When will sense shout louder than profit?

By Martin Kirby

I have just re-watched the film “1984”. It is 20 years since I last saw it, 30 or more since I read the book. It still sends a shiver down my spine. How I wish Eric Arthur Blair was alive. He would take up the pen to wage polemic journalism and, I dream, produce a novel to shake Spain, Britain, Europe, America and the world from their stupor.

You and I know him by his literary name, George Orwell, author of Homage to Catalonia, The Road to Wigan Pier, Animal Farm. His renowned abhorrence of social injustice and totalitarianism, together with the great weight of his words, are so desperately needed now.

The issue is the oligarchy of agricultural “innovation”, and with it the brilliantly insane, money-making genetic manipulation of the natural world. I am against nuclear power. It is extraordinary ingenuity, but we have no answer to the legacies.

Genetic modification of crops is its food chain parallel. Neither of these world-changing sciences stands the simple test of sense. You knew (didn’t you?) that Spain is by a very, VERY long way Europe’s largest producer of GM harvests, a staggering 80,000 hectares. Here production is ten times higher than any other country on the continent. The corn fields of Aragon, where Orwell fought for the Republic, is now the battleground for awareness regarding the widespread cultivation of Bt maize. You are aware (aren’t you?) that Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis, is a soil bacteria and that scientists have incorporated a gene from it into the plants that now give out a toxin that is poisonous to pests.

That is just one seed of plant “redesign” among many. You are no doubt fully aware (aren’t you?) which products you buy contain this GM corn. But, in truth, we common folk don’t know, do we? And not even the few dominant, fundamentally profit-driven giant corporations who have opened this box of irreversible mysteries can know the long-term consequences. World Environment Day has been on the fifth of June for years, but did it register with you? I’m sorry, but I doubt it.

Biodiversity – safeguarding the variety of life on Earth - is so so so important, and 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. But how many people know what the word means and, indeed, care what bearing GM science could have on it? Oh how I wish you would. I bet many of you will be stunned, engrossed and motivated.

It is not a 1984 thought crime to search for more information, to educate ourselves about our food, our besieged environment. Big Brother is not watching you. Think long and hard about what you are putting in your body and ask yourself simply, what are we allowing to happen?

History surely teaches us to respect nature and to work with it in balance and harmony. But we are far too clever a species to learn. The greed is for profit. There are so many issues relating to this, not least world hunger, so go on to the internet and on to sites like YouTube and search for Food Inc and all films relating to GM.

It is, for sure, the stuff of an Orwellian novel.


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