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Our farm is thriving with life. From the myriad of different birds, to the hares, and butterflies. There is life everywhere, biodiversity, and this is the richness of what a mixed organic farming enterprise helps create. It is not just the animal and plant life either, there are the team of harvesters and planters, out in the fields tending the crops and it is quite extraordinary that a business such as ours, which is relatively small can support so many different people.
This is the essence of sustainable local agriculture. We have waited some time this spring for the harvest to begin, but finally after a slow start we are embracing all the land and the hard work has to offer. The bounty is beginning to roll in, beautiful fresh organic produce. The list is increasing weekly, cucumbers, salad, rocket, bunched beetroot, cabbage, scallions, kale and spinach and much much more to come.
This is the amazing time when the taste and the freshness of what we do here can leave a lasting impression, something deep and meaningful with us as producers and you as consumers. The food we eat, our health and the health of the fragile earth are so and indisputably linked, if we respect this link then I think we will find that we can live a happier and healthier existence.
It is with this backdrop that I turn my gaze this week to the movement that is trying to make genetically modified food part of our life, without our consent or awareness. There can be little doubt that the recent panorama programme shot by the BBC was pro GM.
As an organic chemist having worked in the biotech industry, I have a healthy respect for science and the vast improvements and privileges it has brought to our lives. There is no question that scientific progress has led to deceased disease and improved standards of living across the developed world.
There certainly is much fear and propaganda on both sides of the GM debate and it seems to me that you can make up your own mind by standing back and looking at the facts.
However the panorama programme did not stand back and look at all the facts, it did not give a balanced view of the situation, it did not discuss the three major crops that are genetically modified, soya, corn and cotton. The rights to the first two are owned by Monsanto and their growth has not conferred any benefits on farmer or consumer.
The facts are:
This is a very serious business, with vast sums of money at stake for major corporate players. Yes from a scientific point of view we can respect advances in science and put them to use to help produce a fairer and more sustainable future for all. But the argument that GM is required to feed the world is simply not a valid statement.
Genetically modification technology has helped us learn a huge amount about disease and human biology, its uses and application in medicine and diagnostics are well documented and will continue to yield massive benefits to human kind. However the whole principle of GM crops is built on a foundation of sand.
“Claims for the safety and efficacy of GM crops are often based on dubious evidence or no evidence at all. The GMO industry is built on myths” author Claire Robinson
But we can choose to grow organically in our own gardens, and not to use insecticides and herbicides. We can choose to buy organic and locally produced food when we can and when we can afford to.
Here’s to healthy eating.
PS: if you are interested in scientific information related to GM please look here