GE - Letter to Tony Blair
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- Subject: GE - Letter to Tony Blair
- From: "K O'Connell" <firstname.lastname@example.org> (by way of genetics <email@example.com>)
- Date: Thu, 04 Mar 1999 00:58:04 +0000
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could you please distribute this e-mail to as many people and organisations
as you can and ask everyone else to do the same? This may not work - but
then again - it just might!!
Enclosed is a copy of a letter that I have just posted to Tony Blair.
Although I have sent it under my name it has been sent on behalf of everyone
who has concerns about biotechnology, our health, our environment, our
society and our future.
I very much doubt that I will receive a reply from Downing Street but it is
vitally important, for every one of us, that these issues are publicly
addressed. I am therefore sending a copy of the letter to every national
newspaper, every national radio station and every national TV Channel in the
hope that it will be so widely published that it cannot be ignored.
It is also being sent (please - i need help here ) to hundreds of
individual people, voluntary organisations, political parties and
scientists. I am asking that everyone who reads and supports its content to
add his or her signature and to make it more widely available for others to
do the same. These names will be available to the media on request.
It would seem that we have reached a point in history where the
responsibility for the future can no longer be the province of the few.
Whether we want it, or not, that responsibility now rests with us all. Each
of us has the right to choose how our future will be, each of us has the
right to decide for ourselves. For that decision to be made wisely we all
need to be aware of the facts. We need a public reply to this letter.
Please show this letter to as many people and organisations as you can. Ask
if they would add their name. Send it to your local papers and radio and
tv. Show it to anyone and everyone. The more support for this letter the
more chance we have in getting a response
Names (and addresses) can be sent to me by email
firstname.lastname@example.org - please use 'signiture' as subject title
by post - wayback sea road anderby skegness PE24 5YD
or by phone (last resort please!) 01507 490112
If you would like to contact me please use any of the above methods and if
you can think of people I should contact (if you cannot) then please let me
An open letter to Tony Blair
Dear Mr. Blair,
Prince Charles is requesting that the government give financial support to
encourage farmers to produce more organic crops. This seems to be a very
reasonable request as increasing demand far outweighs supply. Over 70% of
organic foods on supermarket shelves are imported from other countries. At
a time when our farming industry is being completely undermined, the only
sensible approach is to encourage an increase in the production of food for
which there is a real market demand, rather than merely adding to the grain
Most consumers, given a choice, would buy organic produce. Unfortunately,
due to unavailability and high cost, this is not always possible. However,
if a substantial amount of money were to be invested in sustainable
agriculture it would not only increase the availability of organic produce,
it would, in the long term, reduce the cost and this in turn would increase
More production means more work. Organic farms are not mechanised on a grand
scale. It takes manpower to sow, plant, weed, hoe and harvest. The
reduction in unemployment would be staggering, particularly in rural areas.
This in itself brings a multitude of advantages. Unemployment related
benefits would be greatly reduced, saving millions of pounds of taxpayers
money every year. Many more people would be employed and would have money
to spend. This would not only be beneficial to the economy as a whole it
would also go some considerable way in restoring the self worth of those who
find themselves permanently unemployed or caught in the endless round of
back to work schemes. There are many advantages for the farmers - not least
that they would be growing produce for which there is a real demand, not
only in this country but also abroad. There would also be a great reduction
in the use of toxic fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides and that would
be beneficial in restoring bio-diversity to what is left of our natural
environment. Neither should we forget that a reduction in the use of toxic
chemicals would also bring about a considerable reduction in the disease and
disability caused by the spread of toxic substances into our environment.
Improving the health of the nation decreases the burden on the health
Bearing all this in mind I confess to being bewildered and extremely
concerned by the response from Downing Street to Prince Charles request:
"There is no use in anyone calling for expenditure which cannot be
What is meant by "cannot be afforded"? Does it mean that the government has
no financial resources available?
If this is the case then why is the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Food (MAFF) paying 1.5 million pounds of taxpayers money to an advertising
agency for the sole purpose of persuading the people of this country to
accept genetically modified food? Why, when the majority of people have
clearly shown their distrust of, and lack of confidence in, this new
technology, does this government continually insist that we accept it
anyway? Why is this government currently investing millions of pounds in a
technology that is unproven and that serves no purpose but to substantially
increase the already vast profits of a very few companies? (These
investments include £13 million in the 'Biotechnology means business'
scheme, while Lord Sainsbury, as Science Minister, has just given an extra
£50 million pounds of public money to
the industry-dominated Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research
Council. This council is known to favour plant biotech institutes like the
Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre (where Lord Sainsbury has
already invested millions of his own).) I have spent the last year
thoroughly researching this technology. I have heard the arguments in
favour of genetically engineered products and to be honest they make no
sense at all. There is absolutely no evidence that these products are safe
for consumption, no evidence that they will be harmless to the environment,
no evidence that they will be of help to the Third World. In fact there is
increasing evidence that there are substantial risks to health, wildlife and
to the independence of individual countries. Due to the total absence of
proof that genetically engineered food will be beneficial in any way, I
challenge this government to provide independent scientific documentation to
back its claims. Our money, Mr. Blair, (by no stretch of the imagination is
it your money) would be far better spent in producing food that the people
of this country want to eat and in creating sustainable employment so that
the people of this country can afford to eat.
