‘Before the age of genetic engineering genes could pass between organisms only through the formal mechanisms of sex – or occasionally and effectively randomly through the agency of viruses. In creatures other than bacteria, sexual exchange is in general possible only between creatures of the same or closely related species. But with genetic engineering, it is in principle possible to transfer genes between any two organisms no matter how distant: from human being to bacterium, from plant to human being, whatever.’ Ian Wilmut, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

‘Under nature, the slightest difference of structure or consitution may well turn the nicely-balanced scale in the struggle for life, and so be preserved. How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will his products be, compared with those accumulated by Nature during whole geological periods. Can we wonder, then, that Nature’s productions should be ‘truer’ in character than man’s productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship.’ Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1859

‘These genetically modified organisms (GMO) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non 'GE' environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way. Their release is 'genetic pollution' and is a major threat because GMOs cannot be recalled once released into the environment.’ Greenpeace, 2006

‘Today, GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace International are launching the first on-line register of genetically modified (GM – also known as genetically engineered, GE) contamination incidents. The on-line, searchable web site gives details of all the known cases of GM contamination of food, feed, seed and wild plants that have taken place worldwide. "No Government or international agency has established a public record of contamination incidents or other problems associated with GM crops. This register has been established because the official approach of ‘turning a blind eye’ is not good enough when dealing with a technology like GM where living organisms are released to the environment", said Dr. Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK’s Director. "We hope this register will form an important resource for citizens and regulators in the future”.’ Genewatch, 2005

FARMER CLAIMS ALL FOOD PRODUCERS ARE UNDER THREAT FROM MULTI-NATIONAL SEED COMPANIES - The debate about whether multi-national companies should be altering the genes in our food is showing no signs of abating. Those who are worried about the consequences spent the past week getting even more worried following a ruling against a 70-year-old Canadian farmer. A Canadian Federal Court found against the farmer and in favour of the multi-national seed giant, Monsanto. Monsanto had accused the farmer of infringing its patent. Percy Schmeiser accepted that Monsanto's patented gene was present in his crop but claimed that it had got there by accident after being blown in from neighbouring fields where farmers had legally planted Monsanto's genetically modified crop. Mr Schmeiser told our reporter Sally Hardcastle that Monsanto had originally accused him of illegally obtaining the seeds. But, they eventually withdrew these allegations and the company admitted that the seeds had just spread. But then the judge ruled that it doesn't matter how Monsanto seeds get on to a farm, whether they cross-pollinate or are blown in by the wind. The judge said it was up to the farmer, who ought to know that once it appears there he must stop growing that crop. Mr Schmeiser believes this is impractical:"How would a farmer know when you have a genetically altered canola plant, it looks exactly the same as another canola plant”.’ BBC World Service, 2001

GM Test Crops

‘Although the majority of contamination cases are not fully investigated, crosspollination appears to be the major cause in the majority of seed contamination incidents.’ Genewatch, 2006

Who will tell the bees -

bumping freely

through fenceless days

of air, burdened summer

evenings, weary with sugar -

they spread the rat

into the golden heart of corn,

by corrupted yellow dusts.

Their harmony with flowers -

such touching, fumbling love,

perfected over breeding centuries,

perverted, irrevocably tinkered -

oh, the flowers keep on smiling,

one-eyed/hearted, full-mouthed,

at siren Sun -

innocently open;

barley still ripples

like a single gold animal in the wind -

nothing to see on the skin of things,

basking leaf palms, blazing crops -

but in twitching wheat whiskers,

white blood sap, the old writing

prints with forced addenda -

when just one syllable of seed

took a million years to write -

scrawling, scribbling, crude

grafitti on the sacred code;

violation of the holy text -

for who will speak to bees,

buzz hummy bee language;

saying this flower is for love,

that one to be left untouched -

who could shoot the million winged

messengers, humble furry Mercuries;

decontaminate the bountiful,

generous culture of the bee -

whose symbiosis is innocent sex,

replenishment of Earth, spreading

her best green scripts of flower

and food. Who will tell the bees?

