'Occupy the Seed!' Vandana's Call for Seed Freedom + Free Seed Saving eBook

Sebastian von Holstein
Sunday, 26th August 2012

Following on from the Occupy movements that have taken the world by storm, Dr. Vandana Shiva has planned a two-week campaign named the Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action, also known as 'Occupy the Seed'. To help launch the campaign we offer a free vegetable seed saving guide eBook.

The campaign is symbolically set to begin on Mahatma Ghandi's birth date on October 2, through to October 16th. It will seek to improve awareness of the growing threat that patented seeds pose on both our crop diversity and personal freedoms. It will also act to improve our relationship with a universal food supply that humanity has grown to take for granted.

In a video entitled Seed Freedom, Vandana Shiva states that while "farmers [continue to] have their seeds in their hands, there will never be poverty, never be hunger." However, large corporations such as Monsanto have created what she refers to as a "seed emergency", preventing farmers from accessing and controlling their own supply of seeds, by genetically modifying, patenting and then circulating 'sterile' seeds. Farmers who continue to grow seeds traditionally often suffer from cross contamination and run the risk of being sued by Monsanto, under the pretence that they have stolen 'modified genes.'

Shiva makes it clear that "patents on seed that make it illegal for farmers to save and exchange them will [result in] scarcity." The dangers of relying on mass-scale monocultures of patented seed varieties is in itself a risky move for our food supply, while also having driven hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers to commit suicide. Such facts are greatly distressing, however Shiva's message below is one of great inspiration and hope:

Vandana's Message to Permaculturists

Dear Permaculturists,

There can be no permanent agriculture without the permanence, diversity and renewability of seed. Unlike industrial monocultures, permaculture depends on the co-operation between different species – plant and animals, perennial and annual.

The seeds of this diversity are at the heart of an agriculture of permanence. This is why you have an extremely important role to play in the Global Campaign for Seed Freedom both to save the diversity of seeds as well as our freedom to save and exchange seeds. Everywhere new laws are being imposed that make seed diversity, seed freedom and seed exchange illegal.

That is why I invite you to play a leading role in the Fortnight for Seed Freedom from 2nd October (Gandhi's Birth Anniversary) to 16th October 2012 (World Food Day). In the spirit of Gandhi's satyagraha, we plan to focus especially on the 2nd October (Gandhi's birth anniversary) as a call for civil disobedience against unjust seed laws, to declare our Seed Freedom.

I enclose some ideas for actions for the Seed Freedom Fortnight and look forward to planning common strategies and receiving from you a calendar of actions for the Fortnight so that together we can reclaim our Seed Freedom.

Vandana Shiva

17th August 2012

'Occupy the Seed' is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word on seed monopolies. There are many ways for Permaculturalists to participate - Start off by joining the Seed Freedom Movement by signing the declaration on seed freedom, or subscribe to Seed Freedom on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. You are also encouraged to share information and videos with others. For these, and many more ways to get involved, please follow the links below.

Download a FREE eBook, A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty By The Seed Ambassadors Project.

Click this link for a comprehensive list of information and tips for getting involved during the Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action.

To sign the declaration and for more information, visit Seed Freedom's official website:


Erik |
August 27, 2012 - 12:49am
Here are two UK websites that run seedswaps. http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/grapevine/seed-swap/ http://www.allotments4all.co.uk/smf/index.php?board=1.0
Graham Strouts |
September 4, 2012 - 7:24pm
Unfortunately the whole anti-GE movement is based on lies and misinformation, with Vandana Shiva being a prime culprit; disappointing to see PC Mag repeating this. 1) "Terminator" seeds do not exist in any cultivated crop, nor are they likely to- but it would probably be better if they did in order to assuage fears of cross-pollination, and avoid costly law-suits from farmers who break the law by growing Monsanto seeds without a license. 2) There is no evidence of a link between GE seeds and farmer suicides- this is pure scare-mongering (high interest rates and lack of social security in India are a more likely culprit); 3) In developing countries farmers saving their own seed is generally a sign of subsistence level farming and poverty; improved seeds are not necessarily GE, but include hybrids of course- you can re-plant the hybrids but they won't have the improved characteristics. Farmers all over the world choose themselves to buy improved seeds- both hybrid and GE- because they get better yields and more profit. That allows them to sell surplus and then they can afford to send their kids to school and buy washing machines- basic things that we in the West take for granted. The whole concept of Shiva's campaign is a complete red herring- farm saved seed is generally not so good, seed-saving on a commercial scale is a specialised job. Seed-saving is fine for the hobbyist home gardener, but that is not what this campaign is about. Farmers are not stupid- they use GE seeds because they benefit from using them. 4) farmers being sued for accidental cross-pollination is also a myth. There may be real issues around seed patents and corporate behavior, but it is impossible to have a rational discussion about them with so much misinformation circulating. 5) If you dont like capitalism, why are you using a computer? Why are you on Facebook- probably the most obvious example of uncontrolled rampant capitalism there is. 6) Please read my recent blog post for scientific references and more exploring these issues. http://skepteco.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/the-truth-about-the-terminator/
Debra Harrow |
September 4, 2012 - 9:59pm
People are generally paid for blogging, Graham, so I am wondering, who is paying you to promote GMO products? I have a source that I consider to be highly credible, and thousands of environmental activists standing with me who likewise believe this source: Jeffrey M. Smith. http://www.seedsofdeception.com/ GMOs are harmful. Smith's book lists 65 health dangers, linking GMOs to toxic and allergic reactions, reports of thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. Humans who consumed foods with GMO products, such as corn, have suffered anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. At the very least, labeling of GMO products should be mandatory, so that people can have a choice about what they are consuming, and what they are feeding their families. Meanwhile, we grow our own organic foods, fight non-beneficial insect infestations with companion planting and diatimatious earth, and support local organic farmers.
Graham Strouts |
September 5, 2012 - 8:27am
"People are generally paid for blogging," you've GOT to be kidding me!! Jeffrey Smith is a quack: http://gmopundit.blogspot.ie/2012/01/jeffrey-smith-is-russ-miller-of-anti.html who to trust? in a democracy, we have no choice but to trust our public science; we do not have the right to just make up our own facts. http://skepteco.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/we-must-trust-our-public-scientists/ There are deep pockets and vested interests backing the anti-GE campaigns, and they are evidently spreading lies (and have been for years); arguments from authority dont count- either the evidence is there for something or not. If there is any specific point that I have made that you think is incorrect, please show the evidence you have, thankyou
Jody Boeh |
September 5, 2012 - 10:45am
Physicist Dr. Vandana Shiva is not anti-science. Certainly she is more credible than ranting troll Graham Strouts who is very possibly, as Debra points out, an industry sponsored astroturfer. He is clearly quite bonkers and abusive in his tone, I would delete his comments if I was the administrated this website. It is not worth engaging with these trolls. Shiva's books Soil Not Oil or Earth Democracy well referenced, excellent pieces of scholarship that disprove in detail all of Graham absurd claims.
Graham Strouts |
September 5, 2012 - 1:43pm
Um, hopefully someone form PC Mag who knows me well will attest as to who am, although my profile is readily available thorough my blog. But what if I was an industry troll? Does that mean Terminator really is used? Or should we look for actual evidence? I suggest take one thin at a time: firstly, can we agree that Terminator seeds have never been used in cultivated crops? See my blog for references. AFAIK outside the anti-GE movement this specific issue at least is entirely uncontroversial
Jody Boeh |
September 5, 2012 - 2:13pm
