A Danish farming newspaper has caused quite a stir by devoting a sizeable part of its 13 April edition to the discoveries by pig farmer lb Borup Pedersen that GM soy has a damaging effect both on his animals and on his farming profitability. On the front page of the paper there was a lead story under the headline “Pig farmer reaps gains from GMO-free soy”. On a sidebar the paper referred to Mr Pedersen’s contention that DDT and Thalidomide were minor problems when set alongside GMOs and Glyphosate. In an Editorial Comment on page 2, the paper argued that it would be grossly irresponsible for the authorities to ignore or ridicule the discoveries made by the farmer in his pig farming operations, and it congratulated the authorities for commissioning a new study designed to determine whether stomach lesions and other effects might be associated with GM soy; in the study 100 animals will be fed with non-GM soy and 100 with GM soy in their diets.
On pages 6 and 7 of the paper there was a big article written by Anne Wolfenberg, who is a very experienced journalist who knows the Danish pig farming industry well. This article was leaked in draft form, translated into English and widely circulated, appearing on various web sites. GM-Free Cymru helped with that translation, in the belief that this was the final published version and that the farmer, the writer and the newspaper would be happy to see it circulated to an English-speaking readership. Full acknowledgement and citation were made. However, we did not realise that there were one or two small errors in the draft which were corrected in the final printed version; and partly on that basis we received a complaint from the author. We apologised for the misunderstanding, and the article was immediately removed from the GM Watch web site. We also asked an American web site which had used the article to take it down, in line with the journalist’s wishes. This was also done.
In deference to the concerns of Anne Wolfenberg, we are not including any translation of her article here. Instead, we have spoken to Mr Pedersen, and he has kindly given us permission to use content from his Powerpoint presentation, to use direct statements made by him, and to use his photographs. On that basis we have assembled the first part of this dossier.
In the second part of the dossier, we examine the key points arising from the coverage of this issue in the Danish farming newspaper Effektivt Landbrug. We congratulate the editor and the journalists involved on a very effective and well-researched piece of investigative journalism, and for having the courage to publish it in spite of the anger it was bound to provoke! We also congratulate Mr lb Pedersen for his very careful record keeping and for making the decision to place it in the public domain, in the public interest.
In the third part of this dossier we have translated a press release relating to the new Danish research project which will examine the effects of GM soy on pigs during the period of weight gain from 30 kg to slaughter at c 110 kg. While we applaud the fact that this research will be conducted, we are concerned that the feeding of the weaned animals from 7 kg (28 days) up to the 30 kg weight will potentially mask GM effects and compromise the results. As the newspaper suggests, it will be in nobody’s best interests if these trials are mistrusted or later found to be fraudulent. Dr Brian John from GM-Free Cymru agrees, and says: “We have been involved in GM issues for more than a decade, and we know the score. We can take it as read that there are large sections of the GM industry, and maybe large parts of the farming community, especially in the United States, who will move heaven and earth to prevent anything damaging to the GM cause from seeing the light of day. We suspect that huge pressure has already been put on the Danish journalist and her newspaper by certain interested parties, including farming unions, agrichemical companies and so forth. That is plain stupid of them; their interests are served least of all if real animal welfare and food safety issues are brushed under the carpet.”
In the fourth part of the dossier we report on an interview with another Danish farmer whose experiences relating to a shift from GM soy animal feed to non-GM soy feed appear to match very closely the experiences of Mr Pedersen.