Saturday, June 13, 2009

The BBC gives Monsanto a little helping hand?

Eco-farmer Jimmy in the streets of London

Most -if not all- of the BBC documentaries and investigative news reports I´ve seen are technically impressive. The guys do know their job, and they hire the best. From a content standpoint they are often progressive: from the war in Iraq, to the situation in Palestine, to Global Warming.

So I was a bit disappointed when I watched the Beeb´s program titled "Jimmy´s GM food fight" part of the otherwise great "BBC Horizon" series which I recommend wholeheartedly (For instance the one titled "The Ghost in your Genes" is great).

Jimmy gives the girls a taste of his sausage...
cooked with regular soybean oil and GM soybean oil

He mentions that one saves the environment, while
the other can give the world+dog enough to eat.
...It really goes downhill from there...

To put it in a few words, the program host starts with a supposed skeptical look at genetically modified crops, but soon (at around minute 12:00) the balance starts titlting towards the pro-GM side. I was actually dismayed when he started saying "we've been tinkering with plants for years" equalling genetic selection with genetic MODIFICATION. And more importantly, ignoring the chemicals that come with it, namely Monsanto´s RoundUp (Glyphosate and add-ons).

In short: overlooked was the chemical industry's big business with pesticides and herbicides. The dangers of Glyphosate are only recently being known. While Glyphosate itself might have low toxicity, the compound as delivered and sprayed over crops contains various toxic chemicals IN ADDITION TO glyphosate itself.

So "RoundUp" contains more than just glyphosate. Plus, "enhancers" are sold and mixed to RoundUp, to make it permeate the plant deeper, and be "more effective"..

A court down here in Argentina has recently banned crop dusters from spraying glyphosate near rural towns, where it affected the health of the local population.

English version:

Court in Argentina bans crop dusters spraying Monsanto´s Glyphosate over soybean fields near urban areas. - AYN

More from the wikipedia:

Scientific fraud

On two occasions the United States Environmental Protection Agency has caught scientists deliberately falsifying test results at research laboratories hired by Monsanto to study glyphosate
False advertising

In 1996 Monsanto was accused of false and misleading advertising of glyphosate products, prompting a law suit by the New York State attorney general.[13] Environmental and consumer rights campaigners brought a case in France in 2001 for presenting Roundup as biodegradable and claiming that it left the soil clean after use; glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, is classed by the European Union as "dangerous for the environment" and "toxic for aquatic organisms". In January 2007, Monsanto was convicted of false advertising

So as you can see things aren´t as simple as "toying with plants"... and GM crops aren´t as harmless as depicted in this BBC programme, because they aren´t just modified seends, they come with the added chemicals sprayed on them.

Here, an Austrialian study which confirmed Glyphosate´s toxicity to frogs,

Fortunately, an eco-friendly farming UK blog has noticed this little bias in Jimmy´s programme, and is asking people to file a complaint with the BBC.

Let´s hope Europe does not repeat our mistake, and that we can eventually get rid of GMs too.

PS: He came down here and the first part of the programme shows neat images of Argentina's vast GM soybean fields, even from the air.