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Boris Johnson, GMOs and Glyphosate: Irresponsible, Negligent and Criminal?

Colin Todhunter

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves after giving a speech outside 10 Downing Street in London on July 24, 2019 (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

In his first speech to parliament as British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said:

Let’s start now to liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules and let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world.”

Johnson reads from a well-rehearsed script. The ‘GM will feed the world mantra’ is pure industry spin. There is already enough food being produced to feed the global population yet around 830 million are classed as hungry.

Feeding the world effectively, sustainably and equitably involves addressing the in-built injustices of the global food system.

The never-ending push to force GM on the public under the guise of saving humanity is a diversion that leaves intact the root causes of world hunger and undernutrition: neoliberal deregulation and privatisation policies, unfair WTO rules, poverty, land rights issues, World Bank/IMF geopolitical lending strategies and the transformation of food secure regions into food deficit ones, etc.

Even in regions where productivity in agriculture lags behind or concerns exist about climate change, numerous high-level reports have recommended that (non-GMO) agroecological practices should be encouraged to enhance biodiversity and deal with food and climate crises.

However, pro-Brexiteer Conservative politicians talk of the essential need for Britain and the world to adopt GM is little more than an attempt to justify a post-Brexit trade deal with Washington that will effectively incorporate the UK into the US’s regulatory food regime.

The type of ‘liberation’ Johnson really means is the UK adopting unassessed GM crops and food and a gutting of food safety and environmental standards.

It is no secret that various Conservative-led administrations have wanted to break free from the EU regulatory framework on GM for some time.

Back in 2014, Genewatch exposed collusion between the government and transnational corporations to force GM into Britain above the heads of the public. 

This is despite numerous surveys over the years showing that most of the British public remain sceptical of GM, do not see a need for it or reject the technology outright.

Rosemary Mason writes to Jonathan Jones

It would be reasonable to ask why GMOs are even on the market in the first place given that, in his book ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truths’ (2015), US lawyer Steven Druker set out in detail how GM could well be based on the greatest scientific fraud of our age.

This is something environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason points out in a recent open letter to Dr Jonathan Jones, Head of the Sainsbury Laboratory in the UK, and his colleague, fellow US-based plant scientist Jeffrey Dangl.

In April, Jones received the go-ahead from the British government to carry out field tests on GM potatoes in fields in Suffolk and Cambridge. He was given permission to proceed despite Druker’s findings and Caius Rommens, former GMO potato scientist with Monsanto, raising serious concerns about genetic engineering.

In a new report by Mason, which she has sent with her letter to Jones, Rommens is quoted as saying:

We also assumed that theoretical knowledge was all we needed to succeed, and that a single genetic change would always have one intentional effect only. We were supposed to understand DNA and to make valuable modifications, but the fact of the matter was that we knew as little about DNA as the average American knows about the Sanskrit version of the Bhagavad Gita. We just knew enough to be dangerous, especially when combined with our bias and narrowmindedness.”

If that was the state of knowledge (or lack of it) at Monsanto, then what of glyphosate-based Roundup, the company’s weedicide widely used in conjunction with GM crops?

We already know from the ‘Monsanto Papers’ that ghost writing, cover-ups and duplicity seemed to be the order of the day as the company sought at all costs to protect its multi-billion-dollar money-spinner from being taken off the market.

If genetically engineered ‘Roundup ready’ crops – are introduced to fields in Britain, the use of glyphosate could accelerate even further. In her various reports over the years, Mason has shown the massive increase in the use of the weedicide in farming and the correlation with a huge spike in various diseases and conditions in the UK.

Mason wants to make it clear to Jones that when plant physiologists like him say that that glyphosate/Roundup only affects plants, fungi and bacteria and doesn’t affect humans, they are wrong.

She says to Jones:

You claimed, together with Monsanto and global pesticide regulators, that Roundup only affects plants, fungi and bacteria because they had the shikimate pathway which is absent in humans and animals. But humans and animals have trillions of bacteria in their gut: the gut microbiome, the collective genome of organisms inhabiting our body.”

Mason states that obesity is associated with low diversity of bacteria in the microbiome and glyphosate destroys most of the beneficial bacteria and leaves the toxic bacteria behind. In effect, she argues, Roundup (and other biocides) are a major cause of gross obesity, neuropsychiatric disorders and other chronic diseases including cancers, which are all on the rise.

Her report refers to numerous studies, including a paper in Nature to argue that obesity is associated with low bacterial richness in the gut (Chatelier, E.L. et al. Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers: Nature, 2013).

