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Friday, August 22 2014 @ 08:43 AM CDT

Biotech Crops Will Hurt U.S. Family Farmers and Deepen the Energy Crisis

News ArchiveAs concerns about peak oil mount, the latest group to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon has been the biotech industry. In a March 13th 2006 press release building towards their national convention in early April in Chicago, Jim Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), proclaimed that a new wave of genetically engineered
technologies “will end our national addiction to oil.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Biotech Crops Will Hurt U.S. Family Farmers and Deepen the Energy Crisis

By: John E. Peck

As concerns about peak oil mount, the latest group to jump on the
renewable energy bandwagon has been the biotech industry. In a March
13th 2006 press release building towards their national convention in early
April in Chicago, Jim Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry
Organization (BIO), proclaimed that a new wave of genetically engineered
technologies “will end our national addiction to oil.” Nothing could be
further from the truth.

Family farmers and others who have already suffered from the first wave
of biotech crops can only shudder at what lurks within this latest
Pandora’s Box. Thanks to Monsanto, farmers are now stuck producing vast
quantities of low quality Bt corn that has hardly any market. This
unwanted biotech corn must then be dumped - at taxpayer expense - into
domestic ethanol production, factory livestock farms, or abroad in
places like Mexico where it contaminates indigenous varieties, undercuts
peasant farmers, and creates desperate people who have no choice but to
cross the border. And in the wake of the Starlink disaster, one can
only imagine the consumer safety threat posed by fields of high starch
low fiber biotech corn, genetically engineered with an ethanol enzyme, growing
adjacent to other corn across the Midwest.

The conventional ethanol industry is already under the thumb of Archers
Daniel Midland (ADM), and many family farmers have lost their shirts
investing in co-op ethanol projects that end up being gobbled up by ADM
when times get tough, such as happened to MN Corn Processors. And, in
tune with its slogan about being the supermarket to the world, ADM could
care less about energy independence at a national level. They have
already pledged to import sugarcane ethanol from Brazil under new “free
trade” deals and leave U.S. corn producers high and dry if the price is
right. Adding biotech ethanol crops into this corporate-driven
quasi-monopoly will only tip the scales further against family farmers.

Another lucrative “solution” to the energy crisis being promoted by the
biotech industry is to engineer microbes to produce enzymes that can
then be added to switchgrass or crop wastes such as corn stover or wheat
straw in largescale biorefineries – a process known as cellulosic ethanol
production. Of course, the environmental impact of such unprecedented
industrial facilities is unknown. And beyond all the hype, one is still
left with the same Enron style scheme dependent upon potentially
dangerous patented technologies, abusive one-sided supply contracts,
and commodity markets manipulated by corporate cartels.

Patented seed varieties and large bioenergy facilities serving corporate
profit margins are hardly a recipe for sustainable rural development or
national energy independence. In fact, given all the problems created
by existing biotech crops, this misguided approach will only make matters
worse. For this reason and many others, family farmers, consumer advocates,
and other concerned citizens will also be gathering in Chicago over the weekend
of April 7th - 10th for Bioethics 2006, an open public event to educate each
other and further strategize about how best to defend our food/farm system
from contamination and cooptation by private agribusiness interests.

Rather than going to war overseas or trusting in corporate biotech to secure
our fuel supply, the United States would do much better by investing in
comprehensive energy conservation, decentralized energy production, and
genuine renewable alternatives such as wind, solar, and biodiesel that rely on
open source science under local democratic control.

John E. Peck is executive director of Family Farm Defenders
tel. 608-260-0900 www.familyfarmdefenders.org
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Biotech Crops Will Hurt U.S. Family Farmers and Deepen the Energy Crisis | 1 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Biotech Crops Will Hurt U.S. Family Farmers and Deepen the Energy Crisis
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 27 2006 @ 12:37 PM CST
Also, during the same weekend there will be Reclaim The Commons events and workshops. To learn more about RTC go to reclaimthecommons.net