Friday, April 21, 2006

The nature fetish

The Polish Upper House joins forces with liberal eco-warriors in opposition to GM crops.

The ruling, conservative, Law and Justice party has been open about its opposition to ‘Frankenstein foods’. In an unlikely alliance with liberal environmentalists they vow to clean Polish soil of the latest threat to civilization, as we know it.

Radio Polonia reports:

Maciej Muskat, Greenpeace campaigner against GMOs, congratulates the Polish government for living up to their promises. According to Muskat, there are a number of reasons not to introduce GMO: s in Poland.

”Introduction of GMOs into the Polish agricultural market would be a real catastrophe…because of the Polish structure of rural farms, with are very small and vulnerable to contamination by foreign genetic material. So, if genetically engineered plants are introduced in Poland, then very shortly Polish production, and harvest will be perceived as being contaminated. This would of course have powerful effects on the agriculture and the people living out of it,” he said.

Note the emphasis on trade in that statement from Greepeace and not ‘nature’. This is because, maybe, Greenpeace is aware that Poles, on the whole, do not make a fetish about Green issues as they do in Western Europe.

In fact, if you are pro-GM crops – as this blog is – then you get treated as some kind of ‘nature molester’ – which is almost as bad as being a child molester. It’s the same if you question some of the assumptions behind the Global Warming panic – a climate change denier being almost as bad, to some very alienated people, as a Holocaust denier.

Though you don’t often hear about them there are real benefits that can be got from GM. In a report in the magazine Biotechnologica, Graham Brooks writes:
'Polish arable farmers have the potential to gain more from early adoption of GM technology than their EU 15 counterparts because they are starting from a lower average level of technical efficiency and therefore they will derive greater productivity gains. The GM technology offers scope for accelerating the process of ‘productivity catch up’ post EU accession, enabling Polish producers to compete more effectively, and earlier than they might otherwise have been capable of, if they did not use GM technology.'

GM crops can also be of very great benefit to farmers in developing countries. They give a far higher yield, and can be used without pesticides (and so are environmentally friendly!). Unfortunately, Third World farmers fear that they will not be able to sell this produce to Western Europe because people are so fearful of GM that they will not buy them.

But let’s be rational about GM. Maybe, as one study has found, GM has a small effect on the diversity of wildlife where it is grown.

But so what: if GM has real benefits for human beings then the loss, maybe, of a couple of types of butterfly is well worth it.

But putting human first is very unfashionable these days. Are we becoming so self-hating that butterflies and 'nature' come before fellow humans?


sonia said...

This is a good example of religious right and luddite left coming together for different ideological reasons. I am afraid that together they might hold off the free-market, pro-technology centrists, at least for awhile...

But don't worry, next year the leftist will find yet another pet cause and they will quickly forget Frankenfoods (like they forgot about freeing Mumia...)

GM crops will then quietly slip into everyone's diet. But those farmers who will use GM crops will be very careful to label them as 'all-organic' and 'all-natural', of course...

beatroot said...

Agreed. But don't get me started on the 'organic'con! It's almost as stupid as that homopahtic nonsense.

beatroot said...

Thanks. That article actually shows up weakness in my argument: patents. Monsanto etc want to keep control of their 'inventions'...they also sell farmers infertile seeds that cannot reproduce - they are one generation crops. That means the farners have to keep buying the seed each time.

And that's bad.

How to encourage R&D in companies if they can't realise all the profits? It's the same with AIDS medicine...they won't develop new medicines if there are cheaper generics.

Eugene Markow said...

Counterpoint: The Polish government, and anyone else that resists the marketing of GMO's in their country deserves a hearty endorsement and congratulations. Sonia and Beatroot, do you ever realize why fruits and vegetables grown in Western Europe and the USA tastes like cardboard? I was born and raised in the USA, and let me tell you, there is nothing tastier than Polish produce. In the USA, the California strawberries I used to purchase in the supermarket were GMO products, and were large, bright red, with absolutely no taste at all. Thats just one small example. In addition, the GMO market is nothing but a lucrative business for Western European countries, trying to impose their bland taste ways on ecologically delicious Polish farming methods. I highly recommend you both read this article concerning food in Britain, an objective view on this subject entitled "We want real food", dated (18/02/2006). Here is an excerpt (Link Below):

"Britain's once fertile soil has been systematically stripped of its crucial minerals by industrial farming, leaving our fruit and vegetables tasteless and a nation in chronic ill health. Graham Harvey calls for a return to nutritious food."


michael farris said...

I'd be more enthusiastic about large scale GM foods and how harmless it all is if people hadn't been so wrong so often before about this kind of thing. Tobacco was once considered a medicine after all.

And yes, large scale factory farming tends to produce tasteless crap (pretty looking and durable but tasteless).

I've met lots of folks from NAmerica and WEurope who say that the raw ingredients of Poland are far superior to that produced in those areas.

This used to be true of bread, but in the cities, Polish bread is undergoing the same crapization processes that make make it all but uneatable for me in many other countries. More air! Less flavor! Bread straight from the countryside still has some quality.

And I often can get eggs from the countryside which are three times better than what I can get in stores (and those are twice as good as eggs in the US).

beatroot said...

Welcome Eugene!

Mass produced farming has made food cheap affordable for everyone. That means they have more money to spend on other things. We should be grateful for that.

And with supermarkets and the begining of mass produced farming in Poland, prices will fall here too. At the moment prices in relation to income are still very high here. Which is bad when you have lots of poor people. So bring on mass produced food and more supermarkets!

Anonymous said...

My standing point is that even if I could afford. I have stopped consuming anything that comes from afar - eg. tomato from Spain. It tastes like red water.
Also, I sort of realized that I need no tomato in the middle of the winter if it is not tasty.
After all my belly is my best friend!

One real comment Peter, I disagree with GMO making anything good to poor people through cheaper food production.

michael farris said...

"Also, I sort of realized that I need no tomato in the middle of the winter if it is not tasty."

Are you familiar with the song "Addio pomidory"? In fall, a guy is bidding farewell to fresh produce (at that time Poland imported very little food and fresh produce was not available from sometime in fall until sometime in spring).

(pomidory = tomatoes)

beatroot said...

Bur Deszo...why are you against GMO?

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