‘Research yesterday demonstrates weeds becoming stronger by cross-breeding with genetically modified crops, leading to fears about “superweeds”, difficult or impossible to control. Teams in both the US and France found sunflowers and sugar beets happily swapping genes – the cheeky weed sunflowers became hardier and yielded 50% more seeds after crossing with GM sunflowers programmed to resist seed-eating moth larvae. The development company has abandoned its GM sunflower strain but this raises new fears about contamination of organic or ‘normal’ – ha, ha, if you discount the chemicals - crops. The lead scientist confesses “shock” at the results, but why? You don’t need to be a crop scientist – anyone who ever grew a carrot top in a saucer can see the dangers of outdoor GM experiments. Why it will be seen in centuries to come as supreme, breathtakingly stupid folly. Why, I’d say Superweeds have already moved into our garden - at least that’s what I’m putting about.’ Gillian Ferguson, column, Scotsman newspaper

‘The first report into the extent to which genetically engineered (GE) organisms have ‘leaked’ into the environment reveals a disturbing picture of widespread contamination, illegal planting and negative agricultural side effects. The report is a summary of incidents uncovered by the on-line Contamination Register (1) set up by Greenpeace and GeneWatch UK. It reveals a catalogue of highly disturbing incidents right across the world, including; Pork meat from genetically engineered pigs being sold to consumers; Ordinary crops being contaminated with GE crops containing pharmaceuticals; Growing and international distribution of illegal antibiotic resistant Maize seeds; Planting of outlawed GE crops which have been smuggled into countries; Mixing of unapproved GE crops in food, including shipments of food aid; Inadvertent mixing of different GE strains even in high profile scientific field trials. The report reveals 113 such cases worldwide, involving 39 countries - twice as many countries as are officially allowed to grow GE crops since they were first commercialised in 1996. Worryingly, the frequency of these cases is increasing, with 11 countries affected in 2005 alone. Contamination has even been found in countries conducting supposedly ‘’carefully controlled” high-profile farm-scale evaluations, such as the UK…There are 113 incidents included in the register: 88 cases of contamination, 17 illegal releases and eight reports of negative agricultural side-effects. For 2005, this includes seven cases of contamination, eight illegal releases and three cases of negative agricultural side-effects. .A total of 39 countries on five continents are known to have been affected by an incident of GM contamination, illegal planting or adverse agricultural side-effect since 1996. This is almost twice the number of countries that grow GM crops. The USA has had almost twice the number (19) of contamination and other incidents compared to any other country over the first ten years of growing GM crops. This is likely to reflect the high acreage of GM crops grown there. The UK has the second largest number of reported incidents (ten) even though it grows no GM crops commercially. The high detection rate in the UK is likely to reflect the increased scrutiny of GM crops that has taken place there and the greater efforts to detect contamination. It may also serve as an indicator for the total number of cases in countries with similar conditions had they applied the same level of scrutiny.’ Genewatch, 2006

Greenpeace is calling for a mandatory international register of all such events to be set up, along with the adoption of minimum standards of identification and labelling of all international shipments of GE crops. Without such biosafety standards, the global community will have no chance of tracing and recalling dangerous GMOs, should this become necessary…All of these countries have national legislation to protect themselves from illegal GE imports. Still they want to deny the same rights and level of information to less developed countries, with no national Biosafety-laws and means to enforce them. Do they really want such unethical double standards and to create dumping grounds for unidentified and illegal GE imports? We hope that Brazil, who will be hosting this meeting, will not betray the developing countries and cater to large agro-businesses at the expense of the environment..” Benedikt Haerlin, Greenpeace International Biosafety Protocol Delegation, 2006

This may well only be the tip of the iceberg, as there is no official global or national contamination register so far. Most incidents of contamination are actually kept as confidential business information by companies as well as public authorities.” Dr. Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK, 2006

Who would leave the world open

Who would leave the world open -

a lidless bowl, unsealed Petri dish,

slide - for mad B-movie science

corrupting plant, animal – man,

but loosed into the real world

of implication, consequence -

glorious practical cocktail,

utter holiness of profusion;

where there are no boundaries -

air, Evolution’s only defence.

