Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Playing with Nature: Genetically Engineered Rapeseed Out of Control?

Image: GMO Rapeseed (Canola)

Canada Implicated in Uncontrolled Spread of GMO Oilseed Rape

“Canada grows genetically engineered oilseed rape on a large scale. For about ten years it has been known that these plants are spreading uncontrolled into the environment. But so far no measures have been taken to stop them…What we are observing is a lack of accepting responsibility especially on the part of industry.”
~ Dr. Christoph Then, Testbiotech.
Source: testbiotech.de: Plants can no longer be withdrawn from the environment
Testbiotech is a German-based non-profit organisation founded in 2008 by a group of experts which, among other activities, “aims to make independent research and transparency higher priorities in political decision making.”

Today they published a global overview of countries where the spread of genetically engineered rapeseed (for processing into Canola Oil) is out of control, and Canada tops the list, among the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe.

The announcement was made to coincide with the ABIC 2013 Conference in Calgary, Alberta, a forum for bio-agro-business professionals “discuss and learn from senior business development leaders, investors, government policy makers and scientist who, by working together, can achieve significant progress in the commercialization of ag biotechnology.”

This kind of announcement made at such an event illustrates what we categorize as evidence of exploitation. It highlights the unintended consequences of treating the natural world not with reverence, respect and dignity; rather, looking upon it as a big box of biotechnological Lego, ripe for the picking apart. Which we, behaving not unlike immature children, have gleefully done unchecked for decades now.

According to Testbiotech, it may now be too late to reverse any impending damages on the horizon of our callous carelessness. As for what those damages may be, we are in the dark since,
Mind you, we do know of one company, Monsanto, who is taking decisive action on the unintended spread of GMO crops in the environment, having filed—or threatening to file—nearly 850 lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and 2010 for patent infringement after finding evidence of contamination of their fields by Monsanto-brand GMO seeds.

Image: Comic strip spoofing Monsanto’s response to spread of GMO crops, posted by Seppo

For more details on the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the issues of contamination and patent infringement, we highly recommend the Activist Post article by Randy Anada from August 10, 2013: Monsanto can sue farmers when GMO contamination goes over one percent of their crop.

It seems then, in the topsy-turvy world of genetically engineered agri-biz, neither compassion nor common-sense rule. Exploitation is the norm, not the exception. Is it any wonder that our lack of corporate conscience in relation to nature gets reflected in how large companies deal with farmers?

Is it any wonder that the GMO organisms themselves spin out of control in farmers’ fields, in just the same way as the science and the lawsuits do in their respective fields? There is a kind of terrifying poetry to it all, like the geometry of a fractal as it spirals outward at an exponential rate.

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