Renewable Farming

This scientist reasons that GMO crops should be managed as invasive species

When we see an interesting GMO-related scientific paper or article, we usually just link to it in our Healthy Farming News column for your convenience. In this case, an author’s concept is so reasonable and clear-cut that we’ve excerpted it here.

August 6, 2018 — The Journal of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development offers a global open-source publishing outlet for creative ideas. John Paull of the University of Tasmania just published a paper which makes a logical case that consumers, organic farmers and non-GMO farmers have a firm legal basis for regarding transgenic crops as invasive species of plants.

Tasmania is about as far as a scientist can get from the Monsanto-endowed academic halls of Purdue or the University of Missouri. Perhaps that’s why John Paull pours his opinion to the journal article. Here’s the total abstract. The link above takes you to the full paper.

“Worldwide, invasive weeds (often called “noxious” weeds) are subject to governmental controls. Landowners are mandated to remove them, or officials have the regulatory right to control them at the landowner’s expense. John Paull’s paper makes the case that GMO crops can infringe on neighboring lands with financially severe consequences.

“This paper frames genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as invasive species.

“This offers a way of considering the reception, diffusion and management of GMOs in the foodscape. “An invasive non-native species is any non-native animal or plant that has the ability to spread causing damage to the environment, the economy, our health and the way we live” (NNSS, 2017).

“Without any social licence, pesticide companies have thrust GMOs into the foodscape. The release of GMOs has generally been unwelcome, there has been no ‘pull’ factor from consumers and there has been vocal resistance from many.

“The apologists for GMOs have argued the self-contradictory conceit that GMOs are ‘same but different’. Under this logically untenable stance, GMOs are to be excluded from specific regulation because they are the ‘same’ as existing organisms, while simultaneously they are ‘different’ and so open to patenting. GMOs are patented and this demonstrates that, prima facie, these are novel organisms which are non-native to the foodscape.

“GMO apologists have campaigned intensively, and successfully in USA, to ensure that consumers are kept in the dark and that GMOs remain unlabelled. As a consequence GMOs are ubiquitous in US consumer foods.

“In contrast, in Australia GMOs are required to be labelled if present in consumer products and, in consequence, Australian food manufacturers do not use them.

“The release of a GMO calls for biosecurity measures. After trial plots of Monsanto GM canola in Tasmania in the 1990s, the sites continue to be biosecurity monitored for GMO escape, and volunteer canola plants continue to appear two decades later.

“In Western Australia the escape of GMO canola into a neighbouring organic farm resulted in the loss of organic certification and the monetary loss of the organic premium for produce. GMO produce sells for a 10% discount because of market forces and the consumer aversion to GMOs.

“Where non-GM product is accidentally contaminated with some GM grain, the whole batch is discounted and is sold as GMO.

“There is a lack of evidence that GMOs can be contained and many jurisdictions have banned the introduction of GMOs. GMOs have the potential and the propensity to contaminate non-GMO crops and thereby devalue them.

“The evidence is that GMOs are invasive species, they are unwelcome by consumers, peaceful coexistence with non-GM varieties is a fiction, and GMOs are appropriately managed as a biosecurity issue.”