Where Nature’s passionate love

of creation becomes the weapon

of her own corruption, destruction;

Nature, as Supreme High Scientist,

natural genius, labouring

in her patient laboratory

for four billion years,

undone in an instant.

‘Courting further controversy in December, the European Commission made a surprise move, publishing proposals for an allowable accidental GM contamination threshold of 0.9% in organic produce. Current European organic regulations do not allow GM to be used in organic production systems and do not state whether there is any allowable level of contamination…The lack of Europe-wide coexistence rules and a mechanism for compensation for economic losses as a result of GM contamination further compromise the organic movement.’ Genewatch, 2006

‘Enzymes from genetically modified micro-organisms could be used in processed foods as diverse as fish and meat products, soft drinks, biscuits, cakes and bread, which could add up to 90% of processed foodstuffs on supermarket shelves.’ Genewatch, 1999

Correct outcome of sun and earth chemistries

Take it into your mouth, feel it slide down -

that goodness of life you feel in warm Italy,

when the best tomatoes, oil, meat, fruit, bread,

that somebody has loved through their hands,

as they made it into this good dish - outcome

of sun and earth chemistries, is the art of food;

beloved not just of stomach, but the whole body,

feeding more than mind with sugar molecules -

prompting primitive and sophisticated knowledge

that this is rain, nutrients - photosynthesis learned

by every plant, rehearsed over long millennia

to sweeten the fruit, encrypt the future seed –

always honouring the animal who dies for us,

the sacredness of his blood; familial sacrifice.

We trust in this food, its harmony, what it means

beyond fuel - correct inter-existence, structure -

this is a red tomato, not a ratatoe, snakeato, tomrat;

it cannot be right destiny to meld such species held

apart, diverse, so differently branched, for Nature’s

cause - reasons that we cannot fathom yet or guess

effectively. Lunatics are in charge of the Garden,

in suits, seeming sane, salaried; when the man or

the mouse in the street can sense the moral dimension -

practical imperative need for caution, humility, restraint;

what good might come if patience, philosophy is applied -

but what will the future historians in universities be saying

in their artificial world where everything is contaminated,

to know the stupidest fellow breathing on Earth just now

could sense the dangers of this green technology - affront

to all that Nature demonstrates of slowness, long rehearsal,

incremental experiment. Who could interfere with seasons,

fertility of flowers, symbiosis of bees and butterflies; tinker

with such holy mechanisms tinctured with the hand of God -

what arrogance shown that is not felt by all of us, everywhere.

‘Two countries (the United States and Argentina) account for 90% of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the world. Together with Canada and China, they account for 99% of GMO acreage.’ Greenpeace, 2002

‘Experimental GM trials in Europe - Table 2 gives a breakdown of where GM crop trials that were notified to the European Commission in 2005 took place and with which crops. Table 3 gives details of the traits introduced into these crops. Maize is the most commonly modified crop and stacked herbicide tolerance and insect resistance the most common trait. GM maize with tolerance to two herbicides (glyphosate and glufosinate) is now being trialled. Other traits include maize to produce a dog gastric lipase (an enzyme for therapeutic use), maize to produce a human anti-cancer antibody, and potatoes producing a spider silk protein which has great strength. There were also six trials with GM organisms other than plants notified to the European Commission in 2005.’ Genewatch, 2006

The dog in the maize

The dog in the maize, howling at the new moon;

wolf in scientist’s clothing, opening golden lips

to snarl at twitching wind – that whole field

is howling, heard now in the town; the belly

of the human beast who has consumed the dog,

this new gold currency of food and medicine -

I will unearth the word of ‘doom’ from mediaeval

gloom, at the black poem of the dog in the maize –

under a white spell that will not work, for there is no

peace in this field, no golden  repose as comes to all

summer crops, plumping with our human food to fuel

the winter - written by the hand of sun, in the original

script of maize - as drawn from water, sewn from

stardust; here are other addenda, chemical armour,

but the heart was unchanged – as crop, cereal, food,

gathering sunlight; an identity forged in proper order. 

