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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

C4 Documentary Misses Many Important GM Issues

Immediate release (5 Nov 2010)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze welcomes the chance provided by the C4 Documentary “What the Green Movement Got Wrong” to debate whether GM crops offer a sustainable solution for future food supply and land management but says the programme fails to address many important issues about the use of GM technology and the power of the corporations who are behind it.

Most disappointing was the failure of the programme to raise any new issues. A lot of the information on GM biotechnology was very tired old material and the debate has moved on and has become more sophisticated.

The group highlights several key omissions in last night’s documentary:

  • Failure to assess whether nutritionally enhanced foods will actually tackle malnutrition.
  • Failure to examine the performance of the present generation of crops in terms of their impacts on biodiversity in agriculture and natural eco-systems.
  • Failure to address the socio-economic impacts of GM technology.
  • Failure to address the implications of the patenting of genetic resources by biotech corporations.
  • Failure to engage with scientists who are adopting alternative approaches to land management and plant breeding.
  • Failure to recognise the key role played by small farmers worldwide in feeding us, and in developing, changing and maintaining varieties that can help us to address the accelerating challenges climate change.
  • Failure to consider the socio-economic, policy and political causes of the mal- distribution of food in the world.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

Although the programme raised many interesting issues, none were dealt with in a way that would lead to a rational debate about where the real solutions lie. Instead it came over as a polemic on behalf of GM technology. Many important GM issues, such as the rapid development of herbicide tolerant weeds in GM crops in the USA and S America, were ignored. Progress in agroecological approaches to land management and non GM plant breeding, such as marker assisted selection, were also not included.

We hope that the programme marks the beginning of a rational debate about the solutions to tackle climate change and hunger. This debate needs to address trade policies, access to knowledge and technology and who should decides as well as the safety and efficacy of different technologies and management approaches.

Many of the solutions are interactive: ie climate change and hunger – and water shortages and soil erosion – can be tackled within the same agroecological system. They also need not costs millions, but mainly require political will and a strong policy framework for their realisation. Research funding urgently needs to be redirected to agroecological issues and we look forward to Channel 4 making a programme to examine these methods and interview some of their practitioners.