POLAND - a guinea pig?

Stanislaw Wiackowski

The activities of big biotechnological concerns aim at gaining control over the food production and farmers, including the Polish farmers, and subordinating them to their commercial objectives.

Dangerous GM soy

The biotechnological industry makes the highest profit on GM soy, which has driven the branches of agriculture, which have been important so far, e.g. the production of cattle, milk and diary, crops as well as orchards and various branches of horticulture. This has been accompanied by massive social tragedies and bankruptcies of small firms and farms. Hundreds of farmers had to move to slums in big cities. If the world demand for soy decreases, and it is very likely to happen in the U.S.A., Brazil or Paraguay, it will cause a real catastrophe. The decrease is caused by lower prices in international markets, constant growth of production costs, transport and energy, drought, mycotic diseases, massive growth of super weeds and super pests. No wonder that the countries that are interested in selling GM soy exert great influence on the EU.

Influence on the EU

They use many false arguments, e.g. difficulties in buying more expensive unmodified soy, the threat to cattle breeders because of the lack of soy as a valuable ingredient of feedstuff, which can lead to liquidation of the animals. Some are afraid of the lack of soy because China can buy it out. These are false arguments. We have genetically modified soy and it can be bought without any difficulty. Paraguay has 20% of the soy and Brazil has 60%. Although China imports soy but not for feedstuff but for growing. Being aware of the boom for soy China has planned soy production on a large scale since 2003. Considering the low labour cost in China its soy will be surely cheaper than the soy produced in both Americas. The cost of soy production in Ukraine or the EU countries with warm climates, e.g. in Romania or Greece, should be even lower due to the low cost of transport.

Profit before ethics?

We often hear the argument about the lack of research that would justify our keeping away from GMO. It is the producer, and not the customer, that is responsible for the quality of his products. However, the biggest biotechnological giant Monsanto, whose worth is estimated to be over 73 billion dollars, claims that its aim is profit and not ethics, and because of that he has neglected the obligatory tests, conducting only pilot studies, which cannot be regarded as sufficient in any case. At the same time this firm uses huge means to corrupt politicians and higher officials. Thus the firm shuts the mouth of all those who would like to inform society on the basis of their own research about the danger of GM plants for people’s health, for animals and for the environment. In Indonesia alone, Monsanto spent ca. 700,000 dollars to bribe officials. After this scandal was revealed and the case had been brought into court the firm had to pay one million dollars for infringing the anti-corruption law. In spite of saving money on research the industry was extremely wasteful because it spent immense sums for corrupting the people they needed and not allowing any publications that were unfavourable to the interests of the big concerns. The firm has lost its credibility completely. The initiatives to conduct research have been taken by institutions and independent scientists in spite of them having any special financial means. In the years 2002-2005, in Italy Manuela Malatesta and her collaborators conducted solid research for two years and showed that GM soy given to mice caused serious changes in their liver, pancreas and testicle cells. Other authors had similar results after having fed rats with GM soybeans. In the years 2005-2006, the scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences informed that the rats fed with genetically modified soy had an excessive number of stunted offspring. Over half of them died within three weeks whereas those who survived were completely sterile. Recently, a team of outstanding French biotechnologists directed by Prof. Seralini has proved the toxic effects of MON863 corn, which has been forced in Europe and in Poland, on kidneys and liver. Besides the solid and long standing research one should mention the famous London scientific panel, signed by over 600 scientists from all over the world, and the books ‘Seeds of Deception’ or ‘Genetic Roulette’ by Jeffrey Smith, which include hundreds of publications about the negative effects of GM plants on people’s health, animals and the environment. Those who have not read these works should not present their opinions on this subject.

The world defends itself against GMO

Because of such information the world is less interested in GM. An increasing number of countries stop using GM soy. Many Italian and French producers of cheese seek GM-free feedstuff. One can observe similar reactions of Austrian and Dutch producers of milk and beef. In Great Britain the poultry in hypermarkets is marked as GM-free. Since September 2006 Poland has imported soy having the certificate ‘GMO-free product’, as feedstuff for pigs in firms exporting to the German market. In response to the information about the toxic effects of MON863 corn Russia has also closed its market to GM soy. Last year the biggest Russian importers and soy processors ‘Sodruzhestwo’ and ‘Rybflotoprom’ declared trade free of GMO. This undermines the claim of the Polish producers of feedstuff that the production based on unmodified ingredients is impossible.

Healthy Polish food

The idea to produce transgenic food in the light of the difficulties with the excess of food produced both in Poland and in the entire European Union is commonly undermined. One cannot allow Poland to be treated as a laboratory and to treat Poles as guinea pigs. Poland has no reason to import, and moreover to produce, GMO, having overproduction of her own, increasingly more praised food. Poland is a region that produces highly tasty foods. The Polish export goes up from 1 to 1/3 every year. It has not been disturbed by the high exchange rate of zloty and the Russian embargo. The number of people who like Polish foods is increasing. The report ‘Polish foreign farm and food trade in 2006’ says that it was a record year. The export had a 21% increase - to 8.5 billion euros. The important importers of Polish foods include: Germany (16%), Czech Republic (44%), Great Britain (36%), Holland (24%), Italy (33%), China (82%), Ireland (74%) and Lithuania (56%) - the increase in percentage was given in brackets. Russia has fallen to a lower place at her own wish. As a result, the Polish agriculture is experiencing a great success and the less the world is interested in GM the more prosperous the situation could be for us. In this situation the introduction of toxic products in our market and the predatory strange competition for Polish agriculture would be an unimaginable stupidity.

Prof. Dr. Engineer Stanislaw Wiackowski

He is a professor emeritus at Jan Kochanowski University of Kielce. He directed the Chair of Ecology and Environmental Protection; was appointed professor 24 years ago. He has written over 500 scientific and popular works, including 25 books. He was an MP and president of the Parliamentary Commission for Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry. He was delegated to two commissions of the Council of Europe in Strasburg. He was the president of the Parliamentary Club for Ecology and an advisor to the Minister of Environmental Protection.

"Niedziela" 21/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl