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"A Royal Muddle" or an "Editorial Muddle" at the Financial Times?
The genetic engineering believers calling Prince Charles a "Luddite"

"PSEUDOWISSENSCHAFT: Der Öko-Fundi - die Tiraden von Prinz Charles"
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The Financial Times has an interesting way of drawing attention to the GM food debate and the involvement of the Prince of Wales.

The print version of this financial newspaper says in its front page teaser column on 14 August 2008: "Prince 'Luddite'" "Prince Charles of England was branded a Luddite over his claims that a global shift towards genetically modified crops would destroy the earth's environment. Page 2; Editorial comment, Page 10."
This takes the reader to this editorial masterpiece of opinionated shallowness on page 10 - "A royal muddle".
On the paper's web site one finds this vilifying header
"The heir to the British throne should be guided by science, not superstition.
"Let them eat organic shortbread" is no answer to rising food prices", which leads to this article on page 2 )

Mr Lionel Franklin Barber, Editor in Chief of the Financial Times appears to whole-heartedly support the biotech industry.

We think Mr Barber managed to accumulate a number of unsubstantiated claims and errors that warrant serious and important corrections. We believe the editor willfully quotes the Prince of Wales out of context, not wanting to understand that the heir to the Britisch crown actually attacks big business as a driving force towards the demise of humanity. The words of the prince are a bit clumsy, but this is what we transcribed from the Daily Telegraph's audio of the actual interview:
    "We're all run by gigantic corporations. Is that really the answer? I think not. I'm terribly sorry but I think that would be the absolute destruction of everything and the most unsustainable and a classic way of ensuring that there is no food in the future. Because if they think that this is the way to go and we end up with millions of small farmers all over the world being driven off their land and into unsustainable, unmanageable, degraded and disfunctional conurbations of unmentionable awfulness. Then you count me out. And I think it will be the absolute disaster. What we should be talking about is food security not food production. That's what matters and that's what people worry about, understand. And if they think also, by the way, that somehow it's all going to work because they're going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another, then again count me out because that will be guaranteed the cause of the biggest desaster, environmentally, of all time."

One may wonder which knowledge base the editor has tapped here, calling "Monsanto" a "food company", for instance.
Factually Monsanto is known for their genetic engineering of seeds in order to monopolise the seed market and to boost their parallel line of chemical weed killers. Just recently this infamous company finally - after 14 years of battle - gave up their line of bovine growth hormone that boosted milk production but seemed to have turned cows into sick milk producers, with apparently low quality milk, as reported by animal protection and environmental NGOs.

"The Prince is mistaken on all counts" knows the editor in his wisdom. The world population is certainly growing but it's a serious fraud to claim that GM crops could (1) boost output in order to deal with hunger and food shortages, (2) could continue to increase output, whilst forgetting that (3) higher outputs require higher nutrient inputs and (4) soil quality and fertiliser availibility are both decreasing.

Even IF genetically engineered seeds could increase harvest size, it can only be a stop-gap solution for a short period of time. It can never cope with the basic problem that an ever rising population size requires ever rising ressource quantities, i.e. food, shelter, work.

These, however, are the subjects that the Editor and his folk refuse to recognise, stubbornly holding on to the myths of economic growth and denying material realities of increasing resource scarcities on a finite world.

Neither does the editor think of the impending times of lower fossil fuel availabilities, which will lead to decreased industrial and agricultural production. [...]

These are the most important points we wanted to correct here.

The original interview with the Prince of Wales:
  • Prince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster By Jeff Randall, Interview, The Daily Telegraph, 12/08/2008 (Including the audio of the interview)

    The Editorial
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    "A royal muddle"

    The Financial Times, Editorial of 14 August 2008 ©

    Prince Charles is a well-known organic food enthusiast - he even has a range of all-natural biscuits. Now he has launched a passionate attack on modern farming. He sees no need for greater world agricultural production, thinks big companies have caused serious damage to farming and genetic modification has been a disaster. The prince is mistaken on all counts.

