Rabu, 7 Mei 2008

Press statement: GM is not the solution for our food crisis!

The recent food crisis has leaded the world community into an uncertainty and panic situation. Nonetheless the crisis has been perpetuated long time ago under neoliberalism economic system which gave birth to certain policies like ‘Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) that famously promoted by World Bank and IMF. Under SAP the indebted countries (mostly Third World countries) that took financial loan from these international financial institutions, were told to plant a cash crop that need to be exported rather than planting their own staple crops for domestic consumption.Thus it leads to a humanitarian crisis of food shortage in most of the countries that has adjusted their policy under SAP.

Furthermore neoliberalism economic system allow such basic commodity like food to be used for speculation and bargaining which leads to a turbulence change of prices. International nonprofit group GRAIN has just published a report called ‘Making a killing from hunger’ which states: "The amount of speculative money in commodities futures was less than $5 billion in 2000. Last year, it ballooned to roughly $175 billion."

As what matter the most under neoliberalism is profit. The role of food crops like corn and soy were also being transformed from merely about feeding the people and now to feed the vehicles in the name of biofuel.

Under this neoliberalism banner also, the myth ‘Genetically Modified crops is a solution for world hunger’ exists and being heavily promoted by agribusiness corporations from the developed countries.

I feel greatly worried with a comment from Datuk Dr Abd Shukor Abd Rahman, director-general of the Mardi (NST on 4th May 2008) that GM crops is part of the solution in this food crisis.

To refute this idea I would like to quote an argument from Claire Hope Cummings who is an environmental journalist and a former environmental lawyer for 20 years in United States. In her new book Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds, she outlined five solid reasons that genetic engineering is not right for agriculture.

One: It's bad science. It was developed on the basis of
flawed assumptions which have since been discredited by the
scientific community.

Two: It's bad biology. It was deployed without regard for its potential
for genetic contamination and its risks to human health.

Three: It's bad social policy. It puts control over seeds and the
fundamentals of our food and farms into the hands of a few
corporations who have their own, not our, best interests in mind.

Four: It's bad economics. After billions of dollars and thirty years,
only a few products have been commercialized, and they offer
nothing new. No one asked for genetically modified organisms
(GMOs), and given a choice, consumers would reject them.

Five: It's bad farming. GMOs don't address the real issues plaguing
agriculture; they're designed to substitute for or increase the use of
proprietary weed and pest control chemicals. Patented and genetically
altered seeds perpetuate the very worst problems of the industrial
food system, and they are undermining the autonomy of the farmers
who use them.

With these kind of perspectives, I hope Mardi would not jump quickly into the bandwagon of including GM crops as part of the solution before referring and discussing extensively with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and reputable scientific communities on the impact of GM crops to our society.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal,
3rd Year Chemical Engineering student,
Universiti Teknologi Petronas.

1 ulasan:

W. A. Matiin berkata...

Salam Fayshal, though I may agree on how issues of excessive proprietary control of seeds, disproportionate attention and hype given to fuel 'cultivation', and environmental impact can be disadvantageous to GM agriculture, I don't quite get, or agree with a few things.

I don't believe the arguments given such as 'bad science, refuted by the scientific community', 'bad economics' and 'bad farming due to increased pesticide use' etc as valid reasons to refute GM technology. With crops developed specifically to minimize spraying, addition of synthetic fertilizers, and withstand harsh conditions, how exactly can such crops be any worse than the current practices where liberal amounts of pesticides and herbicides are discharged into the environment and the farmers' reproductive systems among other things?

And when positive results have in fact been obtained in terms of efficient strain/seed production, and desirable trait presence; which flawed assumptions was Claire Cummings referring to, really?

The issue with GM crops really is more concerning the implications of its success, and unfair exploitation by unscrupulous corporations and national policies, and the level of stringency taken to ensure public and environmental health isn't compromised.

The real question is, 'with something so promising, how do we ensure that everyone benefits from it equitably, and how can we turn this from becoming another environmentally-disastrous revolution like when industries boomed and this planet-changing invention called the motorcar came into existence?'

Environmental Biotechnology major