It’s hard for me to truly feel any affiliation with the Green Party, despite the fact I share many of their aims. Attempts to curb global warming, decreasing dependency on fossil fuels and just generally taking more care with the world’s flora and fauna are worthy goals. The problem comes when you begin to start talking about how to achieve those goals. Purely within it’s own party, the Greens must be the most polarised group of people across all political parties. They have no identifiable centrist views, it seems to full of either new age hippies or scientists and rationalists.
The clashing of these two viewpoints was crystalized over the weekend when a group known as ‘Take the Flour Back‘ organised a march followed by what it referred to as a ‘GM Decontamination’ event. Thankfully a large police presence prevented the decontamination part taking place. By all accounts it was very jovial and only two people were arrested for trespassing. At one point a protestor started a siren up, but when it was pointed out to him that this might scare the police horses, he promptly turned it off. How very British. However the fact that a group such as Take the Flour Back even exists represents a worry for leaders of the Green Party. The Green Party’s candidate in the recent London Mayoral election, Jenny Jones, was in attendance, though she had stressed that she was only there for the march. Interestingly she refused to condemn the planned acts of vandalism by the group.
The language used by the group when referring to its plan was very odd. Often protest groups use rhetoric to paint themselves as victims, as if in some kind of David v Goliath grudge match. No such language on show here, in fact the organisers made it sound more like a pleasant walk in the country than what it actually would have been – wanton acts of criminal vandalism. After being denied access to the site by police, Take the Flour Back organiser Kate Bell said;
In the past, kids, grannies, and everyone in between has decontaminated GM trial sites together, Here at the beginning of a new resistance to this obsolete technology, we see GM hidden behind a fortress. We wanted to do the responsible thing and remove the threat of GM contamination – sadly it wasn’t possible to do that effectively today.
So what is so diabolically evil about this Frankenstein wheat crop? Basically scientists have isolated a pheromone secreted by aphids which warns other aphids of danger, causing them to stay away. They have managed to develop a genetically modified version of wheat which also secrets this pheromone, thereby making the wheat almost completely resistant to damage caused by aphids. Traditionally aphid pest control has been achieved by spraying the crop with common chemical pesticides. This significantly improves the yield of useable crops from the initial seeding, allowing farmers to feed more of the planet’s population, now at a slightly cramped 7 billion people. As you can see – utterly evil.
What all this comes down to is how people want to see these global challenges resolved, not just that they are resolved. The scientifically minded view would be to say that the Earth cannot support 7 billion people through natural methods alone – science must come up with some of the answers of how to feed, educate and empower all these people. It is true that human activity has damaged our climate, but human activity can repair it. The opposing view is to say that we should return to a more natural way of doing things in the hope that the planet will repair itself if we give it chance. There is some science to suggest this could happen, however the cost of doing so would be a reduction of the planet’s population through famine and disease due to a critical lack of food production.
Its all very well wanting to encourage small scale farmers selling high quality produce, but the fact is that because organic farming is highly inefficient there just isn’t enough land to maintain current food production. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides led to an explosion in food production, powering the population explosion in the last century. GM is the next technological step in maintaining production rates but removing the need for harmful chemical pesticides. If supposed environmentalists can’t see the aims and objectives that drive this technology are at least partially humanitarian in nature, and think that organic food and food sovereignty solves everything they’re only deluding themselves – attempting to force that view on the whole planet could cost hundreds of millions of lives.
Quite how The Green party can unite these two opposing world views remains to be seen, but if they are serious about gaining a more influential role in British politics they’re going to have to do something.