    The world population is now growing faster than agricultural production. Food prices are soaring around the world and have triggered riots this year in Haiti, Egypt, Yemen and across west Africa. The prince is wrong to reject the need to find ways to increase farm output.

    Moreover, big companies are not the enemy. Genetic research is one of our most potent weapons, and only large companies can afford to fund it. GM seeds are very expensive and, while a few large firms do make a lot of money from them, they sell well because they work.

    GM crops already allow greater yields with less water, less energy and with fewer chemicals. They will not, on their own, solve the world food shortage but they are already raising productivity growth. New strains of salt-resistant, drought-proof crops will allow us to farm poorer-quality land effectively.

    Of course, it may be some years before some of these strains are available and scientists must still keep an eye out for unintended consequences. But there is no evidence for the prince's claims that genetic modification has already gone "seriously wrong".

    Prince Charles, furthermore, made a number of assertions that are simply wrong. The water table is falling in the Punjab, he said, because of GM crops. Nonsense. The water problems are the result of subsidies on rice and electricity. The subsidies encourage the cultivation of rice which - GM or not - requires a paddy field filled with water. Since electricity is free to the farmers, they leave water pumps on constantly and bleed their aquifers dry. The Punjab's problems are caused by the Punjab's politicians.

    The prince also blamed the high salt levels in the soil of Western Australia on the excesses of modern farming. But salination there is caused by deforestation and geology. It has always been a problem for Australian farmers and was first noted in the 1920s (when Monsanto, the GM food giant, was still making rubber and aspirin).

    The prince has done good works through his charities, but he should be guided by science, not superstition. "Let them eat organic shortbread" is no answer to rising food prices.

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008 Editorial Comment, Page 10

    Prince branded 'a Luddite' over his attack on GM crops

    By Jenny Wiggins and Jim Pickard, the Financial Times August 14 2008

    Prince Charles was branded a Luddite yesterday as his claims that a global shift towards planting more genetically modified crops would destroy the earth's environment met a withering response.

    The prince, who started his own organic food brand - Duchy Originals - 18 years ago, opened himself up to attack after arguing that increased global production of GM crops would lead to "disaster".

    In an interview with The Daily Telegraph he accused companies of conducting a "gigantic experiment with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong. Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate change and everything?"

    GM is being forcefully put forward as a potential solution to the spiralling cost of food, heightening the sensitivity of his intervention. Sir David King, the former chief scientist, recently told the FT that GM crops held the key to solving the food price crisis and Nestlé has urged the European Union to review its opposition to GM.

    While environmentalists rushed to the prince's def-ence, there was a backlash from politicians, academics and industry figures. Phil Willis, chairman of the Commons science committee, said the use of science in farming had helped feed billions of people. "His lack of scientific understanding and his willingness to condemn millions of people to starvation in areas like sub-Saharan Africa is absolutely bewildering."

    Levelling the "Luddite" charge, Des Turner, a Labour MP and member of the same committee, added: "Prince Charles has got a way of getting things absolutely wrong."

    Syngenta, the agribusiness group, which develops GM crops, said scientific data did not support the prince's claims, and the world would not be able to feed itself without GM technology. "If we're going to feed the world we have to use every technology at our disposal."

    The company said organic farming was harsher on the environment than GM technology. "If you were to go organic you would have to double and triple the amount of land under cultivation . . . only by using technology will you protect wild spaces and biodiversity."

    Dr Julian Little, who chairs the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, an industry group representing biotechnology companies, and who works for Bayer CropScience, a leading proponent of GM, added: "The only way to keep a lid on food inflation is to produce more."

    Jim Dunwell, a professor of plant biotechnology at the University of Reading, said the prince had "exaggerated" the negative consequences of GM technology. "I don't think the evidence base is there for the conclusions he's reached."

    The prince won backing from Mike Childs, campaigns director for Friends of the Earth, who said he had "hit the nail on the head" about the "false solution" presented by GM crops.

    But amid worries in farming about the cost of continuing to buy non-GM feed for poultry, Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union, warned that his members could suffer if consumers started to buy cheaper imported foods made with GM ingredients.

