Counting the cost of GM contamination

Posted by jamie — 9 November 2007 at 3:13pm - Comments

Indian farmers campaigning against GM rice

Indian farmers campaigning against GM rice near Lucknow earlier this week © Greenpeace

A couple of GM stories have popped up recently over on our international site, one of which requires your help.

First off, following the rice contamination scandal last year (in which Bayer's genetically modified rice variety, LL601 or Libery Link as it's otherwise known, was found to have contaminated 63 per cent of US non-GM rice exports), we commissioned an economist to assess the financial damage. The top line figures is that the farrago racked up bills of $1.2 billion for farmers, suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. Bayer's defence was (get this) that it was an act of god. No really. Read more about Bayer's GM rice balls up.

Coinciding with the report on Tuesday, Greenpeace India and Bharatiya Kisan Farmers Union held a protest against the Indian government's passion for GM crops. They visited one of the 12 areas approved for GE rice trials with the giant banner pictured above.

Secondly (and this is where you come in), Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment, recently did something quite amazing. He stood up to the giant biotech and agribusiness companies by proposing that Syngeta's GM maize varieties, Bt-11 and 1507, not be authorised for commercial use in the EU. He faces stiff competition from the others members of the EC, so send a message to Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission to show your support for his initiative.

Update: I've just seen the news from Friends of the Earth that the Foods Standards Agency will be holding an official investigation into how contaminated US rice ended up in UK shops. Here's hoping they don't fudge it like their initial response to the crisis.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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