GM Free Cymru

Environment Minister's "naive acceptance of GM fairytale"

Press Notice from GM-Free Cymru December 11th 2012

Environment Minister Owen Paterson has been accused by a leading watchdog group of naively taking on board "a bedtime GM fairytale" told to him by biotechnology corporations.

The group, GM-Free Cymru, is intrigued by the government's latest push on GM crops via a high-pressure media campaign over the last few days. Spokesman Dr Brian John says he is not really surprised by this turn of events, since it is known that the Government has had high-level secret meetings with representatives of the GM industry over the past few months (1). "And it is always the case," he says, "that government ministers tend to cosy up to big business interests when times are tough, regardless of what the best interests of the public may be."

The group now points out that Mr Paterson is not just ill-informed about GM issues, but that he is guilty of blatant hypocrisy in claiming that the Government stance is science-based. In fact, says the group, the evidence on the ground and in the science literature shows that Mr Paterson is "out with the fairies" on virtually every point he has made to the media.

* He claims that GM crops are good for the environment, whereas the Government's own farm-scale trial programme a few years ago showed that GM crops actually damage the environment. These findings have simply been ignored by the Minister. (2)

* He claims that GM crops increase yields, whereas the evidence from around the world shows that GM crop yields are decreasing steadily. Where crop yields have increased, these increases are always associated with conventional breeding traits rather than with introduced GM traits. (3)

* He claims that GM crops prevent disease, whereas in reality both herbicide tolerant GM crops and BT crops are now associated with nightmare scenarios as superweeds develop herbicide resistance and as insect pests also adapt to the introduced GM traits. (4)

* He claims that British hostility to GM technology is waning, whereas polls show that opposition to GM consistently runs at about twice the level of GM support in the public at large, and a recent BBC Countryfile poll showed that 79% of respondents do not want GM crops to be grown in Britain. (5)

* He claims that pesticide use drops when GM crops are introduced. That is a lie, and research shows consistently that in areas where GM crops are grown on a substantial scale the use of pesticides and agrichemicals goes up inexorably. (6)

*He claims that all of the meat served in London restaurants comes from animals which have consumed at least some GM feed, whereas all organically reared meat will have come from animals which have no contact with GM in their diets. (7)

* He claims that consumers are already eating GM food on a regular basis, whereas both consumers and the food industry know that there is simply no market for GM products, whether labelled or unlabelled. (8)

* He claims that concerns about the health effects of GM food are misplaced, whereas the evidence from animal feeding studies shows that both GM products and the herbicide residues on GM plants are toxic to mammals. (9)

Speaking for the group, Dr John says: "What we have here is a classic example of a Government minister taking an aggressive stance on something which he knows absolutely nothing about. We challenge him, on the basis of hard evidence, on every single point which he makes. GM crops and foods are not wanted and not needed, and they harm both the environment and human health. Mr Paterson should seek better advice in future, or choose his friends more carefully."


Further info: Dr Brian John, GM-Free Cymru, tel 01239-820470


(1) GM Freeze and GeneWatch UK, 25 October 2012. "Monsanto meets Ministers to push return of GM crops in Britain"

(2) GM crops: the farm-scale evaluations results GM Maize Trials involved "cynical scientific fraud"


(4) GM Freeze, 19 October 2011. Weed resistance in GM crops – an update
GM Freeze, 10 November 2011. Insect Resistance to Bt toxins in GM Insect Resistant Crops


(6) Benbrook, CM, 2012. "Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the US - The first sixteen years". Environmental Sciences Europe 2012, 24:24 doi:10.1186/2190-4715-24-24



Séralini, G-E., E. Clair, R. Mesnage, S. Gress, N. Defarge, M. Malatesta, D. Hennequin, J. Spiroux de Vendômois. 2012. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food Chem. Toxicol.