I had a nightmare once of lichen growing on my skin;

pulling, scratching, easing it off painfully on the side

of a bath - my leg pink, as if being shaved - red weals

where the roots were pulled, burning pain, as horrible

green fungal trumpets were removed; but this is nothing

to waking fear of potatoes infiltrated with spider genes –

I’ve seen them under the cupboard, neglected in darkness;

those spindly bone-white blind tubers, skeletally reaching -

what hellish silk might come of this – the spider read

by tuberous plant; what movement in innocent wind -

such strength interpreted by the wrong co-ordinates;

conceived under an ill star crossed, this weird union,

aberration - imagine the crawling stomach sensation,

the hybrid web woven in the intestines of your mind.

What might Darwin, Darwins plural, Charles and Erasmus,

make of this – passed but a nanosecond in our knowledge

of the natural world, their thinking is still present, like dust

sparkling in a sunny room - Erasmus envisaging ‘filaments’

that bind us to the world; silver threads expressing life with

secret means, the natural magic of existence - Charles being

the one to see the same world around, but spot the fantastical

scheme; the origin of species as one root, branched according

to survival of the aptest – a kind culling, global winnowing of

marvellous proportion; such patient interlinking, such fabulous

diversity from incremental change - the slow emergence of man

from his brothers, his animal relatives. All by clever observation,

imagination, realisation - wonder filling their illuminating eyes.

What would they make of this hasty dabbling; glistening, bright

perversion of the basic tools of life – mutation of life’s principle

of unity, plasticity, for new motive; when life itself did not have

knowledge of her capabilities, her possibilities, as quick as this -

to set loose among the fields still burning with organic creativity;

explosive potential of spread and contamination, where even flowers

have been stripped by poison. When knowledge crept upon the shore

from early seas, such learning incremental, cautious, stored and rich;

embroidered in the world as signs - as brilliant flags of ugliness and

beauty marking here, our world, our planet Earth - as home, as sacred

trial among the burned out lifeless acres of the universe, volatile crops

of dust and gases. They could not have seen a time, in all four billion

years that man, so newly found to be as one with everything on Earth,

would dare assault the sparkling plots - the high organic chemistries -

creative work of the whole fantastic scheme beyond even their dreams.

‘The data from the GM Contamination Register show that GM contamination can arise at every stage of development – from the laboratory, to the field, to the plate. In 2005, there were seven cases of contamination, eight illegal releases and three cases of negative agricultural side-effects. The most damaging case of contamination, in 2005, concerned a line of GM maize, Bt10, that does not have regulatory approval anywhere in the world but had been grown accidentally for four years.8 The Bt10 maize was produced by the agricultural biotechnology company Syngenta, and was ‘mistakenly identified’ as its approved commercial GM maize line, Bt11, and used in commercial maize breeding lines.’ Genewatch 2006

Where is it now then, can they say -

following the contaminated maize?

What trail might find the final grain;

in what field admired for its golden

hair. What cross will mark the spot;

each hybrid in invisible disguise –

each seed enough to feed the world,

reprinted - reprinted in this factory

they have imposed upon the world;

where once was life’s gallery, free.

‘With food, feed and seed contamination, poor quality control and failure of post-harvest segregation also play an important role. Seventeen illegal releases included in the register are associated with research and development or black-market growing (in India, Brazil and Romania). Mistakes and errors in handling are one apparently common cause of illegal releases associated with research and development. Eight reported and verified cases of adverse agricultural side-effects have been reported with GM crops, affecting the USA, Argentina, Canada, India and Australia. These include the emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds in the USA and Argentina, unreliable performance of Bt cotton in India, and the first field case in Australia of cotton bollworm resistance to a toxin, Cry1Ac, used in GM cotton.’ Genewatch, 2006

