally changed our ability to both compile and analyse data and tease out small trends, do large scale epidemiological studies etc, that essentially were not possible before. Health databases that began in the 80s are now providing wealth of information to researchers on the impact of lifestyle, habits, diet, weight etc on our health.

            First of all, the chances of glyphosate causing a problem to our health is nearly nil. Unlike back in the 70s, we now have built in LARGE margins of safety on our use and potential consumption of pesticides. For Glyphosate in particular, they did extensive tests on all sorts of animals, and then based on the MOST SENSITIVE animal, they found that Maternal Rabbits exhibited slightly loose stools at 360 mg/kg/day after months of eating it laced in their food. So they used the level that was HALF of that dose, that showed NO OBSERVABLE SYMPTOMS (NOEL) or 175 mg/kg as the Reference Dose.

            Then they divided that by 10, to 17.5 mg/kg in case humans were more sensitive to it then the most sensitive species they tested.

            Then they divided that again by 10, to 1.75 mg/kg in case the most sensitive humans were sensitive to 1/10th the average.

            Then using that figure, they set the Maximum Residue Levels such that no matter what you ate, you couldn’t consume more then that 1.75 mg/kg. To do that they assumed that everything you ate was sprayed with glyphosate and all of it was at the MRL.

            The REALITY, based on actual measured concentrations of glyphosate on food is a rather small person would need to eat ~60 lbs of average plant based food a day to get to that level.

          • Arthur Doucette

            There is no evidence to support your claim that they are on the increase exponentially.

            Nor is there any evidence that that is a US phenomena compared to say the UK, where they don’t eat GMOs.




            As to quality of life as we age, maybe the best indicator of that is suicide rate for the elderly.

            If you were correct, and we were worse off now than we were, then one would expect an increase in suicide rate.

            But that’s opposite of what we see:


            Indeed the Elderly are significantly cutting the rate at which they kill themselves.

          • gefreekamloops

            I hope you’re right about this data, but I’m still skeptical because just as the passage of time proved other compounds to be toxic time will tell if the science was right about our current standards. But still there is something that is causing an exponential growth in Autism and other neurological diseases and it has been shown that poor absorption of nutrients from lack of gut microflora could explain the manifestation of this disease. So if its not agricultural chemicals or new proteins from Genetic Engineering then what is so different now about what we are ingesting?

          • Arthur Doucette

            As to Autism, The CDC doesn’t know if it is actually increasing or we just get better at diagnosing it, as well as broadening the definition. (we now refer to it as Autism Spectrum Disorder, and it indeed covers conditions that previously would not be included, such as Asperger’s)

            We are getting better at seeing what seems to increase your risk of it however.

            Living in an area with high levels of air pollution may increase a woman’s chances of having a child with autism.

            “Women who were exposed to the highest levels of diesel or mercury in the air were twice as likely to have a child with autism
            than women who lived in the cleanest parts of the sample,” study author Andrea Roberts, a research associate with the Harvard School of Public Health,

            August 2012, a study released in the journal Nature showed that older fathers increased the risk of Autism. A previous study had found that that it was older moms who elevated the autism risk. The chances of having a child with the disorder increased by 18 percent for each five-year increase in maternal age.

            A study published in early 2011 found that children conceived less than 12 months after the birth of an older sibling were three
            times as likely to be diagnosed with autism as their peers.

            These three taken together are very important because mothers have been both delaying the birth of their children, but also
            spacing them closer together as a result of the delay in having them.

            The number of industrial chemicals with known links to neuro-developmental disabilities like autism has more than doubled in the past seven years, according to new research published in The Lancet Neurology.

            Researchers believe widespread exposure to these chemicals among children may be contributing to the number of people with neuro-developmental disabilities.

            Based on an analysis of previous studies, researchers added new toxins to a list of chemicals believed to pose a threat to
            the brains of fetuses and young children: manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos,
            tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

            While chemicals like manganese and fluoride, common in drinking water, are rarely found in high enough concentrations in the U.S. to pose a health threat, other chemicals on the list are more common.

            “Chlorpyrifos is an organic pesticide … 10 years ago it was banned for household use, but it is still extensively used in agriculture and can be found in lots of Organic fruits and vegetables,” study co-author Dr. Philip Landrigan, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City

            Tetrachloroethylene, which has been linked to deficient neurological function and increased risk of psychiatric diagnosis, is a common solvent used in dry cleaning. Another chemical on the list, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, is a type of flame retardant frequently found in couches.

            These chemicals have been added to a list of five other neurointoxicants – lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls,
            arsenic, and toluene – first identified by Landrigan and his co-author, Dr. Phillipe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public
            Health, in 2006.

