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Bush Pushes US GMOs on Rest of World

Bush is apparently gearing up to push GMOs throught the WTO this summer. Yet another reason to get to Sacramento in June to protest!
Bush Steps Up Criticism of Europe's Ban on Genetic Foods

NEW LONDON, Conn., May 21 ? President Bush asserted today that Europe's refusal to allow food from genetically modified crops into their markets had discouraged Third World countries from using this technology and thus undermined efforts to end hunger in Africa.

Mr. Bush's accusation, long a complaint of American farmers, was made during a graduation speech at the United States Coast Guard Academy that dwelled on initiatives to combat AIDS and poverty. It is almost certain to exacerbate the bitter divisions between Washington and Europe that have not abated since the end of the war in Iraq. While Mr. Bush has made the case before that Europe should stop obstructing the sale of genetically modified food, today was the first time he linked that policy with hunger in the Third World.

The speech signaled the tough stance that Mr. Bush is likely to take when he travels to France in 10 days for the annual economic summit meeting of the Group of 7 largest industrialized nations and Russia. White House officials have already said that Mr. Bush plans no rapprochement with the leaders of France and Germany, beyond what they call a perfunctory "courtesy visit" to France's president, Jacques Chirac, during the summit meeting in Evian les-Bains.

In a speech that the White House said would put forward what aides called a "positive agenda" that would show a far softer side to American foreign policy, Mr. Bush insisted that widened use of "high-yield bio-crops" would greatly increase agricultural productivity in some of the world's poorest nations.

"Yet our partners in Europe are impeding this effort," he said, clearly meaning France and Germany, though he named no countries. "They have blocked all new bio-crops because of unfounded, unscientific fears." The result, he charged, was that African nations that fear being shut out of European markets are not investing in the technology ? in which the United States has a large financial stake. He appeared to be referring to such countries as Uganda and Namibia.

"European governments should join not hinder the great cause of ending hunger in Africa," he said.

Mr. Bush made no mention of the United States' own strong economic interest in the outcome of the dispute with Europe. American corporations lead the world in biotechnology and are anxious to open the lucrative European market.

Last week the Bush administration filed the equivalent of a lawsuit at the World Trade Organization to force Europe to lift its ban on genetically modified food, a step that Mr. Bush had delayed during the debate about Iraq.
To those who wonder what is wrong with GMO 21.May.2003 21:44


I'm sure most indy readers are familiar with the concerns about GMO, but to those who are not, here's a partial list of problems... from a guy who IS NOT an expert...

1. Health risk. Genetic modifications used to be accomplished by breeding plants with the best characteristics. If one plant couldn't pollinate another, then the GM didn't happen. In that manner, the improvements made to plants were in some ways limited. Nowadays, we engage in all sorts of gene splicing/DNA toying/etc that nature could never accomplish on its own. The results are quite radical. Is it safe? I'm sure some of the results are safe, but others are not. Some of the GMO corn has been shown to be quite dangerous (see the Taco Bell taco shell recall, and also see the articles about massive fertility drops for pigs on farms using this stuff).

2. Some of this stuff has such strong pollination that it can wipe out natural crops by getting its genes into pretty much every closely related plant around. This means that, once introduced, some GMO plants will spread their genes too much, and make it near-impossible to grow traditional varieties. So if you start out with something bad, you've just ruined the ability of a nation to rely upon a given crop--for decades and decades!!! And suppose that you have a terminator gene (one which makes the seeds non-fertile so the farmer has to buy a supply each year). The terminator plants can pollinate the plants on the surrounding farms and then the surrounding farms cannot grow next year's crop without buying seeds as well. Check out the problems with corn (or was it maize) in South (or was it Latin) America. Evil.

GMO, as it is currently regulated (ie, not enough!) poses some huge risks to society. Could it help fight starvation? Yes. Could it introduce a whole new set of problems? Yes. And if we're really concerned about the African farmers, then we'll stop selling them crops where they have to BUY seeds from us for each and every season.

Good audio link on the subject 22.May.2003 14:44