Friday, 23 June 2006

Destruction of GE crops is not a victimless crime

New Zealand has been mercifully free of crop vandalism since Nandor Tanczos's Wild Greens broke into Lincoln Univerity's GE crop research lab and destroyed about a million or so dollars of scientific research, despite the boasts of the "sandalled vandals" of 'Green Gloves' in the wake of the Royal Commission Report on GE going against their hopes and wishes.

Not so in Europe however, and Dr. Ferdinand Schmitz of the Federated Association of German Plant Breeders is saying enough is enough. "Field destruction is not a victimless crime," says Dr Schmitz in a recent press release (in German unfortunately -- translation below). "The losses to breeders and farmers cost millions."
The destruction of field trials of genetically modified plants by militant opponents of green biotechnology is creating great distress among scientists and plant breeders. After careful scientific and official assessment of ecological and agronomic variables, the field trials take place outdoors where their protection from criminal trespass is scarcely possible. . .

    The damage caused by the destruction of the field trials is considerable. Uprooted and destroyed plants do not represent the loss of ordinary crops, but rather the loss of valuable breeding material which contributes to the development of new varieties and new technologies. The immediate physical damages inflicted by the destruction of outdoor field trials amounts to EU250,000 to EU300,000. The value of the research imperiled by destruction of any individual field trial runs into the millions.
Things are little different for seed certification tests. . .
    Before a new plant variety -- whether developed through biotechnology or traditional methods -- is released to the market, it is evaluated over several years under agricultural conditions. . .
    If an evaluation for the certification of a new variety is lost, damages ranging into the millions result for the seed developer and with it, an entire year of market opportunity.
Still greater is the loss to agriculture in general. For example, the development of new corn [maize] varieties annually increases productivity by 1.5 decitonnes per hectare. If farmers were to go without this amount of progress for one year, that damage alone is considerable.
    Civil courage required "We cannot test our innovations in secured, isolated areas. We work in and with nature and that leaves us vulnerable to attacks," Schmitz said of the problem. A broad support of the state for the optimum protection of field trial integrity alone is not enough, in the opinion the BDP. "We appeal to attentive citizens who understand injustice, and who share our rejection of the use of force against persons and property to press a political argument. We are very grateful for the civil courage of vigilant residents near the location of the recent raid in Baden-Wuerttemberg, who reported the destruction to police. With support of the public, hopefully expressed by the press, television and politicians, it will become clear to the opponents that this form of argumentation will be ineffective."
Anti-GE activists say they object to GE crops being 'released' before they're researched, about which nobody disagrees. But then the same activists defend vandalism against the research they say needs to be carried out.

Not for the first time, and just like the small children their actions so often resemble, the vandals want it every way, just so long as its their way.  

LINKS: NZ and Korean activists take direct action against GE crops - Organic Consumers Association (March 16, 1999)
Libz declares war on activists - Libertarianz, Scoop
Eco-Terrorism - Editorial, The Press (Jan 14, 2002)
Field destruction is not a victimless crime (in German) - BDP Lebensbasis Planze

Environment, Politics-Europe, GE, Libz, Politics-Greens

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