Mason also draws attention to a multi-author study (Wang, Y. et al, The Gut-Microglia Connection: Implications for Central Nervous System Diseases: Frontiers in Immunology, 2018) which postulates the microbiome has relevance for both gastrointestinal and brain disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson’s disease and even demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system.

She adds:

Glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway within these gut bacteria, without which we cannot survive. Glyphosate is a strong chelator of essential minerals, such as cobalt, zinc, manganese, calcium, molybdenum and sulphate… Two key problems caused by glyphosate residues in our diet are nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals and essential amino-acids, and systemic toxicity.”

Mason refers to Dr Don Huber, an expert on glyphosate and a senior US plant scientist, who explains that Roundup, as a mineral chelator, probably causes cancer.

Some years ago, Huber wrote to the US Secretary of Agriculture about a pathogen new to science that could significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably human beings. He argued it is widespread, very serious and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready soybeans and corn – suggesting a link with Roundup.

Rosemary Mason’s 20-plus page report is wide raging in scope and refers to various published peer-reviewed papers to support her arguments (it can be read in full on the academia.edu site).

Aside from the effects of (the widespread prevalence of) glyphosate and other agrochemicals on human health – especially and disturbingly the exposure and impacts on children and child development – she discusses the environmental costs, including pesticide run off into seas and oceans, the ongoing destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, algae blooms and the fungicidal action of Roundup which is destroying the means by which trees communicate and look after each other.

In relation to sanctioning the continued use of glyphosate in Europe, Mason notes that it was totally unacceptable, possibly negligent or even criminal, for the European Union to have allowed a group of plant scientists on the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) – whose knowledge of human physiology was so lacking that they did not recognise that glyphosate has effects on humans – to make decisions that affect human health.

PAFF’s role was pivotal in the decision to re-licence the use of glyphosate in the EU in 2017. Although a list of its members is not made public, as a phytopharmaceuticals committee involved in the authorisation of pesticides, Mason presumes plant physiologists were amply represented and held sway.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that in the UK between May 2010 and the end of 2013, the Department of Health had 130 meetings with representatives of the agrochemicals/GM sector.

If Mason’s letter to Jones tells us anything, it is that the British public need to think long and hard about whose interests are really being served when Boris Johnson and others in high office extol the ‘virtues’ of GM agriculture and its associated chemical inputs.

Colin Todhunter is an independent journalist who writes on development, environmental issues, politics, food and agriculture. He was named in August 2018 by Transcend Media Services as one of 400 Living Peace and Justice Leaders and Models in recognition of his journalism.

Filed under: environment, GMO, latest

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Colin Todhunter is an independent journalist who writes on development, environmental issues, politics, food and agriculture. He was named in August 2018 by Transcend Media Services as one of 400 Living Peace and Justice Leaders and Models in recognition of his journalism.

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M.K. Styllinski

Great article.

The myth of feeding the world with GM crops has been thoroughly trashed for many years and it just confirms the fact – regardless of left-right bias – that Johnson has always been a power-hungry buffoon who has always been prepared to whore himself out to whatever Establishment-Corporate directive will get him into No.10.

Doctortrinate
Doctortrinate

the man is but another half-baked fruitcake cooked up by lunatics – therefore, anyone happy to chew on his blah blah pabulum – is no more than a sunken pinhead (imo)…..ye know, like those childish stooping accessories that Vote them into power….and expose remains of us to the rap – and all for what – Their depraved amusement ?

Mucho
Mucho

The truth about Boris Johnson’s real identity is in this video. It is a must watch. Bojo is American, born in New York City. He could well be nothing but a plant, and he’s about to close down Parliament so he can fudge through some legislation on behalf of his masters.
Is anyone is the UK patriotic any more, or does patriotism in the UK just mean you’re a numbskull twat who likes Tommy Robinson, another Zionist funded plant hellbent on wrecking our society?
Fooled by the scruffy public schoolboy act this liar has perfected?
Boris Johnson is American by birth, and he is just about to sell our country out to the Americans. No-one is talking about this. No wonder this country is so fucked. The Brits are a spineless nation of political eunuchs, mind controlled to the nth degree. Sad but true.
OPUS 168 Boris Badenov Johnson

bob
bob

You wanna send this to my local farmer – surrounded on three sides by his farm i’ve spent all weekend bombarded by combine harvesters until 10.30pm each night as they rapidly harvest the crop so that they can plough and seed the next one, by the end of this week …. the owner lives in Australia or iIreland or South Africa depending on mood, them diamonds have bought him riches untold .. he likes to be called Sir!