The problem with being an industry troll Graham, is there is a dangerous lack of criticality in research that is done by industry. All too often industry funded research works to justify pursuing profitable activities, often regardless of the ecological consequences. Trolls impose this lack of rigour and critical thinking on much more authoritative voices (such as Dr. Shiva). There is plenty or research to back up all of Shiva's claims. It is generally pointless to feed the trolls so I will stop here.
Graham Strouts |
September 5, 2012 - 6:34pm
Thing is Jody, how do we know you are not a shill? Maybe commercial interests in alternaitve medicine? Maybe if you actually give some evidence this would look less likely. Shiva has no credibility that I can see; she is not a physicist, her primary degree is physics but her Phd is Philosophy of science; I am not aware of any published science in her name; she certainly has zero scientific credentials that would make her an authority on agriculture; and apparently she doesnt even understand that sterile seeds cannot spread viable pollen! Amazing really, and I am genuinely curious about this: you would expect permaculturalists to understand the basics of plant pollination, but apparently not, otherwise they would not take Shiva seriously. I am really curious as to whether anyone will come out and say even, "Wow, there is no such thing as terminator seeds." Even that would be a huge leap forward.
Graham Strouts |
September 5, 2012 - 8:08pm
Scientific rebuttal, chapter by chapter , of Jeffrey Smith here: http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/
Maddy Harland |
September 7, 2012 - 4:35pm
In many ways life would be a lot simpler if Graham Strouts was an industry troll but he is not. I do not believe he has ever been paid by any corporate to promote GM. He is instead a low impact builder and a practitioner and teacher of permaculture at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. He took over the job from Rob Hopkins. His father is an eminent tree scientist. I have known Graham for many years. Graham has very strong opinions in any subject remotely considered related to 'activism' or that is regarded as 'unscientific', the imagination of a test tube and is a thorn in my editorial side but he sure does keep me questioning and reading in subject areas beyond permaculture. I do not agree with him in many areas where reductionist science is a blunt instrument and does not have the tools to provide 'proof'. I do question his lack of understanding and opinions and the way he expresses them. No doubt he'd say similar of me. I strongly believe in free speech. I wouldn't dream of deleting comments on this website unless they were dangerous or unforgivably abusive.
Graham Strouts |
September 7, 2012 - 4:54pm
"I do not agree with him in many areas where reductionist science is a blunt instrument and does not have the tools to provide 'proof'." -this implies that something else might have tools that are less "blunt" and that might be able to provide better "proof"- but what? Clearly, science is just a method of inquiry, perhaps best compared with the legal system; even a unanimous jury verdict does not constitute absolute "proof" which maybe can only exist in pure mathematics. So, no claims being made by me on proof- It is just a question of weighing the evidence and assessing what is most likely. Does V Shiva claim absolute "proof" or certainty that, eg., GE crops are a direct cause of 1/4m suicides? This is a very serious charge if you consider it in the context of a court case; are we going to just take her word for it, and pass sentence?
Graham Strouts |
September 7, 2012 - 5:02pm
Thanks for clarifying that Maddy, much appreciated; although of course, you don't have "proof" Im not a shill; I could easily be moonlighting as one, my public service salary is not very much, plenty of motive, you can't be sure... ;) But where does that leave us? As I said before, even if I was a shill/troll, the evidence has to stand on its own. The psychology of this is fascinating- even people who tell me, well of course there are lots of other reasons to opose GE, we dont like Monsanto or capitalism or vast monocultures etc, still wont take issue with Shiva's lies about Terminator; and it seems to me, if there was really other good reasons, then people would talk about those and articulate them clearly; they wouldn't have any need to make stuff up.
Graham Strouts |
September 7, 2012 - 5:16pm
Also, your comment about my imagination is quite revealing: there is a role for imagination in life, naturally; art, love, simple day-dreaming, all make good use of it; even science does for sure- but imagining things is not the same as collecting evidence, and to confuse the two is rather dangerous (think again about a court case: I recommend watching "!2 Angry Men"). Shiva's imagination might be more sexy to some (not others!) than the quest for truth, but you are unintentionally admitting, or hinting, that you know she is just inventing stuff for which there is no evidence. It's obvious that no-one is gong to admit even that Terminator seeds dont exist, even if they continue to make other points against GE; the Terminator myth is a crucial part of the anti-GE movement. To publicly accept the obvious -that it is not true- would be to undermine everything else and bring it into question, a bit like admitting that the Pope is not infallible.
Maddy Harland |
September 8, 2012 - 8:27am
