[UPDATE: I have now received a response from the BBC dismissing my argument that the programme was biased but failing to answer my charge that Radio 4 programming as a whole is biased in favour of GM. I have responded to this, asking for a response to this latter charge.]
I was greatly disturbed to hear yet another pro-GM propaganda piece by the BBC. (See my previous blog entries about this.) Botanist Sandy Knapp, clearly no expert on GM, was led by interviewer Jim Al-Khalili to imply that anti-GM activists would be responsible for the destruction of the natural areas in which she gathers plants.
I was troubled to hear your presenter leading his interviewee (not a GM expert) in a pro-GM direction. He said something like, ‘If more GM crops are not produced I have heard that this will lead to the destruction of more of the wild areas in which you are working so that food crops can be grown. Is this true?’ Not at any point did he mention that opposition to GM crops is based on a broad array of arguments, not least the following:
1. Vast areas of rainforest have already been destroyed for the cultivation of GM soya.
2. As GM crops are patented, their seed cannot legally be harvested and re-sown (and some are not fertile anyway) . This is harmful to the food sovereignty and wealth of peasant farmers, who are forced to buy new seed every year,
3. GM crops displace multiple varieties of adapted indigenous crops, thus narrowing biodiversity and reducing the genetic base on which the breeding of future productive crops depends.
4. More than enough food is produced already – the issue is distribution and waste. The latter issues are due to profiteering by large corporations. How is putting more food production into their grasp going to improve this?
5. The most productive forms of agriculture, both absolutely but also and especially relative to the unsustainable input of fossil fuels, are small-scale integrated farms using organic and/or permaculture and analog-forestry techniques.
6. This adds to previous Radio 4 pro-GM bias. See https://biowrite.wordpress.com/?s=bbc+gm
I could also have mentioned the fact that huge amounts of food that could be consumed by people are fed to animals, because the relatively well-off eat far too much meat, but the BBC form only allowed me to write so much. On this topic, I intend reading Farmageddon soon.
Finally, in case you think I am an armchair critic, doing nothing practical in this area, I am proud to be a member of the board of Leith Community Crops in Pots. We are doing our bit to produce food in a sustainable way. Here’s our Facebook page.