Selling Suicide: farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries  [1999]

A. Simms

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Experience shows that large gaps between rich and poor, ownership of resources concentrated in too few hands, and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops, are the classic preconditions for hunger and famine. New technologies are taking us further down this ill-advised farm track. Genetic engineering may, under highly specific circumstances, have something to offer poor people and poor farmers, but it is very doubtful that those conditions exist. Apart from environmental and health concerns several questions must be asked of any new crop. Just a few are: does it fit into prevailing farming practices how does a new variety perform in multiple cropping does it retain traditional side uses what is its impact on the soil how does it fit the need for employment. In the rush to sell new technology these things have barely been considered. Quite apart from such unanswered questions, current applications are more to do with corporations capturing global market share and protecting royalties than anything else.<BR> In the Christian Aid report, Hungry for Justice, prepared for the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996, the challenge was summed up as the need to give poor people access both to their genetic resources and their basic entitlements such as land, needed to support their huge diversity of farming systems.<BR> Greater concentration of ownership inherent in the new technologies, and laws drawn up to protect them, is set to repeat and worsen one
of the great mistakes of the green revolution. More dependence and marginalisation loom for the poorest. The inability to contain genetic material once released into the environment means that even field trials of new crops are tantamount to uncontrolled, irreversible experiments and invasions of the global commons.<BR> In the UK, genetic pollution from modified crops already threatens a shift to more organic agriculture. A GM system, wherever it is grown in the world, once released, actually denies the right to choose other ways of farming.<BR>It is not necessary that genetic engineering should contribute to an agriculture that might create unemployment; leave people landless and in debt; damage the environment; tend to monopoly control by large companies; be of dubious long-term benefit to consumers; deny the viability of other, proven, sustainable farming systems; and be expensive to small farmers. It does not have to be like this; it just so happens that, in real life, it is [author]

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  • Biotechnology
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  • united kingdom
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  • Genetically modified crops
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  • Agriculture and food.Agricultural biodiversity and natural resource management.Soil and land management
  • Agriculture and food.Agricultural biodiversity and natural resource management