    Editorial Comment, Page 10

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008 - Reproduced for scientific reference reasons only.

    Prince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster

    By Jeff Randall Last Updated: 2:01pm BST 12/08/2008
    Have your say Read comments

    The mass development of genetically modified crops risks causing the world's worst environmental disaster, The Prince of Wales has warned.

    Listen: The Prince of Wales speaks out

    In his most outspoken intervention on the issue of GM food, the Prince said that multi-national companies were conducting an experiment with nature which had gone "seriously wrong".

    The Prince, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, also expressed the fear that food would run out because of the damage being wreaked on the earth's soil by scientists' research.

    He accused firms of conducting a "gigantic experiment I think with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong".

    "Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate change and everything?".

    The Prince of Wales: 'If that is the future, count me out'

    George Pitcher: Prince Charles pits faith against GM crops

    Relying on "gigantic corporations" for food, he said, would result in "absolute disaster".

    "That would be the absolute destruction of everything... and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future," he said.

    "What we should be talking about is food security not food production - that is what matters and that is what people will not understand.

    "And if they think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time."

    Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of "gigantic corporations" taking over the mass production of food.

    "I think it's heading for real disaster," he said.

    "If they think this is the way to go....we [will] end up with millions of small farmers all over the world being driven off their land into unsustainable, unmanageable, degraded and dysfunctional conurbations of unmentionable awfulness."

    The Prince of Wales's forthright comments will reopen the whole debate about GM food.

    They will put him on a collision course with the international scientific community and Downing Street - which has allowed 54 GM crop trials in Britain since 2000.

    His intervention comes at a critical time. There is intense pressure for more GM products, not fewer, because of soaring food costs and widespread shortages.

    Many scientists believe GM research is the only way to guarantee food for the world's growing population as the planet is affected by climate change.

    They will be dismayed by such a high profile and controversial contribution from the Prince of Wales at such a sensitive time.

    The Prince will be braced for the biggest outpouring of criticism from scientists since he accused genetic engineers of taking us into "realms that belong to God and God alone" in an article in the Daily Telegraph in 1998.

    In the interview the Prince, who has an organic farm on his Highgrove estate, held out the hope of the British agricultural system encouraging more and more family run co-operative farms.

    When challenged over whether he was trying to turn back the clock, he said: "I think not. I'm terribly sorry. It's not going backwards. It is actually recognising that we are with nature, not against it. We have gone working against nature for too long."

    The Prince of Wales cited the widespread environmental damage in India caused by the rush to mass produce GM food.

    "Look at India's Green Revolution. It worked for a short time but now the price is being paid.

    "I have been to the Punjab where you have seen the disasters that have taken place as result of the over demand on irrigation because of the hybrid seeds and grains that have been produced which demand huge amounts of water.

    "[The] water table has disappeared. They have huge problems with water level, with pesticide problems, and complications which are now coming home to roost.

    "Look at western Australia. Huge salinisation problems. I have been there. Seen it. Some of the excessive approaches to modern forms of agriculture."

    He said that the scientists were putting too much pressure on nature.

    "If you are not working with natural assistance you cause untold problems. which become very expensive and very difficult to undo.

    It places impossible burdens on nature and leads to accumulating problems which become more difficult to sort out."

    In a keynote speech last year the Prince of Wales warned that the world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless a £15 billion action plan is agreed to save the world's rain forests.

    He has set up his own rain forest project with 15 of the world's largest companies, environmental and economic experts, to try to find ways to stop their destruction.

    Only two weeks ago British GM researchers lobbied ministers for their crops to be kept in high-security facilities or in fields at secret locations across the country to prevent them from being attacked and destroyed.

    They spoke out after protesters ripped up crops in one of only two GM trials to be approved in Britain this year.

    Scientists claim the repeated attacks on their trials are stifling vital research to evaluate whether GM crops can reduce the cost and environmental impact of farming and whether they will grow better in harsh environments where droughts have devastated harvests. zurück

    Source= The Daily Telegraph 21 August 20008