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

When he says ‘Let’s’ he means LET💲💲💲💲💲💲💲💲💲
Avarice rules.

Aiwl
Aiwl

So, the United Kingdom now has a glyphosates-laden Frankenstein as a prime minister?

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar

Well the obvious point to note here is that Russia has done well championing non GMO agriculture, hence a Uk political party must have scope to do the same here.

Expect US interference in the next UK General Election. The US has contempt for any democracy that reflects the will of the people, not the interests of US billionaires.

Boris Johnson’s current covert manifesto:
1. Remove all food standards to allow invasion of chlorinated chickens from USA etc.
2. Use UK taxpayer money to fund wars of no benefit to British people, on the orders of the US.
3. Remove all infrastructure projects benefitting the north to fund yet more London projects.

I am waiting for a long list of policies I can vote for, as those three are red flags to a smaller or greater degree.

mark
mark

Maybe we’ll get US style loyalty oaths to Israel as well.

Mucho
Mucho

Boris Johnson IS American, born in New York City.

Alex
Alex

What’s your problem with the use of molecular biology being used to breed crops

Gordon
Gordon

Are you really posing this question? On what basis? Molecular biology enables the introduction of a glyphosate – resistant gene and that’s the end of its involvement. The rest is marketing (and money) to enable the use of this destructive and toxic chemical to allow the killing of everything not containing the introduced gene. Molecular biology is not to blame. Did you read and understand the article?

mark
mark

We can soon look forward to chlorine flavour chicken.
Kraft rubber cheese.
And Hershey plastic chocolate.
All washed down with lashings of Glyphosate.

Yum, yum!

nottheonly1
nottheonly1

I will always reject the belief that those responsible are not in the business of population reduction. Euthanasia via poisoning of the masses. Nothing else makes sense. These cretinous people know exactly what they are doing. They are not in the business of making the masses healthy.

The real problem is that these ‘people’ are above the law, where laws are still intact to prevent such poisoning. But through bribing legislators, they are writing ‘laws’ that favor their poisonous activities. I would even go so far as to allege that those ‘politicians’ and smearnalists (not journalists) know very well what the intended goal is: reduction of the global population and destruction of natural farming methods by destroying the micro organisms that constitute healthy soil. GMO is like plastic crop, growing in dead substrate.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar

There is a very vibrant bottom up revival of rebuilding healthy soil ecology, so I doubt the idiots will win just yet. I would suggest that local communities will before 2025 have set up the first GMO and RoundUp free zones, creating areas of 100 odd square miles where no farmer can use the stuff. Nothing illegal about saying democracy rules….

nottheonly1
nottheonly1

Yes, not all is lost – yet. But we (mankind) need to implement measures to make it impossible for the agripharmers to get court rulings by corrupted, ignorant, or delusional judges that give corporations the upper hand. A good example here in Uruguay is Hellmann’s mayonnaise that has a small dot print on the package: ‘OGM’ (in Spanish, GMO is OGM – Organismos Geneticamente Modificados).
Without my reading glasses, I can’t read that and even so I should wear them while shopping, I don’t. Back home I noticed the print and sure enough with my glasses I was able to read it. Next time I went back to the store, I returned it and the woman asked “What’s wrong with it? Expired?” I answered “No. It’s genetically modified and I don’t eat that.” She looked at me surprised. “Really? Where does it say that?” I showed her the ‘OGM’ imprint and she replied “Oh, I didn’t know that!” To which I said “Now you do.”

Since that day, I have my glasses handy. However, Uruguayan products are non-GMO. The GMO stuff comes from the U.S. and Brazil. A little image (from 2004!) showing where GMO is used.

Guy
Guy

A picture of the illustrious leader of the UK as if he was in his man cave. LOL
comment image

mark
mark

I’m so grateful to be ruled over by my Betters in the Eton/ Bullingdon Club Set.
If I had a forelock, I would tug it vigorously.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar

He is not your better, he just euthanased his moral compass at Oxford to enable him to enter politics.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

Psychos in suits.
Can’t trust any of them.

Guy
Guy

If anyone wants to learn more on the genetic manipulation of the genes in plants ,you should read
the book by Jefferey M.Smith ” Seeds of Deception” .Well written and very educational .We truly have been deceived. Thank you OffGuardian for having brought this subject up for discussion ,it is so very important to know about how industry has taken taken mankind on a poisonous road.
https://seedsofdeception.com/about-jeffrey/

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar

The whole thing about GM crops is creating sterile variants so only the GMO companies can produce seeds, thus rendering farmers their eternal slaves.

