SIRC – Media Watch 22-10-99
Seeds in the breeze and panic in the air
Reports of the spread of this country's GM suspicion abroad have also been prevalent in both the domestic and foreign media this month. The Financial Times October 12 reported on the recent Greenpeace campaign in Mexico. Charging Novartis with "genetic imperialism" Greenpeace has seized samples from ships anchored in the Gulf and suggested that the seeds may be blown from rail carriages during their transportation and thus may affect and disrupt the bio-diversity of Mexican agriculture.
Perception of Europe's anti-GM protests seems to be on the increase in America also. The Sunday Telegraph reported the findings of a Gallup poll, published at the beginning of October, which found 68% of American adults wanting GM food to be labelled and 47% of them saying that they would not then be prepared to purchase such foods. In a country where GM produce is said to account for 70% of the contents on offer on supermarket shelves, this has caused a certain level of anxiety. Groups such as the American Corn Growers Association for example have been advising their members to stay clear of GM corn. A comment piece in the LA Times Turn down the heat in the food feud, suggested that Europe's fear of food was primarily fuelled by scares of a non-biotech nature but went on to advocate open discussions to prevent a full-blown trade war. "Clearly, what's needed now is for both sides of this issue to stop hurling accusations and threatening retribution and start talking. Independent scientists, environmentalists and consumers must be included in the regulatory review. U.S. and European regulators should get together and seek a solution acceptable to both sides. After all, what's at stake is a science that all agree has huge benefits to offer."
It would also appear that the direct action techniques employed by the environmental campaigners might also have crossed the Atlantic. An editorial in the St Petersburg Times cites once such group; the Bolt Weevils based in Minnesota as destroying a Novartis research field.