‘Some pressure groups and consumer rights organisationsare concerned that the use of genetically modified organisms may have adverse environmental impacts.One of the concerns surrounds the consequences of the possible spread of modified genes. Researchers can monitor the genes that have been added to GM organisms. Detailed knowledge of plant genomes will mean that the environmental impacts of non-GM, organic, or wild plants could also be readily studied.’ Medical Research Council, UK

‘Genetically engineered organisms out of control in Romania - Ex-Monsanto director speaks out. Massive illegal cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops threatens farmers and the economy in Romania. At a Greenpeace press conference today in Bucharest, Monsanto's former general manager in Romania warned that Romanian authorities have totally lost control over genetically modified organisms in the country. During a research tour in Romania, Greenpeace discovered illegal growing of GE soya in ten counties of the country's total 42. Greenpeace presented findings (1) that prove that Romanian authorities have lost control over the situation.’ Greenpeace, 2005

How could Nature have given more -

to hand and stomach; eye, heart, mind

of Man - O ignorant, foolish Man; species

stupid beyond any supposing - cultivating

medicine over centuries, the arts of civilisation,

with so much yet to learn - now bringing down

such biblical woe, assaulting the scripted pillars

of existence, built so achingly slow - all grown

in the holy compost of a billion trillion

experimental deaths - grand laboratory

of time, space, first materials, elements -

we cannot ever emulate, just contaminate.

‘Greenpeace today welcomed the decision of the Brazilian Environment Protection Agency IBAMA to fine Swiss Agro-Biotech multinational Syngenta one million reais (386 000 euros) for conducting illegal field trials of GE soy in a buffer zone around the Iguacu Falls World Heritage Site. The organisation is confident that a judicial order for the destruction of the genetically engineered plants will also be issued in due time. IBAMA' s decision was announced today at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) taking place in Curitiba, Brazil. "This decision sounds a clear warning to agro-biotech firms intent on putting economic interests ahead of biosafety and enforces respect for biodiversity and protected areas," said Greenpeace International's Doreen Stabinsky from the field site. "The announcement is right on the mark and makes a mockery of Syngenta's denial last week that it had acted illegally. It confirms the legitimacy and necessity of the occupation of the field by local peasants.” National law in Brazil expressly prohibits the planting of GMOs in conservation areas as well as buffer zones around those areas, based on the precautionary principle.  Syngenta's GE soy field trials were found six kilometres from the park, however national law requires a buffer zone of at least ten kilometres.’ Greenpeace, 2006

‘Genetically-modified rice containing human genes is about to be grown in the US for commercial production. The laboratory-created rice which produces some of the proteins found in breast milk and saliva would be used for children’s medicines to help fight diarrhoea, dehydration and other illnesses. The US government gave preliminary approval for Ventria Bioscience to grow over three-thousand acres of the GM rice in Kansas. The California-based company argues that the rice will provide an “affordable system” of “helping millions of children worldwide”. The proteins stimulate growth, aid digestion and the absorption of nutrients and help the immune system. But critics fear the GM rice could mutate if its seeds were blown into fields where natural rice is being grown and so become a permanent part of the food chain.’ Daily Telegraph, 2007

‘The first GM food crop containing human genes is set to be approved for commercial production. The laboratory-created rice produces some of the human proteins found in breast milk and saliva.’ Daily Mail, 2007

What Spores Invisibly Speckle

In the milk-blue husk of early evening, what spores

invisibly speckle fading air - fickle genetic galaxies

float - silver spirals in Earth’s trusting, dusty winds.

What strange words there, written on the breeze;

altered, composed by clumsy hand of baby-man,

butcher-surgeon, creation-quack, cowboy-hack -

not Time and Nature, experimental artists,

unconscionable perfectionists – who will

still attempt to know this weird flotilla -

mutant stars set free to sail among the slow Universe,

which only once remembers such suddeness, gasping

of existence - and this is not as it was then. This new

constellation of seeded dust is different - to everything

that has happened since the first convulsion, intake and

outake of breath; sound of that one Word which would

speak all, be all. These new instruments are escaped -

second-rate creations of limited thinking, little minds

with the wrong goal - even now my mouse-whiskery,

rat-twitchy nose detects some angelic-looking gold pollen,

snuffling suspended dust - shining particles flown silently,

dumbly, all the way here from wherever gave permission -

into my lungs they go – rat-corn, blood-leaf, goat-stem -

bowing to my ever romantic Genome, adaptable to a fault;

waiting to dance, make, celebrate life - on, on until the last

cell is dead and all life is finished. This is not the hot gold

of sunflowers in my nose and mouth - plum or rosy apple;

but the forced ingestion of altered substances I never said

was OK; never allowed in my genetic house -

my house of history, exquisite adaptation over

four billion years, in delicate experimentation.

