GM THE GREAT BETRAYAL; Health, Public Opinion, the Countryside ... Nothing Matters except to Show That Mr Blair, America's Poodle, Is Always Right

Daily Mail (London), February 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

GM THE GREAT BETRAYAL; Health, Public Opinion, the Countryside ... Nothing Matters except to Show That Mr Blair, America's Poodle, Is Always Right


Byline: GEOFFREY LEAN

LET US get one thing straight, before the spinning torrent of misinformation being prepared by ministers is unleashed on the longsuffering British public.

Despite what we will be told, the Government's decision to allow the planting of GM maize is far from the rational, science-based assessment of the risks and benefits that we have the right to demand from our rulers.

No. The leaked Cabinet minutes show this to be an entirely political act, taken in defiance of the scientific evidence and public concern, by a Government desperate to curry favour with big business, appease President George Bush and, above all, to save the face of a Prime Minister.

It is also bound to backfire, further damaging what little is left of public trust in the Government and casting the long-term future of GM agriculture into jeopardy. For both Tony Blair and the biotechnology industry, the victory will be Pyrrhic indeed.

Once again, the Prime Minister's credibility is bang in the centre of the controversy. Back in October he promised the House of Commons he would 'proceed only according to the science' in making a decision on GM. 'To be frank about it, the Government has got no interest in this one way or another, other than to do the right thing,' he said.

Cynical

Frankly, to use Mr Blair's expression, this was hard to credit even at the time, given his long, evangelical espousal of GM and his desire not to cross President Bush.

The U.S. administration has close connections with Monsanto and other biotech companies and Bush has not hidden his fury at Europe's refusal to import American GM food. He expects Mr Blair's unthinking support.

It is clear that he has got it and I am afraid to say that it is now downright impossible to believe that Mr Blair has done 'the right thing'.

For in three and a half decades of rummaging around the darker corners of the environmental policies of some pretty disreputable governments, I have rarely come across so breathtakingly cynical a document.

Despite the presence of 13 ministers at the crucial meeting of the Cabinet Office ministerial subcommittee on biotechnology on February 11, when the GM crops go-ahead was discussed, it records no consideration whatsoever of the pros and cons.

Instead, the meeting was devoted to debating how best to spin the decision.

Ministers discussed how public opposition could be 'worn down', how 'key MPs' could be persuaded to 'prepare the ground' before the decision is announced, and how important 'careful presentation' would be.

In their desperation to find a sellable 'line' on GM, they plumped for trying to persuade the public of the dubious proposition that growing GM crops in Britain would help feed hungry people in the Third World.

(This is despite the fact that surplus food already produced by Western countries is routinely dumped in the Third World.) Margot Wallstrom, the EU environment commissioner, scornfully demolished that fallacy last autumn, saying that U.S. biotech companies had introduced them 'to solve starvation among shareholders, not the developing world'.

In practice, introducing the crops will almost certainly worsen the plight of the poor, enabling wealthy farmers to undercut smaller producers.

True, ministers went on to discuss measures to limit GM contamination of neighbouring crops and to compensate those affected, but even this was presented as putting such concerns 'into perspective'.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

GM THE GREAT BETRAYAL; Health, Public Opinion, the Countryside ... Nothing Matters except to Show That Mr Blair, America's Poodle, Is Always Right
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.