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Real World Radio interviewed Eric Darier about how Monsanto’s GM trials contaminate crops and citizens in the United States, and the role of citizens in the fight against agribusiness corporations.
A strain of unauthorized genetically modified wheat was discovered in Oregon ten days ago. It had already been tested by Monsanto in 16 states between 1998 and 2005.
The crop had been modified to resist the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) sold by the same company. The same variety was also tested in an experimental farm of Agriculture and Agri-Food in Manitoba (Canada) in 2003. On Tuesday 11th, 75,000 people (5,000 short of the 80,000 needed) signed a petition to the US Department of Agriculture to end all GM crops tests in the fields, in the United States.
This happened as the US corporation began new tests on wheat last week in North Dakota, to develop a seed resistant to drought and other weedkillers besides Roundup. This happened despite the fact that no GM wheat is authorized in the world. The move had economic impacts: about 90% of the wheat produced in Oregon is for export, particularly to Asia. Japan already suspended a tender and the European Union announced they will run tests on U.S. wheat, which price dropped.
Currently, nobody can tell how these GM seeds have been introduced in these fields. Monsanto said it was likely the result of an accident or of a "sabotage". According to Greenpeace, US authorities said this GM seed was safe, based on Monsanto’s words.
According to the Center for Food Safety (CFS), federal regulators have “a terrible track record” of overseeing GMO field trials. In a statement, CFS pointed to past lawsuits in Hawaii and Oregon where the USDA was forced to admit field trial contamination incidents that had previously been kept secret. Eric Darier said Monsanto’s strategy has closed links with politicians:
« There are very closed relations between companies and governments, it’s what we call the revolving doors, which is basically public officials who after working and drafting policies for governments, go and work for Monsanto, or vice-versa.»
The main problem in terms of biodiversity is that if varieties are lost because they’ve been contaminated one can never get them back. One more limit crossed by the American giant.
«I think it’s important to know that it’s when people mobilize that usually we have a chance to make sure that the public good is maintained», repeats Eric Darier.
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