Soil Association

Soil Association responds to David King`s attack on organic farming


Source: Soil Association

Peter Melchett, Soil Association Policy Director, responds to David King's attack on organic farming in his inaugural speech as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science

'To blame the Soil Association or UK consumers of organic food for the decades of hunger and starvation in Africa, including the current terrible suffering of people in a country like Zimbabwe, as Sir David King appears to do, is unscientific and irrational. David King and a shrinking number of British and American pro-GM scientists are increasingly out of step with the scientific consensus that GM has little to offer in solving the world's food problems. David King criticises this conclusion of 400 international scientists in the recent IAASTD report as 'short sighted'. But it is David King's fervent belief in GM crops that is making him blind to reality.

No GM crops consistently produce higher yields than non-GM varieties. All GM crops need expensive, oil-based, climate-damaging fertilisers and chemical sprays. All GM seeds cost more than non-GM, and they cannot be saved so that poor farmers can use seeds they grow themselves. David King and a minority of scientists' belief in GM is based entirely on promises of what these crops might deliver in future. Exactly the same promises were being made by Monsanto 25 years ago. Quarter of a century should be long enough for even the most ardent GM fan to wake up to GM's limitations.

Over the last 25 years, as the 400 international scientists recognise, new environmental and organic techniques have proved that they can deliver big increases in food production in Africa and other developing countries. Newly developed crops, not using GM technology, have increased yields and are better able to resist diseases and pests.

Tony Blair had a fervent belief in GM, a belief shared by his scientific advisors like David King. We need to put the pro-GM Blair era behind us and work with the solutions we know are already working to increase food production in Africa and elsewhere.'

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