A Focus On Nature

A Vision For Nature

What I want the natural world to look like by 2050 – by Mya-Rose Craig

Welcome to our series of blog posts in the run up to the general election (7th May 2015). Over this month AFON members will share their own Visions for Nature: what they want the natural world to look like by 2050 and how they want to get there. We have created a hashtag on Twitter so why not join the conversation? What’s your #VisionforNature?

Imagine a dystopian world where chemical companies control all food supplies. You can’t plant your own, they choose what you eat and the only food you receive is cancerous. It sounds like The Hunger Games gone wrong? This could be our reality by 2050.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are a short term approach creating long term problems. The chemical companies who make them first advertised them as normal crops that were slightly genetically altered to allow them to tolerate agro-chemicals and so overcome weeds and pests. However, as the insects and weeds grew immune to the chemicals used in GMO cropping, farmers were forced to buy more and more pesticides and herbicides; obviously, from the same chemicals companies. In the USA there are over 20 species of weed that are now resistant to herbicides with pest resistance also building up.

GMO crops with their increased toxins are a threat to our food and health. The poisons in them have been found in human breast milk and foetuses, which highlights that they may be transferred through the milk, eggs and meat of any animals (including humans) fed GMO food. Most chickens, pigs and dairy cows in the UK are now being fed GMO soya. This means that any non-organic dairy product in the UK, including things like baby milk and chocolate, potentially has GMO content and may well contain residues of the chemicals used in GMO cropping.

Almost all the research on the impact of GMOs on the environment and human health has been carried out by the chemical companies themselves or by scientists linked to them. Policy makers and politicians are only relying on research and information produced by the chemical companies. Without exception, the companies have refused to disclose any negative results from their research and studies have been for very short periods, with a typical length of study of only 3 months for food safety assessment.  So no one knows what the long term effects of GMOs and their associated pesticides will be on us and our environment.   Glyphosate, the active chemical in the herbicide Roundup used on 80% of GMO crops has recently been declared a “probably human carcinogen” by part of the World Health Organisation.

You may be saying that if someone is against GMOs then just don’t eat them, but it isn’t that simple. In the USA GMOs aren’t labelled, but it’s not for want of it. 91% of people over there want to know which food contains GMOs in. 53% say they would not eat GMOs if they could avoid it, but a shocking 80% of processed food in the USA has a GMO in. Where States have tried to create a law that foods containing GMOs had to be labelled, the chemical and food industries threatened to sue them. With the new TTIP trade agreement between the USA and the EU; that could be us in 10 years time.  Our supermarkets had promised to label all GMOs and had stopped selling them but they are now selling GMO fed animal products without labelling and potentially will be selling more GMO foods to us unlabelled in the future.

All the parties in the UK, except the Green Party, are pro planting GMO crops and planting could start after September 2016. The EU has already voted allowing GMOs to be planted.  This will lead to cross pollination which can occur up to 10 miles away.  The chemical companies do not allow their plants to be used for seed the following year and so farmers must pay for seeds each year.  Farmers whose crops are cross-contaminated should receive compensation but instead, in the USA, the chemicals companies insist farmers pay them as contaminated crops can be classed as GMOs. It could happen here. Allowing GMO’s into Europe will destroy ecosystems, kill bees and ruin the landscape. The long term effect on nature as well as the birds, animals and insects feeding on GMO crops with their increased toxins is unknown.  The only way to stop it is to lobby and petition.

So, what do I want the natural world to look like by 2050? What I want is a world where bees and insects can live safely alongside natural crops that don’t harm our environment. What I want is for GMOs to not be planted in the UK. What I want is a GMO free planet by 2050.

Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world.  She was the youngest person to see 3,000 birds in 2013 and she hopes to see her 4,000th bird in Antarctica, her 7th continent, in 2015.  She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol’s most influential young people.  Follow her on Birdgirl Facebook Page, and on Birdgirl Twitter.