GM Crops, Supermarkets & Time

The last week has been a bit of blur really, I’ve been chained to the computer trying to get some work finished before a deadline and it’s looking like I might just do it. Not certain yet, but fingers crossed.

We have popped down a few times, since Val has been busy in the garden producing compost materials for me. I think flowery things are great for the compost heap!

What is really frustrating is the weather has been reasonable. I’m convinced it will pour down when I’ve got time to get serious on the winter tasks.

Just to add to the fun the website has been having a rough time. The chat forums decided to really play up, rewarding posters with strange error messages and just not appearing at times.

Luckily the hosting company are excellent and sorted it out. Not only did they analyse and resolve issues on their side of things but even changed settings on my side of things, which appears to have improved performance. Nobody can promise that things will never go wrong, it’s how they react when they do that defines the quality of a service provider.

I tend to work with the radio on in the background and a couple of news stories have caught my attention.

GM Crops

I suppose it is too much to hope that this would go away. It’s a technology that the vast majority of people don’t want in the UK and the rest of Europe but having spent a fortune developing these crops, the US companies are determined we will have them. Of course our government is supporting the idea in Europe, probably under pressure from the White House.

There really is a huge difference between conventional breeding and genetic modification. Conventional breeding is about selecting the best from any particular crop and breeding from that stock for the characteristics you want. This has brought us club root resistant brassicas and blight resistant potatoes. The good news is that there are more in the pipeline, by the way.

Genetic modification is about the direct manipulation of genes. Inserting a gene from one species into another, which is something that just cannot happen in nature. It’s an incredibly powerful technology and offers the promise of wonderful things. The objection we have is the risk. Without going into the GM argument in detail, the risks are similar to those of nuclear power. That’s a technology that produces power with little risk usually but when something does go badly wrong it’s really bad. Chernobyl.

If we could be certain that the developers of GM had spent as much effort on the safety considerations as they have on marketing I’d be heralding the new age.


The other news story that grabbed me was the Competition Commission report on supermarkets. Their answer to the situation we find ourselves in where the ‘big four’ and most notably Tesco dominate the food supply chain is to have more supermarkets.

Whenever you see a new supermarket has opened creating 100 jobs, you can bet this means 150 jobs have gone in small shops.

Those small shops like the greengrocer who knew about what he sold, sourced quality locally, are becoming rare. Butchers who knew how to hang meat are being replaced with pre-packaged shelf fillers.

The concept of seasonal food has gone. You want strawberries at Christmas? We’ll fly them in from somewhere. Home growers know that seasonality, they are more in tune with nature and you don’t get many food miles clocked up walking back from the plot or up the garden.

More supermarkets? I don’t think so.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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