Right on Perils – Wrong on Proposals

Professor John Beddington, the Daily Telegraph’s new favourite bearded authority, the Government’s Chief Scientist Adviser, has been talking up the risks of compounded crises from environmental stress.

I don’t know exactly why the Government has made this beard their new head geek. And I don’t know why the Daily Telegraph has adopted this beard as their new star. But it is definitely something about the beard in my view.

Are beards supposed to make a scientist trustworthy ? What about women scientists ? Do they need to have beards as well ? Or do women never make it to Chief ?

Anyway, apparently, Economic Growth combined with Population Growth, will put enormous pressure on Food supplies, Energy supplies and the Climate, and Climate Change will affect Food supplies and Energy supplies further, so creating a “perfect storm”.

Well, yes, all very right and proper to mention, except the minor detaill-ette that those people in the World who are reproducing the fastest are not consuming the most Food and Energy, so Population Growth may not be the biggest bugbear in the room, actually. Yes, it might be that Economic Growth is the fattest problem in the end, but we don’t want to hear that, do we ?

But moving on from the perils, which bearded John has fairly correctly identified. Look at what he proposes as part of his palette of solutions :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5015051/Food-a…

“He said we need more disease-resistant and pest-resistant plants and better practices, better harvesting procedures.”

“Prof Beddington said climate change would mean Northern Europe would become new key centres for food production and other areas would need to use more advanced pesiticides.”

Now, let me translate that for you.

More “disease-resistant and pest-resistant plants” actually means Genetically Modified Organisms – you know – Frankenstein Foods.
I’m not being ideologically challenged here – they’re not a bogeyman technology in social folklore for nothing – there is now plenty of evidence that GM poses risks at worst, and at best shows no advantages overall :-

http://www.foei.org/en/publications/pdfs/gmcrops2007highl…

http://www.sgr.org.uk/GMOs.html

And “advanced pesticides” ? Well, that’s not exactly going to help. The “advanced pesticides” would probably be used with the advanced GM that would be developed. And they would probably be put into use in agriculture too soon, before any potential side effects have been uncovered, judging by what’s happened so far.

And what potential side effects are we talking about ? Well, the April 2009 Scientific American unpacks part of the current research evidence on mass Bee Death or “Colony Collapse Disorder” in an article called “Saving the Honeybee : Solving the Mystery of the Vanishing Bees”. There is some discussion about the role pesticides are playing, but, as yet, the full evidence is not yet in.

That didn’t stop the European Union banning a variety of pesticides from agricultural use this month, however :-

http://www.euractiv.com/en/cap/eu-completes-16-year-pesti…

http://en.greenplanet.net/news-in-brief/news-in-brief/358…

What has Climate Change got to do with chemical companies masquerading as seed development technologists ? Professor John Beddington delivers GM up as a proposal for fighting Climate Change, much like Sir David King before him (who doesn’t have a beard…oh well. Pet theory scotched.).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_King_(scientist)

The conclusion must be drawn that probably GM technology is all about large, private agrochemical companies taking advantage of agricultural systems, leveraging Government support to win market share for their products by association with Government scientific bodies :-

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/ne…

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/goldenRiceScandal.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food

Just because he’s got a beard, doesn’t make John Beddington right.

Should I be too heavy on him just because he’s got a beard ? The following seems to indicate more sanity, but it masks the GM connection that is clearly there :-

http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=8948

“The challenge for agriculture is to grow more food on less land because of urbanisation, climate change and so on with less water, using less fertiliser and less pesticides than we have historically done”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/18/perfect-sto…

“Beddington said that shifts in the climate will see northern Europe and other high-latitude regions become key centres for food production. Other more traditional farming nations will have to develop more advanced pesticides or more hardy crops to boost yields, he said. In some countries, almost half of all crops are lost to pests and disease before they are harvested. Substantial amounts of food are lost after haversting, too, because of insufficient storage facilities. // Beddington said a major technological push is needed to develop renewable energy supplies, boost crop yields and better utilise existing water supplies.”

Was the emphasis on “advanced pesticides” created by the Daily Telegraph focussing on GM-related statements ?

Yes, but, yes, but…why is John Beddington talking about Climate Change, when he appears to have absolutely no background in it ?

http://www.berr.gov.uk/dius/science/science-tech-and-dti/…

Is he just hitching a ride on the Climate Change bandwagon ?

Why can’t you believe all you read about the Science of Genetically Modified Foods. Because the links between the research on GMOs and the corporates that are pushing them are very, very incestuous.

Follow the trail of the links :-

http://www.ifr.ac.uk/Media/NewsReleases/090209MakingSense…
http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php
http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/projec…

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