Saturday, 2 May 2015

What kind of World would I vote for? A GM Free one

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Compton Martin, Bristol
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

This is a guest blog that was published on the Beyond GM website on 1st May 2015.  The link is

This is from the guest blog I wrote for A Focus on Nature, as it is the lead up to the general elections.

Imagine a dystopian world where biotech and chemical companies control all food supplies. You can’t plant your own, they choose what you eat and the only food you receive is cancerous. It sounds like The Hunger Games gone wrong? This could be our reality by 2050.

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Compton Martin, Bristol
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

All the major parties in the UK, except the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, are pro planting Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops and planting could start after September 2016. The EU has already voted allowing GMOs to be planted. This will lead to cross pollination which can occur up to 10 miles away. The biotech companies do not allow their plants to be used for seed the following year and so farmers must pay for seeds each year. Farmers whose crops are cross-contaminated should receive compensation but instead, in the USA, farmers are being sued for growing the patented crops owned by the biotech companies. It could happen here.

Allowing GMOs into Europe will destroy ecosystems, kill bees and ruin the landscape. The long term effect on nature as well as the birds, animals and insects feeding on GMO crops with their increased toxins is unknown. I feel passionately about saving our natural world and will fight to stop it being destroyed, particularly for the profit of a few companies. We have an election approaching and so I urge everyone to contact their candidates and get guarantees that they will not support the planting or selling of GMO in the UK or Europe. We have an opportunity now to protect our countryside from GMOs, before it is too late. If I were voting, I would not vote for anyone who supported GMOs in the name of “progress”. Now is the time to also lobby our politicians and supermarkets to ensure that food products containing animals fed GMO or their by-products are banned or at the least labelled.

GMOs are a short term approach creating long term problems. The biotech and chemical companies who make them first advertised them as normal crops that were slightly genetically altered to allow them to tolerate agro-chemicals and so overcome weeds and pests. However, as the insects and weeds grew immune to the chemicals used in GMO cropping, farmers were forced to buy more and more pesticides and herbicides; obviously, from the same chemicals companies. In the USA there are over 20 species of weed that are now resistant to herbicides with pest resistance also building up.

GMO crops with their increased toxins are a threat to our food and health. The poisons in them have been found in human breast milk and foetuses, which highlights that they may be transferred through the milk, eggs and meat of any animals (including humans) fed GMO food. Most chickens, pigs and dairy cows in the UK are now being fed GMO soya and maze. This means that any non-organic dairy product in the UK, including things like baby milk and chocolate, potentially has GMO content and may well contain residues of the chemicals used in GMO cropping.

Almost all the research on the impact of GMOs on the environment and human health has been carried out by the biotech companies themselves or by scientists linked to them. Policy makers and politicians are only relying on research and information produced by these companies. Without exception, the companies have refused to disclose any negative results from their research and studies have been for very short periods, with a typical length of study of only 3 months for food safety assessment. So no one knows what the long term effects of GMOs and their associated pesticides will be on us and our environment. Glyphosate, the active chemical in the herbicide Roundup used on 80% of GMO crops has recently been declared a “probable human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organisation.

You may be saying that if someone is against GMOs then just don’t eat them, but it isn’t that simple. In the USA GMOs aren’t labelled, but it’s not for want of it. Figures show that 91% of people over there want to know which foods contain GMOs. 53% say they would not eat GMOs if they could avoid it, but a shocking 80% of processed food in the USA has a GMO in. Where States have tried to create a law that foods containing GMOs had to be labelled, the biotech and food industries have threatened to sue them. With the new TTIP trade agreement between the USA and the EU; that could be us in 10 years time. Our supermarkets had promised to label all GMOs and had stopped selling them but they are now selling GMO fed animal products without labelling and potentially will be selling more GMO foods to us unlabelled in the future.

I care about the environment and our health. I find it difficult to understand why anybody would want to plant GMO crops in Europe, seeing how they have taken over the food chain in the USA. I also believe in the rule of law and can not see how it is right for companies to be able to sue governments trying to legislate to ensure that their citizen’s rights are upheld (the right to have food labelled) and their health protected. Our politicians here and in Europe can stop this and it makes me angry that they make these decisions without their own research. I will turn 18 years old on the day of the next election and will be voting for a politician who prioritizes the health of their constituents and the environment above the financial gain of biotech companies. In 2050, I will be 52 years old with hopefully children of my own. What do I want our world to look like by then? I want a world where bees and insects can live safely alongside natural crops that do not harm our environment or health. I want a world where GMOs have not been planted in the UK and where the food we eat is free of them. I want a GMO free planet.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Compton Martin, Bristol
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

This article was an extended version of the guest blog posted on the A Focus on Nature Blog on the 29th April 2015 in the lead up to the elections.  I wanted to write about something concrete.  The link to that post is

About the Writer

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She is looking forward to doing Mountain Gorilla trekking in East Africa this summer and watching penguins in Antarctica in December, her 7th continent. She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter

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