It is my right not to be polluted – altered.

Who could believe the force that spreads

the green would not encompass anything

we put into the ground with DNA enough to live -

that Nature’s processes will not thus be used against

herself. What fool persuade himself that this - gross,

scary alteration, is for the good; (food for the poor,

my arse) – manipulation of the mechanisms, riches

of nature for profit - the crude enslavement of her

chemistries for money with no regard or any care

for fundamental consequence - inherent danger –

these are the principles, alien to vulnerable Nature,

unheard of until now; nothing we asked for, wanted.

Nothing for which we gave our permission – voted;

considered and approved - we have turned it down.

In the milk-blue husk of summer evening -

I inhale the sick corn; wrong note sounding

in the total music - the very seed is piteous,

self-loathing, burdened with its own creation,

clashing genes - disharmonious, so repugnant

to its being. ‘Frankenfood’ as the people say -

Dalek-crop, quiet mutant, badly altered -

cobbled-together life, dangerous just by

being made, acting as the writing genes

dictate. Not twiglet on the tree of life -

branch, fruit; slow, incremental relative,

prize named rose, but alien life - forced

graft; disturbing even to the consciousness

of a plant, which is just glow - bright mark

of holy processing of light, shine of being,

compared to this disturbance in my mind -

unsettled, despite seductive summer qualities,

when everything looks the same; and sniffing

may be just the whiskered gold smell of barley

hitching the last camouflage light. Now falling,

alighting in shade, that shower of golden dust -

let’s watch the plot here, welcoming black earth,

who will dutifully do her stuff, as always - we’ll

one day see what my body has ingested, repelled,

registered; unwillingly accepted - my Genome

itself fundamentally altered in ways not clear -

maybe for a century, perhaps my next newborn.


Gigantic       Madness,          General            Mayhem,

Genetic         Madness,          Greatly             Marketed, 

Generally     Moronic,           Gargantuan     Mistake,

Greatly         Matters,             Green                Mouse,

Ghastly         Mixtures,          Going into       Meat,

God-              Mocking,          Gigantically     Misguided,

Giant            Mistake,             Granary            Mouse.

‘Today, GeneWatch UK is publishing a summary of public attitudes research from around the world that has been collected since the WTO GMO dispute began in 2003. It shows public hostility to GM crops remains widespread and indicates that the tactics of the US and biotechnology industry are unlikely to succeed in opening markets for GM. The opinion poll and research findings come from a wide spread of countries, including South Africa, China, Japan, Mali, Canada and Europe. They demonstrate that people remain unconvinced about GM crops and foods and, even in the US, the great majority want the choice through mandatory labelling. In 2003, the USA, Argentina and Canada made a complaint to the WTO that Europe’s handling of GM crops was a barrier to free trade. This followed the 1998 decision by Europe, arising from public concern, to take a more precautionary approach to GM food, revising and tightening its legislation so no new approvals for GM crops were made for a period of six years. This angered the GM crop exporting countries who, in desperation and unable to win the public debate, turned to the secretive and undemocratic processes of the WTO’s trade dispute process in an effort to force acceptance both in Europe and the rest of the world.’ Genewatch, 2006

‘During 2005, there were no field trials with GM crops in the UK.’ Genewatch, 2006