No I am not. Not good to project psychologies here. I am commenting on the limitations of science to fully explain and understand the world and its ongoing capacity to discover and develop - science is an interpretation of information, not always a given. Today's scientific 'fact' has the capacity to be superseded by a new discovery or understanding tomorrow.
Graham Strouts |
September 8, 2012 - 11:53am
Sure, in an absolute philosophical sense, but this is irrelevant: science does NOT claim immutable certainty- only religion and faith-based belief systems claim that. It's not about "proof" and "Facts" - it's about evidence. Where does the balance of evidence lie? If there is vast amounts of evidence supporting one position, do we then say, "Ah, but science has been wrong before!" and use that as an excuse for ignoring all the evidence? Well, of course yes this is a very common response from supporters of homeopathy and alternative medicine. What would it look like if we apply this approach to climate change? "The overwhelming body of evidence suggests humans are contributing to warming; but because science does not have absolute proof, and new evidence might come along, however unlikely that is, we should simply ignore all the evidence and make up our own." But Im just trying to focus on one simple issue to begin with: do Terminator seeds exist? There is no evidence at all that they do- it is entirely uncontroversial-, and yet we are told by Shiva with absolute, inviolable certainty that they do, that "GE seeds are terminator seeds." To paraphrase yourself, 'Is it not possible that today's anti-GE activist 'fact' has the capacity to be superseded by a new discovery or understanding' tomorrow'?
Mike Holden |
September 21, 2012 - 10:19am
I would consider myself to be an environmentalist and as such until a few months ago would have been passionately anti GE. However I now find myself sitting firmly on the fence. Conversations such as this inform my thinking but on their own will never make me come down on either side - only hard scientific facts and evidence will make that happen. But what they do do is make me recoil away from the anti movement. Vedana Shiva is (as her name conveniently suggests) is held with deity like status within the anti movement and the minute anyone dares to challenge her they are accused based on absolutely zero evidence of being an Industry Troll. As it turns out far from being a Troll Graham lives a text book off the grid permaculture lifestyle! Ha ha, does this suddenly make what he has to say any more or less relevant? I note the name callers have gone silent. (Disclosure, I do know Graham on a personal level but often argue with him on many issues including this one). But here is the point. Graham has very clearly put it up to Shiva and all the other antis by calling her a liar with regard to terminator seeds. Why doesn’t someone just post a simple slip of evidence instantly discrediting Graham? And given their huge resources why not get a solicitor to issue him a formal warning threatening a libel action? (I’d hate to see him actually getting sued but he must not call her a liar if she is not one). If it is because they can’t then surely surely this is enough to encourage some of the other antis reading this to question other things that Shiva might have said and come and join me on the fence?
Skepteco |
September 21, 2012 - 4:44pm
Here is the letter Monsanto sent to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1999 pledging not to use Terminator in any crops: http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/monsanto-ceo-to-rockefeller-foundation-president-gordon-conway-terminator-technology.aspx Of course noone is going to believe Monsanto about anything; but why would they lie about this? True, they reserve the right to continue to develop the technology and maybe use it in the future; but there has not been any report from anyone anywhere afaik claiming that this has happened. Here is a BBC news report of the same time: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/465222.stm Note that the other main bug-bear of the anti-GE folk is farmers being sued by Monsanto for saving out and growing their seed without license- which of course would not be possible if those seeds were Terminator. (That was the primary reason for Terminator- to stop people saving seeds without paying!) So when Shiva says "GE seeds are terminator seeds" which seeds, and where, is she specifically talking about? I have never heard her mention any specific crop in relation to this.
themandme |
September 25, 2012 - 5:03pm
Graham is certainly not a shill. His opinions are a tad brutal sometimes, he has a lot of passion for this subject and the way he delivers those opinions are maybe in the manner of Victor Meldrew but he will always back up his views with excellent evidence. His POV is certainly worth considering and taking time to digest. Whilst I think Vandana has some very good reasons for seed swapping and I think it is something that should be done locally on a global scale. However I reject that she says this will stop poverty? That is an outrageous statement to make and I agree with Graham that the farmer suicides are probably more likely to do with global economic and financial inputs, possibly even climate change and the volatile weather conditions it brings. Seed swapping and saving cannot change that.
keisha |
September 29, 2012 - 2:53pm
To explain this to a layperson then...if i save seeds from a supermarket tomato can I grow a new tomato plant? Also, can anybody tell me about the terminator seeds and how monsanto would create a continuous supply when they apparently terminate themselves?
