British trials of genetically modified blight resistant spuds have been failing for the last ten years. But a conventionally bred variety of blight resistant potatoes has been available for 3 years. So why are we
still paying for their dangerous experiment?
Meet outside the Forum in Norwich town centre at noon for free blight-resistant chips, followed by a bike ride (or coach trip, contact info [AT] stopgm.org.uk to book) to the research centre where we're asking Sainsbury Lab reps to join us for blind spud-tasting and debate.
*A tale of two spuds...*
For the last 10 years, researchers at the Sainsbury laboratory at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have spent 1.7 million pounds of public money failing to develop a genetically modified potato resistant to the fungal
disease blight. This project is so secretive and unaccountable that the laboratory has refused to even confirm if a trial has been planted this season, or if they've been forced to abandon any hopes of making the
technology work. Public rejection of the risks associated with eating genetically modified food means that even if the engineering involved was successful, there would be no market for the crop. Meanwhile, 3 years ago a small Welsh research charity dedicated to conventional breeding techniques developed a spud that is spectacularly resistant to blight. Not only does the crop pose no threat to health, the environment, or neighbouring farmers; it works. Over 6 different varieties are now available, and being grown on a commercial scale.
*Delivering the answer to GM crops- *
We think the Sainsbury's laboratory and the government should be told that we've found the potatoes they're looking for. So we're going to deliver them to the doors of their research centre. We'll be forming a carnival
procession of families and farmers led by the next generation on pedal tractors, each towing a mini trailer of safe spuds. There'll be pedal powered tunes, and a full sized tractor to jump on. There will almost
certainly be chips.
The campaign against GM crops ten years ago was so successful that GM almost completely vanished from our fields and supermarkets, and many people have forgotten the issues associated with the technology. But in
many other parts of the world peasant farmers have been desperately fighting its spread, and laws are changing in Europe that would make it much easier for GM to be grown in Britain. Despite pre-election promises
to the contrary the coalition claims it intends to be 'the most pro GM this country has ever seen'.
Let's call time on an outmoded technology that continues to waste money in failing projects, while simultaneously threatening the very science that's actually producing working alternatives quickly and cheaply. For too long the biotech companies have gone unchallenged in their claims that GM can create genuinely useful crops when in fact all the significant advancements in the last decade have come through conventional breeding.
With the renewed threat of GM on the horizon campaigners need to get together again to show the rest of the country (and each other) that we're still here, and we've got an even better case than ever. This is a chance
to take the initiative with the media, to tell a story which explains clearly and practically why the pro GM lobby is wrong. That it's us, and not the corporations that have the answers to the food crisis. And we know how to turn them into an irresistible photo shoot.
*Our Key media messages*
Genetic Modification is unaccountable, expensive, and it doesn't work. We need to stop wasting public money on something that no one wants and start celebrating the real advances in agriculture.
*What we need*
You, and the people you know, and anyone you think might be interested.
This project is being worked on by Stop GM in conjunction with the Genetic Engineering Network. It's a grassroots initiative that evolved after one national gathering, several months of pondering and an over excited long weekend in Wales. Several experienced grassroots campaigners will be working on the project from now until the event, but we need help getting the word out. If you think you could help by distributing email
information about the event, dropping it about in any social media you may be involved in, letting your local growing projects or social justice groups know, distributing our soon to be produced 'Little Red Tractor and
the Quest of the GM-free Spuds' leaflet or even organizing a coach to attend from your area, we'd love to hear from you.
For more information please check briefing to help you object to the proposed field trial of GM
potatoes, and how to get hold of the solution www.sarvari-trust.org.
Please put it in your diary, forward this message on to anyone who might be interested, and hopefully we'll see you there.
All the best,
The Stop GM Crew.