"UK Farmers Upbeat about GM Crops" Debunked
Government Funding Industry to Market GM Crops. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Peter Saunders
How UK government funding agency misled the public
The UK Government's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recently put out a press release entitled, "What farmers think about GM crops" , which began: "Farmers are upbeat about genetically modified crops", according to research it funded.
It went to say that a research team at the Open University has taken "the first systematic look" at what large-scale, commodity farmers (specifically excluding those mainly involved in organic growing) think about GM crops. The research, aimed at the attitudes of farmers expected to be most favourably disposed to using GM crops, found that they regard GM as a simple extension of previous plant breeding techniques, and GM crops an innovation that "they would assess on its merits." Their real interest is in "how GM crops would work in practice and whether they can contribute to the profitability of their farms."
The research was actually done in 2005 , and involved interviewing just 30 commodity farmers. Half of the farmers, selected by SCIMAC (the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops), the industry group that supports GM crops, were among those who had hosted the three-year Farm Scale Evaluation of GM crops that SCIMAC had got the UK government to fund in 2000. And even this small, restricted group of farmers, expected to be most favourably inclined towards GM crops, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.
But the ESRC press release quoted the lead researcher Prof. Andy Lane saying: "New technology such as GM is attractive to farmers. They want to produce high-quality food profitably and they want to farm in an environmentally sensitive way. GM may allow them to reconcile this conundrum by doing both of these things at once..A particular advantage of GM is its potential to allow farmers to grow crops with high yields while using less herbicide."
Lane's statements are not based on any evidence provided by the Open University research team, the ESRC or anywhere else, and have been contradicted again and again by data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and studies carried out in universities (see below).
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