Open pollination seed generation is now entering a revival and my experience is that they are high quality. I cannot speak for the world, but the UKz is not going to lose its open pollinated strains any time soon.

John A
John A

While there is a lot of ignorance among Tories, they are not known as the Stupid Party for nothing, I really don’t think the dogs will eat the dogfood in the case of GMO muck, chlorinated chicken etc.

wardropper
wardropper

Probably depends on how close to starvation the dogs are, not to mention how close we could end up being ourselves…
And starvation is only one of the many colours in our ” representatives’ ” palette of greed.
If, and when, starvation comes, it won’t be by accident, any more than starvation in many parts of Africa is an accident.
If we just remember that everything of which an actual thinking person has learned to be highly suspicious is about Control, Control, Control, we’ll be able to see through to the soulless sub-human narrative behind it.
As a western species, we are already much easier to control than our grandparents were, and we also hear far less often the once-common, “What? They must be joking! Do they think I was born yesterday?”
As Caitlin Johnstone wisely says, “they” could never survive without their “narrative”, and so, all we really need to do to stop their wickedness is to replace their narrative with the truth, again and again, just as they replace the truth with their lies.
The answer is simply to know the truth and to tell the truth.
Knowing the truth takes work, and telling the truth takes courage, but millions of us know how to do both, and that’s OUR narrative.

mark
mark

If you look at processed meat in America, it is a mixture of “reconstituted beef, pork and chicken.”

Really yummy at $5 a packet.

nottheonly1
nottheonly1

Yes. That why it is called beef product, pork product, chicken product and cheese product. The secret formula to sell this crap is “ON SALE!”…

John A
John A

Plus in the US, the giant muck masquerading as food producers have successfully lobbied to prevent proper labelling – more ‘red tape’ – for the Tories to get rid of in Britain when they open the welcome mat to all that shite.

bevin
bevin

Thanks are due to Colin for this, the latest in a campaign to protect the environment-and humanity-from the capitalist plague.
They are not burning the Amazon basin in order to create arable lands for peasant agriculture but for vast tracts, farmed by machines, in which men and other species, birds and insects, are unwelcome intruders

Junaid

.Russia has begun to create the PAK DA – a promising long-range aviation complex, In Russia, began to create a bomber PAK DA: What will replace the Tu-160

In Russia, began to create a bomber PAK DA: What will replace the Tu-160

John A
John A

What has that got to do with GMO?

nottheonly1
nottheonly1

Nothing. It is an attack on this website. If people come here to take a look at this article, they get the impression that it is not credible – based on irrelevant comments. A theory.

tonyopmoc
tonyopmoc

Whilst I agree with almost everything in this article, one phrase stands out “the means by which trees communicate and look after each other.”

I am not suggesting they don’t but is there any scientific evidence that trees communicate and look after each other?

You see the problem? One phrase, can destroy the entire thesis in the minds of most people, and I think there is no problem with people who hug a tree. I’ve done it myself. The tree is very old indeed, and I love the song by Rush

“Rush – The Trees (Official Music Video)”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnC88xBPkkc

Tony

Jean Miller
Jean Miller

Colin Tudge’s excellent book, The Secret Life of Trees, is well worth a read in order to understand how trees communicate with each other, and look after each other. It is a fascinating book.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

“I am not suggesting they don’t but is there any scientific evidence that trees communicate and look after each other?”

You might start by looking at the later work of Charles Darwin then move onto its further development by others since then.

Jean Miller
Jean Miller

Does Charles Darwin have much to say about polite, friendly, non-patronising responses? If so, it’s a shame you missed that part of his studies !

Jean Miller
Jean Miller

Actually, please accept my apologies Robbobbobin. Your reply isn’t impolite, but seemed a bit blunt to me, in reply to the original question posted. I tend to place too much currency on friendly, enthusiastic recommendations as a way of encouraging people to be open to new points of view. Life isn’t all rainbows and birdsong, and the fact that I wish it were, and that we were all warm and friendly to each other in every interaction online is a weakness on my part. So no hard feelings I hope, especially as my response to you wasn’t very friendly either. On my headstone it will read “Acted in haste,and now repents at leisure”. 😉

Roland Spansky
Roland Spansky

Your first opinion was correct.You were right to be annoyed because he was trying to put you down. That’s all he ever does. He never debates anything, never says anything real or interesting, never drops any actual info, he never responds to a real challenge, just rolls up, fires off patronizing allusive bullshit like the above, designed to give the impression he has like a TON of data but just can’t be bothered to share it with people as stupid as we are, and departs. I challenged him yesterday to back up his latest (then) offering, he didn’t respond (no surprise).

https://off-guardian.org/2019/08/23/amazon-burning-well-maybe-not-so-much/#comment-91342

I can only think he has such a gigantic inferiority complex it’s completely paralyzed his ability to interact in any way but with a constant stream of put downs and braggadocio.