Perhaps I have it wrong. Perhaps "cannot be afforded" implies something
else entirely? Does it mean that this government cannot afford to upset the
interests of the biotechnology corporations and their plans for total
corporate control of the world's food supply? Does it mean that this
government cannot afford to upset the interests and plans of the American
government, who stand to make billions of dollars in revenue from
biotechnology and who are joint financial partners, with Monsanto, in the
Terminator technology? Does it mean that this government cannot afford to
renege on financial deals already made with these companies regardless of
what the electorate wants? Does it mean that this government cannot afford
to take into account the risks to our health and that of the environment
because they are considered to be trivial matters that are far outweighed by
Who is going to benefit from this technology Mr. Blair? It will not be
the consumer, it will not be the environment, and it will certainly not be
the farmer. Genetic engineering of crops demands monoculture on an
unparalleled scale. Small-scale farming will be relegated into the
chronicles of the past. Who will benefit?
Although there are many aspects of agricultural policy that need to be
reformed there is one point in particular that is terrifying. We are using
up the world's natural resources at an alarming rate. Food is being seen as
the only profit-making commodity of the future. Whatever else we learn to
live without, food will always be necessary to life and there is something
fundamentally wrong with a system that allows the worlds staple diet to be
wholly owned by a handful of companies. Food is not a luxury. Wholesome
food is the birthright of every living being on this planet and its
production belongs in the hands of the people and not in the pocket of the
multi-nationals. We are already seeing the chaos and waste caused by
supermarkets demanding that fruit and vegetables be a particular shape,
size, or colour. Farmers go out of business because their apples are too
red or their potatoes too big, thousands of tons of perfectly nutritious
food is left to rot, prices are sky high and people starve by the million.
This is a despicable state of affairs and all of us should be utterly
ashamed. Yet this is nothing to what will happen if the genetic alteration
of our food continues. Regardless of what the companies, or governments,
are saying, there is only one direction that this is leading. To blackmail
on an unbelievable scale.
This is not scaremongering. It is already happening.
Luxembourg and Austria have a blanket ban on the production, testing and
import of genetically engineered food. They are being told that they are
breaking the law and that the ban must be lifted. Whose law are they
breaking? Not their own. The governments have said no. The people have
said no. Yet they are threatened with fines and with sanctions. New
Zealand said that they wanted all GMO products labelled. The American
government threatened them with a trade war. The British government
tentatively suggested a voluntary moratorium only to be threatened with
legal action by Monsanto and Zeneca. And this is only the beginning.
What will the future bring?
Can you imagine what it will be like when half a dozen companies own all of
the world's staple diet as well as the world's medicines, arms, chemicals
and most of the technology? Imagine, if you can, what it will be like when
the most powerful of those companies is so involved with the American
government that it is impossible to tell who is politician and who is
business man. Who will govern then Mr. Blair? What will happen to free will,
to the freedom of speech, to the freedom of choice? Great Britain is not
self sufficient in food. Think very carefully about this. We are not
self-sufficient. Independent seed companies are becoming a thing of the past
as the multinationals buy them up in order to control the rights they hold
on many varieties of seeds. Do we have a stockpile of seeds sufficient to
feed the nation in a time of emergency? Do we still have the means to
become self sufficient if the need arose? Keep imagining. What if America
wanted us to import hormone treated beef, or pork, or milk, unlabelled and
on a scale that would totally destroy what is left of our dairy industry?
Would you say "no" Mr. Blair? Could you say "no"? What would happen if you
did? Isn't it possible that the combination of foreign business and foreign
politicians could totally undermine our economy? Is it possible that they
could hold us to ransom? Is it possible that this is already happening? If
it can happen here can you imagine what could happen to the poorer nations?
Can you imagine it? Countries already in debt will be forced to buy food
that they do not want and will not be able to afford the food that they
need. If they say "no" it will be inevitable that their debt will be
recalled and trade sanctions placed. Perhaps there is no reason to
imagine - is it true, Mr. Blair, that this already happening to the banana
producing countries of the Caribbean?
There is no point in saying that an allied Europe will prevent this. Every
country in the world is facing the same problem.
There is an alternative future. We can say "no" before it is too late. We
could set a good example to the rest of the world. We could reduce the
money that is to be invested in biotechnology and invest in organic
techniques and a sustainable future. We could secure thousands of people in
worthwhile employment, guarantee safe, nutritious food, reduce illness and
disease, decrease pollution, protect wildlife and increase bio-diversity.
We are an island. If we take great care we can guarantee that all crops
grown in Great Britain are totally free from chemical or genetic
contamination. Good food is already at a premium. Can you imagine what the
demand is going to be? Farming would become a secure industry and we would
be a secure nation.
We have a choice to make Mr. Blair. We have elected you as our
spokesperson, not as our dictator, and our future must come from our
combined choice and not yours alone. The choice is not just about
biotechnology. We have come to a point where we must stop investing in 'now'
and give some serious consideration to the future that we are creating for
our children and our children's children. What kind of inheritance are we
There are many people in this country who would like answers to the
questions and issues that have been raised in this letter. The people who
are united on this issue are not crazy, or cranks, or radical, or
subversive. We are united because we care. We care about the people of
this planet and we care about the planet itself. On behalf of us all I ask
for a truthful reply.
The Gaia Community Trust