            The researchers acknowledge that increasing rates of conditions like ADHD and autism are also partially due to increased awareness about these conditions.

            Problems with a key group of enzymes called topoisomerases can have profound effects on the genetic machinery behind brain development and potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to research published today in the journal Nature. Scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have described a finding that represents a significant advance in the hunt for environmental factors behind autism and lends new insights into the disorder’s genetic causes.

            Most of the known topoisomerase-inhibiting chemicals are used as chemotherapy drugs. “That’s really motivating us to move quickly to identify other drugs that have similar effects, so that pregnant women can avoid being exposed to these compounds.”

            So most of these chemicals are ones we are actively trying to get out of the environment, or reduce people’s exposure to.

            Cerebellum injury and autism risk

            Princeton researchers note studies showing that babies who sustain injury to the cerebellum before or during birth have a starkly higher risk of autism. (See graph at right.) They also reference studies showing that the cerebellum is the most frequently disrupted brain region in people with autism.

          • gefreekamloops

            These chemicals could certainly explain an increase in Autism and I agree that they probably do however it doesn’t explain the fact that these disorders improve significantly when the Diet is improved to remove pesticide free and processed foods. I’ve looked after a kid with Autism who ate processed foods all his life. If the claim is that it is damage to the brain than improving diet wouldn’t improve the symptoms but there is compelling evidence that it does.

          • Arthur Doucette

            You’ll have to provide a scientific study that shows this “compelling evidence” that you can improve the Autistic behaviors simply by a change in diet. I’ve seen no such study, and a search of the reputable Autism sites don’t reveal any that make that claim, and of course if you could, that would be HUGE news.

    • Antumbra

      Roundup is one of the safes-

      Ah, forget it. Don’t take it from me.

      Take an introductory biology course instead, it should clear up the misconceptions you have.

      Or, alternately, it may just be that you don’t really understand how to estimate human costs, evaluate risk, determine validity or gauge bias. That’s understandable – it’s essentially the same common lack of critical thinking skills that anti-nuclear types make. I suppose… that would require, possibly some general philosophy of science?

      In either case, make absolutely sure you talk to the lecturer about it – when you’re trying to examine a world-view you must live-test it against the strongest representatives you can find.

      • gefreekamloops

        What do you mean by estimate human costs?

        • yeegads

          The majority of the chemical in Roundup applied in the US (call it 150mm gallons, give or take) is applied as burndown (before the crop is planted) and also ‘in crop’ before flowering.

          There is an extensive Legal Document called a Label that prevents over the top application of corn over 36″ and Soybeans at growth stage R2. (flowering, but no pods) the stuff never touches the grain. In Addition, roundup spraying is done in the corn belt in july, harvest, and a bunch of weather happens before Harvest a couple months later. there are ‘pre-harvest’ intervals for weed control in a farming emergency, but they range from a week to longer. On almost zero acres.

          Mammals are not legal to spray. its just not done.

          straw dog arguments made by those ignorant of real ag. In 20 years, no Roundup has been sprayed on anything in your salad.

          The safest stuff in the biz, sprayed at 32 oz per acre so a quart of the juice spread over 43,000 square feet. (a football field) it can only harm plants that are converting sugars.

          Look it up the LD50 is (much) lower than caffeine, vinegar and salt

          all for under $5 an acre!!! the stuff is awesome!!

  • JMac

    So if anyone wants to show me the long term study of chronic exposure of mammals low levels of Roundup Weathermax Two I would REALLY like to see it.

    And make sure the study was on the full formulation that was introduced in 2005 with Oxalic Acid and the new more powerful Siloxanes. Where can I find this study? What is the name of the study? Where was it conducted and by whom? Thank you in advance for this information.

    I’m anxiously looking forward to reintroducing Roundup Weathermax Two back into my diet. My hyperthyroid and psoriasis may return but if the study gave it the thumbs up then maybe I should just go for it! Yeah! Totally psyched now! Awesome!!!!!!

    • Arthur Doucette

      They don’t have to do studies on ingredients not found in the grain you eat.
      Got anything to indicate that the Oxalic acid or Siloxanes from the Round-Up are found in grain?

  • At last a politician prepared to stand up for the vast amount of scientific evidence which supports the use of this well established technology. Those who continue to deny the adoption of these breeding techniques to us as well as more importantly the almost 1 Billion people who suffer from an inadequate supply of foods would do well to consider the massive advantages we, the human race need to embrace. Please would the luddites get off the line so we in agriculture embrace the science.

  • Wackes Seppi

    Mr. Paterson
    is wrong to compare the anti-Gmoers with the Luddites. The latter
    had a cause of action. The former do not. Except if you consider
    that maintaining and furthering the interests of their organization
    is a valid interest.