Oh yeah and he has this annoying habit of posing as an IT guru and/or a coder, but he isn’t.

bevin
bevin

That is really unfair to Tony.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

“You were right to be annoyed because he was trying to put you down. That’s all he ever does.”

I can see the problem. Here you are, all kitted out with a highly expensive education in fuck all that might well contine to cost a fortune in the decades to come when you should have been able to use it to leverage a bit of cake already, and here am I, all kitted out with an equally diversionary education in fuck all that cost practically nothing, seeming to piss all over yours.

Actually, both my original and followup answers to Jean were full and complete answers to her question in today, as distinct from partial framings in yesterday, with the only difference being the followup’s greater loquacity. However, I doubt you’ll notice in either case, so all I can advise in the event of any future such emergency situation is Beware of The Aneurysm.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

“…please accept my apologies…”

No offence taken = any apology inappropriate.

Darwin was of the opinion that all life has a common ancestor, a hypothesis that he put forward more tentatively, partly because it bought him a significant degree of public ridicule, and somewhat later than his seemingly more reductive approach to the origin of species. However, he was also working in the golden age of reductive science that had its seeds in Aristotle’s formalization of a vital and productive train of ancient Greek thought that was only then in the midst of its first, full, post-enlightenment flowering. The Animal Kingdom was the Animal Kingdom and the Vegetable Kingdom was not.

We are now at the beginning of an age (an ongoimg atrophy of the now-pathological reductionism permitting) in which a whole new set of methodologies, only made possible by a rigid, multi-millenial and persistent adherence to the orthodoxy of Aristotelian logic and its later algebraic developments, is enabling an extraordinary expansion of the very same, highly restricted Grecian basics that brought them into existence. As Confucius noted, experience is a light shone on a path already trodden. It is of little use, more like a probable impediment, in discerning the paths of experience yet to be perceived; something that on a civilizational level is necessarily the product of many open minds with their many different ways of finding, seeing, stumbling and conjecturing independently to edge all into the still unilluminated.

To restate that in the specific concept of the biosciences: Sydney Brenner wrote a short, eminently citable article in which he put forward–in and for our times–his concept of Occams Broom. Or, as Matthew so eloquently put it an entire culture ago, “7:7”

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

To restate that in the specific context of the biosciences…

Bob
Bob

This video is short and a good introduction : “Learn about the sophisticated, underground, fungal network trees use to communicate and even share nutrients. UBC professor Suzanne Simard leads us through the forrest to investigate this underground community.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8SORM4dYG8

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

‘This video is short and a good introduction : “Learn about the sophisticated, underground, fungal network trees use to communicate and even share nutrients…’

OK but still limited in its understanding of, and a quite gratuitous slur on, Darwin’s line of thought in its opening “recap” of his (actually, the economist Spencer’s) phrase “survival of the fittest”, which phrase he (Darwin) partially accepted for specific usages (and also incorporated as such into later editions of Origin of Species) but also carefully qualified in many ways in many other places, e.g.

I fully agree with all that you [Wallace] say on the advantages of [economist] H. Spencer’s excellent expression of ‘the survival of the fittest’. This however had not occurred to me till reading your letter. It is, however, a great objection to this term that it cannot be used as a substantive governing a verb.

Also, it pays no attention to Darwin’s express view, recorded elsewhere, of plant root systems as being close analogues of animal brains in precisely the sense that we understand the word “brain”: as a medium for the development and expression of sentience.

This stuff is not readily cited as is a traditional academic citation; even to begin to approach it with simple citations while we are still in thrall to “science” in its current degeneratd state of pathological reductionism is to mislead with ideabites before even just the beginnings of a general acceptance of a whole new take on what the “scientific paradigm” is has barely begun to sink in anywhere. Then, i.e. now, the only citations worth anything are citations to careful considerations of the field occupying entire volumes, of which Jean has already suggested one, or–even better–multilingual corpuses of such volumes. Otherwise it’s just new wine in old bottles: the old bottles, made of hide (a material distinction almost totally lost in the misunderstandings of the almighty Enlightenment), burst and the wine is lost.