Skepteco |
October 1, 2012 - 5:02pm
keisha- yes you can probably grow a new tomato plant from a supermarket seed, but it will probably not grow true, ie it may not give you very good varieties; Monsanto probably dont make the secrets of their technology public but one way they might sprout their Terminator seeds would be to spray a chemical on the seeds that will activate a dormant gene, or something like that.
Skepteco |
October 4, 2012 - 6:16pm
Here is a graph showing the negative relationship between farmer suicides and uptake of BT cottonin India. Note that the dramatic increase in suicides 1994-2004 preceded the introduction of BT cotton by several years: http://st.ilfattoquotidiano.it/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/rsz_figura1-suicidi-cotonebt.jpg?47e3a5 original article here: (Italian)http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2012/10/02/l%E2%80%99inesistente-legame-tra-suicidi-e-cotone-ogm-parte-2/
Suzie Cahn |
October 9, 2012 - 3:04pm
Most people commenting on GMO here are not scientists or even ethicists - there are plenty of experts out there writing about this in peer reviewed evidenced based reports, but is very hard for a lay person to digest it all. The ethics are similar to that for climate change- "Ethics as a method, procedure, or perspective for deciding how to act and for analyzing complex problems and issues. For instance, in considering a complex issue like global warming, one may take an economic, ecological, political, or ethical perspective on the problem. While an economist might examine the cost and benefits of various policies related to global warming, an environmental ethicist could examine the ethical values and principles at stake." I think in these online discussions there are always a number of different frames being mixed up at the same time: Someones criteria for judgement and comment might include science, ethics, morals, anecdotal evidence, conversations with others in person or on the internet, and on the internet in particular a great deal of emotional knee jerk response. (see below for some edited quotes from others about internet communication difficulties.) Here is another source on GM- to me a lay person it seems to include good references and expresses many of my own inexpert conclusions have a look http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58 However the rest of my post here is what the discussion really brings up for me. The issue of how we debate at a time when we also need to learn to collaborate. I think it is one of our greatest challenges in permaculture. If Holgrem is to be believed then we will do it when we must. But how to get along now, communicate well resolve conflict, and so on is of interest to me. There are plenty of people writing on the subject. Often when I try to inform myself of what others are doing and thinking via the internet instead what I read highlights a unique set of difficulties, and I wonder, if we could do better here, be more respectful, effective communicators, would it help in face to face interactions too. "On the internet people express themselves in ways they wouldn't ordinarily. The lack of face-to-face cues amplifies a disinhibiting effect. In some cases the result may be people who speak in an aggressive, antisocial manner. Or it can encourages people to be more open, honest, or even affectionate." "the lack of face-to-face cues often results in ambiguity. Without hearing a person's voice - or seeing body language and facial expressions - you may not be exactly sure what the person means. This ambiguity enhances the tendency to project your own expectations, wishes, and anxieties stemming from past relationships onto the somewhat shadowy figure sitting at the other end of the Internet - "This can be called a "transference reaction". Transference reactions are more likely to surface when emotional attachments begin to form but you still do not have a good "feel" for the person due to that lack of ftf cues. Other peak moments occur when emotional topics come up." "When in doubt, we fall back on our old expectations about how people relate to us - expectations that formed in our early relationships with our parents and siblings. People may idealize you, detest you, or anything inbetween. These kind of transference reactions often are deeply ingrained, prepared responses in the person that are ready to leap out at an opportune moment. Due to the lack of ftf cues, thoughts and feelings that are difficult to express in-person may surface online." "On the positive side through the internet you have the opportunity to contact people from around the world. The challenge, however, is that people from around the world have different customs for conversing and developing relationships. So what to do??? Here's some good advice, I think perhaps it could be reiterated when topics start to run away from their purpose. A good rule of thumb in conversing on the internet is to be appropriately polite, friendly. As clear as possible in what you write. Stretch your e-mail empathy muscles. Unless you're very sure of your relationship with the person, avoid colloquialisms, slang, humor, innuendoes, and especially subtle attempts at cynicism and sarcasm, which can be difficult to convey in TextTalk even under the best of circumstances. It's much safer to start off polite and later loosen up if developing a relationship with correspondents. best of luck, S
