'It beggars belief that the
self-styled leading farming organisation is
recommending insurance as a
possible compensation measure to its members to
commercialisation of GM crops into the UK when not one single
offer such insurance. Either the NFU Council has been asleep
over the past
day or two or it is deliberately ignoring the realities facing
farmers in the
UK. If the latter, it is hard not to conclude that the NFU at
the HQ level is
overtly pro-GM and content to see not co-existence, but GM
throughout UK farming.'
We presume the attached document was forwarded to
us following today's
publicity by a disgruntled or disbelieving NFU member,
possibly a Council
member given its immediacy?
FARM has produced a
briefing setting out the practical and commercial
implications of GM crops
for working farmers
Summary of PRESS RELEASE as sent out yesterday:
7/10/03 - for immediate
No-one will insure GM
"The worry is that GM could be like Thalidomide - only
after some time would
the full extent of the problems be seen"
A survey of the principle insurance underwriters in
the UK, carried out by
the new campaigning group FARM, found that neither
growing GM crops or non-GM farmers seeking to protect
their businesses from
contamination by GM crops would be able to find anyone
willing to give them
The survey conducted by FARM staff
and working farmer members revealed a
level of opposition from companies
taking on the risks of insuring GM crops,
comparable to the public's
hostility to purchasing and eating them.
Insurance company spokespeople
compared GM crops to 'Thalidomide', 'Asbestos
' and 'Acts of Terrorism'.
All the companies surveyed felt that too little was known about the
term effects of growing these crops on human health and the environment
be able to offer any form of cover:
"50 years ago insurers were writing
policies for asbestos without a care in
the world - now they are facing
claims of hundreds of millions of pounds.
The insurance industry has learned
to be wary of new things, and there is a
real feeling that GM could come back
and bite you in 5 years time", said one
This is fairly predictable. They
won't have been pleased by this morning's
OSR story from New Scientist on
Today programme etc.
NB - FARM is not 'an anti-GM farmers' organisation'
- there may be
applications of Biotech. such as Marker Assisted Selection
benefits to farmers and the publci without the risks and
However, we can see no benefits for farmers from the current
transgenic crops proposed for
The little world of campaigner
London, 9th October 2003 - Two days ago, those newspapers that go
that sort of thing were screaming about the stillbirth of GM crops in
UK - the insurance industry would not insure UK farmers against
claims. Farm, an anti-GM farmers organisation had apparently phoned
and came up with the startling news the risks were every bit as bad
thalidomide and asbestos.
Never mind that millions and millions -
and millions - of acres of these
crops are grown round the world. Many of
those acres are in North America,
among the most litigious of societies. Yet
US farmers obtain insurance cover
with no great difficulty. And why shouldn't
they? In more than eight years
there has been not a single confirmed case of
damage to anybody's health.
Environmental impact is at a level typical for
agriculture in general and,
as far as CropGen has been able to find out, not
one organic farmer has lost
accreditation because of "contamination" by
neighbouring GM cultivation.
Yesterday in a radio interview, an insurance
spokesman was more cautious,
saying only that the risk had not yet been
evaluated and if the "Government
said the foods were safe" they would think
again. He may, of course, not
have been an expert in this field. But it was
odd that, as a spokesman on
this matter, he did not seem to know that all the
foods and crops authorised
for human consumption have indeed been declared
safe by the British, US.
Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and other
government authorities as well,
of course, by the EU.
It is worth
noticing that GM agriculture in no way interferes with organic
practices. The EU regulations state many times that "(organic)
be) produced without the use of genetically modified
organisms and/or any
products derived from such organisms". If farmers do
not use GM seed, they
will be fulfilling this obligation. Nowhere is there
any suggestion that such
products must not contain any adventitious quantity
of GM material. Only that
if there is more than 0.9% GM content in any
ingredient it must be labelled
accordingly - just like any other foodstuff.
The size of the teacup in
which this latest storm had been brewed has since
become a little clearer.
Reuters has reported a spokesman for the
Association of British Insurers
(ABI) accusing Farm of "scaremongering", and
said it would look to provide
insurance cover when the risks, if there are
any, are known.
mind; rest assured there will be something else next
1. Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91of 24 June
1991or organic production
of agricultural products and indications referring
thereto on agricultural
products and foodstuffs