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March 28th, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

Why did activists trash experimental crops of genetically modified (GM) maize and oilseed rape in the 1990s in the UK? Why were their activities closely followed by a pliant media?

Not having been closely involved with plant breeding, my first reaction was to wonder what I had missed that led the apparently well-meaning vandals to don their white pseudo-forensic outfits and start scaremongering through their talk of “Frankenfood”.

Apart from their hatred of Monsanto — and by extension the whole agrochemical industry – and their objection to anything that they perceived as unnatural, it was, and still is, difficult to understand the basis for their objections. There is no evidence supporting their claims of harm so what were their true motives?

It quickly became apparent that the organic farming movement was in the vanguard of the opposition to GM crops, together with Friends of the Earth. In the US, the organic movement is a major contributor to the anti-GM campaign. The question that has to be asked is this: Are they motivated to save the world from unspecified harm or is the real motivation to protect profits and a strong marketing tool for a niche market?

So began my study of the history of the organic movement in the hope that I would find the evidence to support not only their opposition to GM but also their earlier objections to fertilizers and pesticides. The result was eventually my new book: “Conventional and Organic Farming – A Comprehensive Review through the Lens of Agricultural Science.” Read more