The Europeans have no shame. They’re backing their resistance to genetically modified crops with lab testing but when it comes to accepting organic shipments they just take everyone’s word for it on paper.
According to EU policy, regular flax shipments will all be tested and will be rejected if merely one seed in 10,000 is found to contain a trace of an unapproved GM strain. Premium-priced organic crops will continue to go untested.
Anti-GM activists want an unscientific, de-industrialized, anti-corporate food production system.
These activists infiltrated an otherwise legitimate organic movement founded by such European scientific luminaries as German agronomist Albrect Daniel Thaer (1752-1828), the first to advance the humus theory of plant nutrition, British botanist Sir Albert Howard (1873-1947) who brought the concept of compost inoculation to the West, and Lady Eve Balfour (1899-1990) who conducted scientific comparisons between conventional and organic methods over 30 years.
Rather than build on these empirical foundations, the organic activists resort to politics. The rules of what’s alleged to be good for the planet have been finalized by the highest federal authorities. The science, they claim, is settled. No organic field testing required! Imagine that.
Organic crops are never tested to ensure they’re genuine or to drive improvement. Adequate hardly begins to describe it. Pay your fees, complete the forms and (presto!) you’re “certified,” and free to sell at a premium.
And yet European activists see nothing contradictory in demanding we test crops here in Canada to make sure they contain effectively no trace of GM contamination. Our authorities have chosen to play along with the charade, the goal of which is not only the suppression of the valid science of genetic engineering, but the suppression of all science and the deindustrialization of agriculture.
With a condescending pat on the head from the European Union, mass testing of Canadian flax will now become the norm. Meanwhile, toxic pesticide contamination in a certified organic harvest which is known to cause harm (unlike GM technology which is safe), well that’s just fine. And illicit synthetic fertilizer use, the easiest and most lucrative way to cheat on organic certification whether you’re Canadian, Mexican or Chinese? Well, that’s fine too.
Farmers are assured that when GM flax is discovered the industry will assist in selling it into a market that will accept it. But by caving in we have just shrunk that market, and ceded the moral high ground to the Europeans. We’re agreeing it’s right to reject science except when using it to fight GM technology.
Ironic? Hold onto your hat. European scientists developed all the basic components of modern-day, conventional agriculture. The ammonia synthesis process that pulls nitrogen from the air, the first herbicides and pesticides, even the lion’s share of crop breeding prior to the 1960s are all of European intellectual origin.
The only reason the Europeans are opposed to genetic engineering is that their scientists didn’t come up with it.
Canadian authorities will say they had no choice. But Canadians will think otherwise when the activists finally get their way and the advancement of farming is stopped altogether.
Mischa Popoff is a former organic inspector based in Osoyoos, B.C.