Every corporate sector in the world has discovered that you can syphon vast quantities of wealth from the poor, from the average person, from small business, and from governments, into the accounts of corporations, and raise only a few disapproving words from populations. Construction companies have made huge profits out of war torn Iraq, while local people continue in unemployment. Consumer electronics companies, some of them amongst the most profitable in the world, rely on a supply chain which rests on pollution and virtual slavery in Asia, and vicious, if under-reported, mineral wars in Africa. Banking has exhausted the vocabulary of greed and profit while formerly comfortably off countries have been stripped of their money. Only one sector continues to shine the light of goodness: the agro-chemical business. In this sector, the aim is not to make massive amounts of money. Instead it is investing millions of dollars purely out of the goodness of heart of its executives, in order to end world hunger.

Do you believe this?

We seem to be losing the propaganda battle with respect to GMOs. A new UK survey, admittedly framed with a leading question, indicates that most people are now quite happy about field testing of genetically modified organisms.  The survey helpfully told them that the outcome would be pesticide reduction, and this obviously weighted the  results.  But still, it points to a decrease in what was strong hostility towards GMOs. Once the propaganda battle is lost, it will be  easy to increase of use of GMOs.

To begin with, at least in the UK, the media were helpfully on the side of sanity and sustainability, and the coining of the term “Frankenstein foods” helped to firm up opposition to the concept. But now Frankenstein, with the help of large P.R. teams, is making his monster dress better, and is teaching him manners. What could be better, more benign, than a crop which can survive drought, which can be grown in saline soil? What more could the Third World be crying out for?

The normal framing of the debate now is that GMOs will be a major weapon in the fight against world hunger. Often the debate on radio and television is between on the one hand a learned scientist making the point about hunger, and on the other hand some crusty halfwit with dirty hair who just wants to trample on crops, and who, crucially, is not able to make a coherent point about what is so bad about GMOs.  Instead there is an ill-defined fear about the environment or human health which doesn’t seem to have any substance or research behind it. “Where will it end?” stops sounding scary when it may just end with higher crop yields.

We need to define what the key negative aspect of GMOs is, and press this point home with all activists who may at some point be interviewed in the mass media, because the key point is a horrific one. All other arguments may be addressed. The human health argument may come to nothing. Clever development by GM companies can successively knock out the major environmental dangers, and people will not be motivated to oppose the minor ones, as every day experience of people ‘s response to environmental issues tells us.

So what is the argument we should focus on?  Some of the GMO seeds marketed so far are sterile, so a poor farmer can not collect any seed at the end of the year for use in the following season. It is a one-way ticket to dependence on massive, normally American, corporations whose true interest, like the other sectors mentioned above, is profit. When the GMO revolution is complete, the major varieties of the major crops will be owned by the agro-industrial corporations. Farmers will have to pay for the privilege of growing food. Unlike now, when there is a choice between buying seeds and saving them, there will be no such choice, and saving seeds will be illegal. The point – the only point – to make when speaking to the media, is that GMOs will increase world hunger, because they will mean that those with no money, including farmers, will starve. Unlike before, subsistence farming will no longer be possible.

Markets, in the developing and developed worlds, will be flooded with these varieties, with enough abundance that other varieties fall into disuse. Look out for free supplies of GMOs being given, perhaps for several years, to farmers in various parts of the world. These free supplies will stop when the alternatives are no longer available.

Even if the focus changes from sterile to fertile seed, the issues are much the same. A Canadian farmer was pursued for royalties by Monsanto because his crops had accidentally been contaminated by genetically modified varieties.  The farmer, Percy Schmeiser, had to give up growing rapeseed completely, because he could not guarantee that there would no longer be contamination. Because such varieties are developed by corporations, they are patented – they are not owned by the person who grows them, but only licensed like proprietary software.  This is a clear example of how GMOs will ultimately increase world hunger.

It is obvious that there are many scientists working for biotech companies who are deeply motivated by the issue of world hunger. But these individuals are so focused on solving the technical and scientific issues that they are not noticing that they are being duped, they fail to see that the only valued outcome is profit.

In conclusion, forget the argument about environmental pollution, true as it may be. Forget the argument about human health, which again may indeed be the case. Tell everyone who asks you, again and again – GMOs will increase world hunger.