Skepteco |
October 12, 2012 - 5:02pm
Suzie: why avoid the issue that I have raised here? Terminator seeds are not in use anywhere; there is no connection between GE technology and farmer suicides in India or anywhere else. Shiva is lying about these and other issues concerning GE seeds in order to protect her own vested interests, closely connected with the multi-billion dollar "alternative therapy" and organics industry. see: http://theconversation.edu.au/calls-for-labelling-gm-food-reveal-attempts-at-market-domination-9873 If you had read my previous comments and followed the links you would already found a rebuttal to the "GMO Myths and Truths" report via here: http://skepteco.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/we-must-trust-our-public-scientists/ which takes you to here: http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2012/06/20/look-beyond-the-scientific-veneer-of-a-gmo-report/ More on Antoniou and how he and the likes of Greenpeace operate here: http://www.biofortified.org/2011/07/greenpeace-goes-after-australian-wheat/#more-7036 What purpose is it to reference a non-scientific activist report, obviously manufactured as propaganda to promote misinformation for a political goal, which I have already debunked, unless you are also party to that misinformation campaign? You open your comment with reference to "peer-reviewed evidence based report" but fail to refer to any. Is that because you dont actually know what such a report looks like, or because you want to hide the evidence the science actually shows? All this waffle about how to engage on the internet is just deflecting attention from the actual issues, which you choose to ignore, and designed to obscure the truth. You seem to think that being polite might make up for talking nonsense.
Skepteco |
October 15, 2012 - 6:46pm
So how interesting- it has just been drawn to my attention that Shiva's own publication, the Navdanya Seed Kit http://seedfreedom.in/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Seed-Kit.pdf admits that Terminator is not used: "After studying these seeds, molecular biologists warned of the possibility of terminator seeds spreading to surrounding food crops or to the natural environment—the gradual spread of sterility in seeding plants would result in a global catastrophe that could eventually wipe out higher life forms, including humans." This bit is just a repeat of the idiotic lies she tells in her 2000 book "Stolen Harvest". Sterile seeds obviously cannot spread sterility; that is the whole point of GURT (Gene Use Restrictor Technology)- yes it was of course used to protect patents, but would also prevent accidental cross-pollination. So a whole movement has grown up based on an absurdity: a movement of among others organic farmers and permaculturalists who know so little about even the most basic facts of life that they think sterile seeds could spread sterility, and thereby wipe out humanity. It is like saying mules could spread sterility through the animal kingdom and wipe out all life on earth. This is the sort of thing that one might want to take deep inside and meditate on for a while. The people who swallow this are the same ones who claim they will bring about some kind of change of consciousness and spear-head the creation of a new sustainable world. I dont think so- more likely such people will bring about the end of humanity should they get their way just through sheer stupidity. However, what is more interesting is the next sentence: "Since 2001 there has been a de facto worldwide moratorium on the use of terminator technology." So she knew all along that GE seeds are NOT Terminator. And yet noone else reading this, nor Permaculture Mag themselves- who are right behind Shiva's fraudulent campaign- could even admit this themselves. Shame!
Maddy Harland |
October 17, 2012 - 3:59pm
Two simple characteristics account for the nearly 40 million hectares of GM crops planted in 1999(2). The majority (71%) are tolerant to broad-spectrum herbicides, with companies engineering plants to be tolerant to their own brand of herbicide, while most of the rest are engineered with bt-toxins to kill insect pests. A university-based survey of 8200 field trials of the most widely grown GM crops, herbicide-tolerant soya beans – revealed that they yield 6.7% less and required two to five times more herbicides than non-GM varieties(3). This has been confirmed by a more recent study in the University of Nebraska(4). Yet other problems have been identified: erratic performance, disease susceptibility(5), fruit abortion(6) and poor economic returns to farmers(7). see Prof. Polycap Dank B.Sc science polycap research institute Angola See http://appprecautionaryprinciple.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/isis-open-letter-from-world-scientists-to-all-governments-concerning-genetically-modified-organisms-gmos/ for all references and more research sources. I have no doubt this will not satisfy those pro-GM at all costs.
Skepteco |
October 20, 2012 - 12:29pm
