Joanna Blythman: GM crop trials are needless and reckless


Joanna Blythman: GM crop trials are needless and reckless

This Sunday, exasperated farmers and citizens will travel to a field near Harpenden to uproot a crop of genetically modified wheat. They have been denounced in purple prose by pro-GM commentators, as science haters, “Nazi book burners” and vandals. But what else can concerned citizens do when the company conducting the GM wheat trial, Rothamsted Research, presses on recklessly with an open field experiment that has the potential to contaminate neighbouring farmers’ crops and trigger unpredictable impacts on other species?

Recent Swiss research shows that some GM wheat varieties can cross-pollinate with crops more than 2.75km away, and that in the field, they cross-pollinate six times more than conventional varieties. Yet in contamination incidents involving long-grain rice in the US and flax in Canada, GM companies refused to accept liability.

In Europe, despite the US biotech industry’s attempts to ram GM down our gullets, applications for open-field trials of the Harpenden type have been steadily falling since 2009. Why? Consumers consistently reject genetically modified food. This is why Carrefour, the world’s second largest supermarket chain, now labels its own-brand meat and dairy as GM animal feed-free, (“Nourri sans OGM”), to give its customers the field-to-fork guarantee they so clearly desire.

Joanna Blythman is the author of ‘What to Eat: Food that’s good for your health, pocket and plate’ (Fourth Estate)


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
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NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A recent news article about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.


Nurses heckle ‘liar’ Lansley over staffing level claims

NURSES heckled and laughed at Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today after he claimed clinical staffing levels in the NHS had increased.

Mr Lansley was speaking in the wake of a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) study that warned more than 60,000 frontline jobs in the NHS, including those of nurses, were at risk because of spending cuts, with almost half already gone.

He was laughed at by members of the audience at the RCN annual conference in Harrogate after saying nurses should tell superiors if staffing levels were not safe.

And some in the crowd shouted “liar” after the Health Secretary claimed clinical staffing levels had increased on his watch.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.


The Con-Dem government yesterday announced that the cabinet had vetoed publication of the transitional risk-register about dangers to the NHS from the Health and Social Care / Destroy the NHS Bill.

Andrew Lansley claimed to be “… a firm believer in greater transparency …” but not in this instance. A more realistic assessment is that Lansley and the Con-Dem government has evaded publication of the risk-register at every opportunity and that they are desperate that it should not be published since it illustrates that they have been reckless and consitently lied about their intentions for the NHS. “No more top-down reorganisation”, “I’ll cut the defecit, not the NHS”, “I love the NHS”, “… it is not privatisation”. All bollocks.

An earlier draft risk-register has been leaked. It clearly shows that the government has been reckless with the NHS and strongly suggests that the intention all along was to destroy it.



NHS reform risk warnings leaked

Identifying 43 separate areas of potential risk, the draft register rates each on a scale of one to five, where a rating of one means little likelihood and very low impact and five means almost certain to occur and very high impact. The likelihood and impact figures are combined to give an overall risk rating, with a maximum score of 25.

Among 13 areas given a risk rating of 16 – with likelihood and impact each assessed at four out of five – were: Parliamentary amendments creating “unforeseen consequences for the system”; costs being driven up by GP consortia using private sector organisations and staff; implementation beginning before adequate planning has been done; loss of financial control; “unhelpful conflict” between the NHS commissioning board and regulator Monitor; GP consortia going bust or having to cut services for financial reasons; GP leaders being drawn into managerial processes which end up driving clinical behaviour.

Staff concerns and union action over the reforms could lead to “deterioration in relations, lower productivity in the Department of Health/NHS and delays in programme”, the document said. And there was a warning that strategic health authorities and primary care trusts might lose “good people” who then have to be re-employed to run the new system.


Continue ReadingNHS news review