An editorial in the Wall Street Journal summarizes the European Union’s decades-long flight from science, common sense and consistency. These un- or even anti-science positions are driven by many idées fixes, baseless myths and superstitions, promulgated by “consumer groups” and by deep green “environmentalists,” who claim to be concerned about Mother Earth.
An excellent example of this is skewered in the WSJ piece, with the editor-authors taking note of the proponents of the German-GMO ban saying they support the GMO ban based on the doctrine of “food democracy” (science is not a democracy) and the even-less romantic, but perhaps more-accurate policy of the ban, promoting “sustainable, resilient organic food production that doesn’t perpetuate the overuse of toxic herbicides.”
Aha! There’s the key. As with most of the “grassroots” and “consumer” opposition to biotech improvements in agriculture, the major promoter of hysteria is Big Organic, the $100 billion dollar… oops, 90 billion euro …mega-industry. Despite the much higher profit margin of organics, supported by manufactured consumer fears of GMOs, organic lobbyists nonetheless feel no shame in attacking “Big Agribusiness,” epitomized by Monsanto as the source of all Evil in the world, but especially in Europe (because it is not a European company.)
This is now official German policy, despite these facts from the Journal editorial:
“Back in reality, EU scientific and food-safety authorities have repeatedly cleared various GMO crops for human and animal consumption. The process often takes months to complete, and in 95% of cases EU regulators ask producers for more evidence before greenlighting GMOs, so it’s hardly a rubber stamp.”
These pontifications are entirely separate from another major inspiration for the risible ban: trade protectionism. Since this rationale, while immensely powerful among those in the agricultural industry’s back rooms, is anathema in the public fora where “free trade” is the dominant policy, fomenting popular antipathy to GMOs as a surrogate to protect “real German” crops from outside “pollution” functions nicely in that arena.
The editorial concludes with a dire prognostication on the likely economic ramifications both for Germany, the EU, and the U.S. in dealing with mutual trade pacts such as the upcoming negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership:
“Once concluded, the U.S.-Europe trade pact would generate an estimated €120 billion in European gross domestic product, but American agricultural producers might rightly be wary of a GMO regulatory patchwork across the Continent. If Europeans miss out on the jobs, growth and cheaper products that come with free trade, they’ll have the green lobby to blame.”
Given Germany’s recent decision to shut down its safe, efficient and cheap-energy-providing nuclear industry (Round One in Germany Versus Science) out of similar baseless fears dating from Fukushima, one would hope that those who are running the financial/economic sector in EU banking are not running with the same science- and sense-free crowd who are initiating the counterproductive, self-defeating GMO ban there. I shudder to think they might be.
For a comprehensive academic discussion of the facts about agricultural biotechnology/GMOs, read ACSH’s publications here.
Republished in slightly modified from from the American Council on Science and Health. Read the original article here.