From the Editor
Jubilation swept through the green and pleasant land like a sunburst
after the storm as Bayer CropScience abandoned growing GM maize in
Britain, just weeks after the government gave it the go-ahead, aided and
abetted by pro-GM scientists shamelessly bending science and scientific
evidence. Bayer said the conditions imposed by environment secretary
Margaret Beckett made growing GM maize "economically non- viable".
Bayer is not alone. Novartis has also told the government that no GM
crops will be grown this year. In fact, all GM trials in the UK have
been abandoned except for one, a herbicide-resistant pea tested for
drought resistance at John Innes Centre, Norwich. This reflects a
precipitous fall in applications for GM field trials from a peak of 159
in 2000-01, 140 in 2001-02 and 42 in 2002-03.
Developments elsewhere have been equally dramatic.
In just over a week at the end of March, 4 States in Australia ruled
out large-scale planting of GM crops: Western Australia, the nation’s
biggest crop producer, took the lead by announcing an outright ban. The
next day Tasmania, too, voted for a ban. Victoria followed two days
later by extending its moratorium on GM crops for four years. A few days
later, New South Wales ruled out a 3 000 hectare trial of GM oilseed
rape. And South Australia passed a bill that prevents GM crops from
being grown for three years, except under strict conditions. This
effectively puts Australia’s plans to grow GM crops "on hold
Simultaneously, a grassroots uprising has been gathering momentum in
the United States, top grower and exporter of GM crops. In March,
Mendocino County of California passed ‘Measure H’, which bans growing GM
crops. A month later, the California Department of Food and Agriculture
stalled the planting of a transgenic rice that produces dangerous
pharmaceuticals. Then Vermont made history by becoming the first state
in the country to require the labelling of GM seeds, and North Dakota
drafted a ballot measure that could block Monsanto’s GM wheat.
On 21 April, President Chavez of Venezuela announced a ban on
cultivation of GM soya in favour of the indigenous yucca. This followed
on the heels of Angola’s rejection of GM maize aid from the US. Angola
has aligned itself with four southern African nations - Zambia,
Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi – which have already banned imports of
GM maize grain. Zambia made world headlines in rejecting US GM maize aid
two years ago in the face of projected famine, opting instead for
purchasing food surpluses from within the region (see SiS 16 and
17). Zambia has recovered so well that it is now exporting maize
surpluses to Angola.
These are stunning victories for democracy and for science. ISIS and
members of the Independent Science Panel (ISP) have been tireless in
exposing the corrupt and corrupted science that has fed the GM bubble
and brought financial and ecological ruin to family farmers in North
America, Argentina and elsewhere.
The GM fight is by no means over. More GM crops are approved for
growing in India, despite devastating counter-evidence. The Philippines,
Indonesia, Kenya and other African countries are still under threat. The
US lodged a complaint against the EU in the World Trade Organisation,
and is demanding that the EU lifts its de facto moratorium on GM
crop approvals and pay at least US$1.8 bn to the US in compensation for
loss of exports over the past six years.
Further evidence of possible GM health hazards has surfaced:
debilitating illnesses in villagers living near GM maize fields in the
Philippines observed during the last growing season are repeated this
The French newspaper Le Monde has seen secret documents
revealing health impacts of Monsanto’s GM maize Mon 863, which has just
received a positive assessment from the European Food Safety Authority.
They include kidney malformations and increases in white blood cells in
male rats and increase in blood sugar and decrease in reticulocytes
(immature red blood cells) in female rats.
It is clear that major struggles remain. The ISP’s two-hour briefing
to the UK Parliament filled the 100-seater Grand Committee Room to near
capacity. Former environment minister Michael Meacher joined the ISP to
call for a comprehensive enquiry into GM food safety, for transparency
and independence in scientific research, and an end to the victimisation
of scientists whose research findings are ‘inconvenient’ for industry.
The GM-Free sustainable world is within our grasp. Don’t let it slip
out of reach.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is perhaps the most
researched yet most misunderstood disease in the world, about which the
most misinformation is spread for political purposes.
Consequently, the multi-billion international projects for addressing
the "AIDS pandemic" may well miss their targets of alleviating suffering
and death, and could even make things worse.
That’s why we are offering an important series of articles, not only
to go some way towards unravelling the complex debates surrounding the
AIDS pandemic, but also to review effective treatments that are safe,
effective and affordable for all.
This series is part of an in-depth report to be published later this
year. There is still time to order a copy of the report, "Unravelling
AIDS" at a special pre- publication price of £7.50 plus p&p. Please
e-mail: [email protected]
Quantum world coming
As a special treat, we offer a glimpse into the happening quantum
revolution that may bring us the quantum computer, quantum cryptography
and teleportation. But most of all, it may well change your life; or at
any rate, change how you feel about yourself and the world you live in.
It is spooky, but very, very nice, I think.
To celebrate the quantum world coming, we are running a competition
for original artwork or music that most fits the title, "Quantum jazz"
(see announcement on p.33). To know what this means, you will have to
read the series, at least.