‘Let them eat Democracy - Open letter to Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO - Dear Pascal, more than a year ago, the US government teamed up with Canada and Argentina to complain to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about the people of Europe. Europeans are simply too democratic, according to the US government, and public opinion really ought not to be allowed to overrule trade regulations. The issue at question is the European Union's (EU) de facto moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as well as a number of EU member states' national bans on GMOs. In poll after poll, Europeans have stated they don't want to eat genetically contaminated foods, they don't want them grown here, and they don't want them fed to the animals that produce their eggs, milk, and meat. Even an ex-executive of the biotech giant Monsanto believes the dangers of GMOs are being ignored in the rush to push GMOs onto consumers. We recently released details of massive GMO contamination of the Romanian environment that the Romanian government didn't even know about. Mr. Dima, ex-general manager of Monsanto Romania said, "I left the company because I expressed my concerns regarding the introduction of GM technology in Romania. I believed that neither Romania nor the company were ready and able to monitor and control the GM technology". To the US and its allies, this is simply a trade dispute. But at base it's a more fundamental issue of who makes the rules - the people of Europe or the unelected WTO and the corporate empire that runs it. We're aiming to have a one million signature petition by May 2006 on the single issue of whether to ban the importation of GMO animal feed into Europe. So far, we've gotten 320,000 and rising fast. If the WTO and the three complainants are so confident that they have the right to determine what food gets put on the dinner tables of Europe, we want to know where your petition is? Where's the evidence that Europeans want GMOs? What makes you think that people who wouldn't feed GMOs to pigs want to have them force-fed to their children? When democracy and the will of the people is considered expendable, Free Trade isn't free: it's corporate tyranny.’ Sincerely and on behalf of 320,000 people and counting, 2005

GM People-Fear

This is a real victory for the 70.9% of EU consumers who have said they do not want to eat GM food and the 94% that want the right to choose about these foods.” Becky Price, Genewatch, 2002

I love that gut people-fear; primaevally prompted

rejection of GM crops - deliberate contamination

of our food; meaning no matter how much deaf concrete

lies beneath our feet, earth still sings her ancient tunes -

and we hear, dance - maybe off-key, hard of hearing,

but still in the natural choir with everything else alive.

I admire those poor countries - knowing Hunger

as an entity born strong, which lingers, infiltrates;

killed, just resurrects - a walking, living skeleton

with child-big eyes, who still reject this promised

bumper crop, bred with weirdo genes;

abomination under ill, hothoused Sun.

And if I were not a mother who cannot go to jail -

I would be out there in the moonlight with the kids,

young people tearing up abomination crops, innocently

perverting wild, defenceless, ancient, sacred neighbours.

I would join this human scythe,

fell them for the purging fire -

for men rush in where Nature fears to tread -

Angels of the Crop, the golden blazing angels

of the ripened field, who dazzle as they pass

through burning barley cauldrons, dropping

poppy tears of blood to sign this sacrament

of food to feed the whole world given time;

every summer since the start of cultivation -

until their gold whiskered wings ripple through

the moving crop as one, as the moth who has

become as tree bark, by being there so long -

already they are linking arms around the fields,

blinding in the sun - but the honey bees swarm

their woven nets of thickened evening light,

dusty wind can’t help but sneeze gold dust

everywhere around - must carry on its journey,

which knows no boundary even to the far stars.

We must all link arms around contaminated,

poisoned fields, grafittied angels of the crop;

protect the scripted being of the wheat – poetry

of barley, moving with a single spread thought;

ears of corn listening all to the same instruction,

music from the open throat of summer, to ripen;

preserve the industrious word of fertilising bee,

poem of the flower opening, journeying pollen.

The old bread in our stomachs, story of cereal,

is the untrammelled, translated gold of heaven. 

