On Tuesday night I was an audience contributor on Prime Time for the GM debate. It’s a topic that I have strong views on and as such I had no qualms in accepting the offer to come on the show and make a contribution.
Similar to the GM debate, I’ve always been amused by the organic vs. conventional debate. To my mind its very simple, if the consumer wanted organic, then organic demand would soar, in turn organic production would increase and thus organic would become the new conventional. The fact that it hasn’t speaks volumes of the public’s stance on the topic.
What the public often forget is that we as farmers farm exactly as we are instructed to by the manner in which our customer, the consumer, buys its food. It’s as simple as that, pay us a fair margin and we will banish our sprayers.
In the organic vs. conventional debate, we have allowed the public to decide through their purchasing and market interaction. So why should GM vs. conventional be any different?
Sadly, the GM debate has been railroaded into a different debate altogether. Not focused on food safety or food quality, nor focused on food security and our ability to grow food on our little island. The GM debate has become focused on what the anti-GM movement would class as corporate greed.
Another way of classifying where the debate currently lies is capitalism vs. socialism, but not just socialism but green socialism. I’ve never been a fan of socialism as a policy, it doesn’t sit well with me when I get out of bed at 5:15am to go dig fresh carrots for public consumption, nor does it sit well with me when I’m paying ever increasing taxes to support the my fellow Irish man who can’t get out of bed in the morning. I’m very much in favour of looking after our old, young and sick, but after that you’ve got to paddle your own canoe and not lean on those with more drive and determination to build a successful and profitable business that equals the sacrifices made in getting there.
With the anti movement almost entirely focused on corporate returns and Monsanto et al, it seems that we the farmers, the lowest rung on the corporate ladder in the farming world, are the ones that will suffer most from not being able to access the tools to compete with our global competitors.
Similar to organic vs. conventional, in my simple mind this argument is very simple. Scientifically and in terms of consumer health, GM has been unequivocally proven to be safe and fit for purpose, end of story. Now it’s time to let the public truly and not idealistically decide.
If GM is passed for production and nobody buys GM products then the public have spoken in the most tangible fashion and we as farmers will not produce GM, very simple. The rest, which seems to garner the majority of column inches, is just commentary.