ActionAid is not for or against GMOs but……..

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But is a wonderful word. Try this. “I support free speech, but…” The but is always followed by rather clear evidence that the person does not support free speech.

A new example comes from ActionAid. Earlier this week they were exposed for pushing evidence free scare stories in Uganda to get farmers to oppose GM crops. Fortunately, ActionAid has (sort of) distanced itself from this scaremongering. But again, they want to have it both ways. Officially, ActionAid maintains some form of neutrality on GM crops, while essentially opposing them.

This is a very old tactic, and is commonly deployed by the academic opponents of GM crops. My favourite version of this are those academics who decry the polarisation of debate over GM crops on the one hand, but who support destroying GM crops on the other hand. This kind of intellectual hypocrisy isn’t hard to find.

Here is how ActionAid phrases things:

ActionAid is not for or against GMOs but supports a precautionary approach. We do not run any global campaigns on GM technology.

We do however share the concerns of many small holder farmers’ movements. These are around:

  • ownership and the costs of patents (because agro-technology is almost always patented)
  • the threat to farmer saved seeds on which millions depend for their livelihoods
  • the industrialisation of agriculture that encourages monocultures that act against biodiversity.

That’s important because 1.4 billion people worldwide depend on farmer-saved seed and over 95 per cent of agricultural cultivation worldwide is non-GM.

We promote a shift towards women and smallholder-focused non-GM-based Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA) that is highly productive and can tackle climate and water stresses, and has wider social, gender and environmental benefits.

CRSA represents an opportunity for greater community control over natural resources, seeds, land, water, forest, knowledge and technology and equitable and just distribution of income, power, and responsibility. To be a real alternative for farmers’ autonomy, it promotes strongly women farmers’ empowerment.

Yes, ActionAid is not opposed to GM crops, but….
This “but” is followed by coded language. A “precautionary approach” to GM is opposition. By any other name a rose.
ActionAid’s claim to not be opposed to GM crops is then followed by a list of concerns about GM crops – note the lack of mention of any positives. After this they tell us they “promote a shift towards women and smallholder-focused non-GM-based Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)”. Again, the language is not exactly unclear. They explicitly promote non-GM based solutions.
So, ActionAid have developed a form of words that lets them oppose GM crops, but at the same time claim to be neutral.
Bravo to them, and the death of moral and intellectual honesty!
And you also have to admire this magnificently post-modern statement:
It is not ActionAid’s policy to take a position on the health impacts of GMOs because health related research is highly contested and we do not have the necessary expertise to make informed decisions.
Perhaps ActionAid lack the expertise to decide if vaccines cause autism or if climate change is real. Or perhaps their even handedness is selective. That again is an old story.