17 September 2007

Enclosing the Agricultural Commons

Here's a nasty little threat brewing:

Government ministers have given their backing to a renewed campaign by farmers and industry to introduce genetically modified crops to the UK, the Guardian has learned.

They believe the public will now accept that the technology is vital to the development of higher-yield and hardier food for the world's increasing population and will help produce crops that can be used as biofuels in the fight against climate change.

"GM will come back to the UK; the question is how it comes back, not whether it's coming back," said a senior government source.

Now, I have nothing against genetically-modified organisms as such - after all, selective breeding has been producing modified organisms for the last few millennia. No, what concerns me is this:

The purpose of the crops primarily is to give intellectual property rights to biotech companies. They're fulfilling their purpose perfectly in those terms. But they're not really doing much for the farmer.

Exactly: it's about turning an open, commons-based domain, into a a closed, proprietary one. Not the way to go, and why this new attempt to foist GM crops on the public must fail.

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