‘Biotechnology can also be used to prevent pollution in the first place. For instance, microorganisms and their enzymes can replace highly toxic chemicals in the bleaching of paper or the ‘stone-washing’ of blue jeans. Biotechnology can also provide biological alternatives to pesticides, fertilisers, or industrial solvents and lubricants. In addition, environmental biotechnologies are being used to clean up gaseous, liquid and solid wastes before these leave factories and to reduce the use of pesticides and weed-killers inagriculture…Genetically modified plants also have a role in pollution treatment; they can remove toxic heavy metals from contaminated soil. Genomic studies in marine organisms may have practical value. For instance, researchershave identified some of the genes that make bladderwrack seaweed tolerant of heavy metal pollution.These genes could help in environmental monitoring at sea and on the land by guiding the design of genetic probes.They might also be useful in efforts to clean up polluted land…Importantly, genomics could allow farmers to use crops that are adapted to their environments rather than those that demand that the environment is changed (by chemical treatments) to suit them. New varieties that are able to tolerate drought, heat, cold or salty conditions could enable food production to be increased, particularly in developing countries, without taking more land under cultivation. Salt tolerance is also important in the developed world where irrigation has reduced soil quality.Genomics will reveal the genes that are important for nutrient production, flavour or texture…Agriculture’s environmental impact and farming costs could both be reduced by crops that have enhanced resistance to disease and, therefore, require less fungicide and other chemical treatments.’ Demystifying Genomics, Medical Research Council, UK, 2000 

‘The final results of the Farm Scale Evaluations, published today, have shown that if GM herbicide tolerant spring oilseed rape were grown it would be detrimental to farmers and wildlife. The results show that broad-leaved weed numbers were reduced whereas grass weeds increased. Numbers of some bees and butterflies were also lower in the GM crop. Broad-leaved weeds are the most important plants for bird species. GeneWatch Director, Dr. Sue Mayer said: "These results are another good reason to abandon all plans for growing GM oilseed rape in the UK. This crop is bad for wildlife and will inevitably cause contamination of non-GM crops and wild relatives. Following the previous Farm Scale Evaluation results, this is the final nail in the coffin for GM crops".’ Genewatch 2005

‘According to press reports, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) interim report on the GM dispute brought by the USA, Canada and Argentina, is that Europe’s six year moratorium on GM crop approvals between 1998 and 2004 broke trade rules. The WTO is also reported to have said that individual country bans on some GM crops and foods also broke trade rules. However, other parts of the preliminary decision are said to be more mixed. Because the WTO dispute process is secretive, the full details will only emerge if the report is leaked."It was a serious misjudgement on the part of the USA to bring this complaint. Their apparent victory is likely to be very hollow because people are unlikely to accept the WTOs authority and start buying GM food," said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK’s Director. "Europe halted GM approvals not to erect a trade barrier, but because people wanted rules which would protect the environment and human health as well as providing choice. If the US had had its way we’d be growing GM herbicide tolerant crops in Britain which we now know would be damaging to farmland wildlife because of research conducted during the moratorium"…”The biotech industry may regret the day this dispute was brought. In the same way mixing GM with non-GM soya in 1997 ignited a public controversy, the ruling will not reassure people about the industry’s intentions and public rejection of GM could intensify. The WTO is also unlikely to gain credibility from the case," said Dr Mayer. "The US and biotech industry hoped that by bringing a WTO dispute they would be able to bully countries into accepting GM food. The public around the world continues to show they are not convinced and any US ‘victory’ is likely to be hollow,’ said Dr Sue Mayer GeneWatch UK’s Director. "The USA and the biotech industry has shown itself unable to judge this issue well from the very beginning when it first exported GM soya mixed with non-GM soya in 1996 and started the whole controversy”.’ Genewatch, 2006

Turn it back into seed -

rewind, burn; what gut

feeling says to the old mind -

nerve-prickle, heart-shadow,

is subtle, sophisticated fruit

of Evolution, instinct honed

by survival; primaeval genes

preserved for good reason -

as helpmeet for each species,

even the disconnected human;

the voice in the primate head,

emotional word without letter,

vocabulary beyond the code,

life’s writing, understanding

beyond current comprehension;

such red flags mean a warning,

as surely as Nature has painted

the wasp, arrow-frog, snake -

cannot be dismissed, derogatorily,

as superstition or naïve sentiment,

but are words in a language

we have forgotten, but need.

Note from the author
exploring the project

    Gene Zoo
    Gene Garden
        Terminator Technology
    Earth Poems

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