It shouldn't satisfy anyone Maddy, even those who are "anti-GE at any cost." It certainly wouldnt satisfy anyone with an interest in truth and accuracy. Maddy please explain why you have avoided all of the issues I have raised in my original comment 4-09-12 7.24pm, numbered 1-6? Unless you do respond to them, I assume this bait-and-switch tactic you are using is to hide the facts: Shiva is lying in the video you promote, about Terminator, farmers suicides, cross-pollination etc.. Your first response was to blind us with epistimology- "science has been wrong before"! But your own sources are impeccable of course and could not possibly be biased or inaccurate in any way! Indeed, you claim the infallibility usually reserved for Popes. Which makes it even more extraordinary that your reference above -http://www.i-sis.org.uk/list.php#list- is to a letter written 1.9.2000, 12 years ago- a very long time in an area moving as fast as biotech. The claims of that letter are out of date and none of them appear to be substantiated or backed by any evidence- not that we would expect to find any since it is emanating from one of the many anti-GE organisations, ISIS, who will never, ever, give any info other than anti-GE because they exist for one reason only, to campaign for a total ban on the technology. The other reference you give on pesticides is presumably to Benbrook WSU - (I dont know which study you refer to as from the University of Nebraska- since you appear to have copied and pasted partially with missing refs from somewhere else, my guess is you dont know which study you mean either...) which is assessed here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7hhP5QasNtsUHZwcW9vdVZUMUU/edit?pli=1 basically it doesnt do what it claims to do, and makes no distinction between pesticides of varying toxicity- RR crops have clearly displaced much more toxic chemicals. See also summary and discussion here: http://gmopundit.blogspot.ie/2012/10/benbrook-2012-pesticide-usage-report.html Remember, most of the arguments against GE apply also to non-GE conventional, and many- such as the evolution of "super-pests" apply also to organic farming (which is in any case usually monocultures also) -organic farmers spray Bt pesticide widely and routinely,(and also have probs with "super-pests") so clearly use of Bt cotton has reduced the use of this pesticide! You are correct of course that the main use of GE has been RR and Bt crops- but this is not surprising since the technology is so rigidly controlled legally, effectively banned in Europe and Africa, because of activists like you. There are many many other traits possible, inc many which should interest the small-holder and permaculturalist; but even trials of GE-blight resistant potatoes are vigorously opposed, even though they would save up to 20 sprayings of fungicide a year. Are anti-GE activists shills for Big Fungicide? Your framing of the issues shows you dont understand them: GE is simply one way of breeding new varieties. It clearly has the capacity to achieve things other methods have faield to do. That doesnt mean it is a silver bullet, noone is arguing that. I would clearly take the position that its best application would be in conjunction with good farming practice and permaculture methods- eg low-till, difficult on organic farms, is clearly helped enormously by RR crops. Noone is "pro-GM at all costs." We need the best farming methods to feed the world. There are many however who are "anti-GE at all costs"- including the costs of keeping the poor poor and the hungry hungry. Most of all we need integrity and honesty in the debate and a commitment to verifiable and relevant facts, something you Maddy seem to regard with disdain. Noone can make an informed decision when they are being fed a constant drip of lies and misinformation.
Skepteco |
October 20, 2012 - 1:03pm
See also this discussion re Benbrook: http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2012/10/03/when-bad-news-stories-help-bad-science-go-viral/ Benbrook is of course the chief science consultant for the Colorado-based Organic Center, another activist organisation. Activism and science do not go together. Scientists who are also activists tend to come to their conclusion first, then manufacture the data to support it. There is such a thing as independent science- if you want to be taken seriously, that is what you have to refer to. Benbrooks' new study is a re-write of a 2009 report, debunked by independent plant scientist Anastasia Bodnar here: http://www.biofortified.org/2009/11/does-using-gmos-really-increase-pesticide-use/ See this study published in Nature showing that widespread planting of Bt cotton in China drastically reduced the spraying of synthetic chemicals, increased the abundance of beneficial organisms and decreased populations of insects that damage the crop: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11153.html see this study showing the widespread benefits of Bt cotton, including increase in farmer incomes and reduction in pesticide poisoning: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-313X.2002.01401.x/full These and other independent studies are quoted in this article by plant scientist Prof. Pamela Ronald from UCD http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/08/12/would-rachel-carson-embrace-frankenfoods-this-scientist-believes-yes/ Ronald has developed a GE variety of rice that is flood-tolerant.http://earthsky.org/human-world/pamela-ronald-has-developed-a-more-flood-tolerant-rice This has been developed through independent universities and is not connected with biotech companies. Anti-GE activists want to stop all these benefits to farmers all over the world- at any cost. They are fundamentally anti-farming.

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