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General News    H3'ed 3/3/09

Has Reuters become a PR agency for Monsanto?

Linn Cohen-Cole
Message Linn Cohen-Cole
The following is an article put out by Reuters.  What follows it is the response of a farmer.   Who is asking pertinent questions?  Or perhaps more seriously, who is asking any questions at all?  

Does Monsanto send out pre-prepared articles for Reuters and other media to use - sparing them all effort to write stories or investigate?  Is Monsanto using media as a free extension of their own many, large PR agencies?  
And at this time in world history, with countries battling to keep out GMOs and save their own biologic inheritance and biodiversity, does Reuters and other media not have a greater responsibility than ever to function as a real media and bring truths to light since life itself depends on it?

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - The world is running out of time to develop new seed varieties to confront climate change and head off food shortages that could affect billions of people, experts said.

Marking the first anniversary on Thursday of the opening of a "doomsday" seed vault on the island of Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic, they said that people in Africa and Asia were most at risk from a lack of climate-proof crops.

"It's a question of urgency," Cary Fowler, head of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, told Reuters by telephone with other experts from Spitsbergen. He said governments needed to invest more in breeding new seeds.

"Unlike the bank that needs to be bailed out this week, this problem is going to be an emergency 20 years from now. But by then it will be too late" he said.

The vault, blasted from icy rock 1,000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole, opened on February 26, 2008 and has doubled its holdings to 200 million seeds in the past year, representing 400,000 varieties. It is run by the trust, the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center in Sweden.

"My opinion is that not enough is begin done" to develop new varieties of crops, said David Lobell, an expert in food security and the environment at Stanford University.

There was work under way to help develop crops that can withstand drought and floods but exposure to very high temperatures had not been a focus historically, he said.


Priorities could be southern Africa to help people heavily dependent on crops such as maize in a region likely to be hard hit by climate change, he said. Similarly, India and Pakistan faced disruptions to crops such as rice and wheat.

"We need some tremendous advances," said David Battisti, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington.

"The whole world will be stressed at the same time" because of global warming, he said. Crops can take a decade to breed and test, with no guarantee of success.

Battisti authored a study in the journal Science last month that predicted that climate change would disrupt growth by both crops and livestock and cause serious food shortages for half the world's population.

Crops cannot simply be moved to new areas as the climate warms because soils, pests, insect pollinators, daylight hours and other factors differ even if temperatures seem suitable.

"It's not going to be enough to create heat-tolerant maize," Fowler said. "We are going to need new varieties appropriate in Ghana, in South Africa, or Brazil. You need crops adapted all over the place."

The seed vault will mark its anniversary on Thursday with delivery of four tons of seeds -- almost 90,000 samples of hundreds of species from collections in Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, the United States, Syria, Mexico and Colombia.

The vault is meant to be a fail-safe for national collections of everything from potatoes to coconuts, a sort of Noah's Ark in case of disasters such as nuclear war. It has capacity to store about 4.5 million samples, or 2 billion seeds.

Dear Sir/Madam,
Thank you for your response to my comment. For the sake of well researched reporting it would be enlightening to know who is funding any research by Stanford University into breeding new seeds and so called "climate-proof" crops.
Also who funds or has interests in the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
In addition whether the "new" seeds/crops are dependent on finite phosphates, nitrates derived from finite natural gas and chemicals for weed and pest control.
While seed saving of "heritage" seeds is vital to maintain diversity and the vault in the Norwegian Arctic is most laudable, it would be interesting to know who all the participants involved  in the project are and the degree to which those individual participants are funding the project.
I would contend the "urgency" to develop new seed varieties is nothing more than a pernicious attempt by corporate interests to gain control over the worlds seed/food while at the same time gaining control of the worlds heritage seeds.
It must be noted that the growers of heritage seeds/crops once contaminated by cross pollination from GM plants, become unconscionably liable for growing crops in which some of the plants may have patents attached to them.
With regards to liability, the proponents and growers of GM crops must accept liability for the consequences of Gene Transferre into the natural environment and any/all of the effects which may impact on maintaining the relative stability of all living things.
I look forward to seeing/hearing a more balanced and informative report on the subject.
Yours faithfully,
Richard Davis.
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Met libertarian and conservative farmers and learned an incredible amount about farming and nature and science, as well as about government violations against them and against us all. The other side of the fence is nothing like what we've been (more...)
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