GM Free Cymru

German Court upholds publication of pamphlet exposing GM Mafia

A 36-page investigation into the manner in which GM crops and foods are promoted in Germany by a "Mafia" of interconnected interests has been released for publication and distribution by a recent court ruling. When the original German-language edition of the pamphlet appeared in 2009, two of those who were named in the investigation obtained a lower court injunction preventing distribution, and it took another year before a higher Saarland Court overturned that ruling on the grounds that the authors were entitled to their opinions and that the plaintiffs had not actually challenged any of the facts contained in the pamphlet. So now it is available in English as well as German.

The document does not pull its punches. It shows that the German GM Mafia is composed of individuals and corporations, small firms, research institutions, public regulators, and government agencies -- all bound together in a tight mutual support network. The GM promotion conspiracy is sometimes seen in the open, but it most often operates behind closed doors. And there are plenty of revolving doors too. (The document uses the term "rope teams" for the clandestine GM mutual support groups -- this is a difficult term for English-language readers, but it implies a very tight binding together of the key players.) The key points coming from the Report is that the GM Mafia is highly organized, well funded, and will do whatever it takes to get GM crops into the fields and GM food onto the plates of consumers. The authors make the point that although their study relates specifically to germany, there is no reason to assume that similar situations do not prevail in all other European countries as well. And of course, the various "GM Mafia" groups will also be in touch with one another through cross-border and pan-European committees, conferences, business meetings and other contacts.

Short Extracts:

Organised Irresponsibility

(German Rope Teams Involving Corporations, Public Regulators, Business Development and Lobbying for German Genetic Engineering)


This pamphlet introduces the German case of how small research companies interact with state authorities, funding bodies and public research institutions to establish genetically engineered plants as a reality. The text carefully describes the network relations between individuals who act in and through many of the institutions involved. The pamphlet shows how independent assessment of the risks of genetic engineering is structurally prevented in Germany. State authorities (just like in the UK) are supposed to exercise control over GMOs. This especially concerns questions of safety, environment and health. Case studies show that such control does not exist. The impression is this: a dense network of people and their organisations, capital and its agents, government authorities and its servants ensure that GMOs are released into the environment and used for food production.

Not scrutiny but rubber-stamping! In August 2009 two of the main German GM players (Uwe Schrader and Kerstin Schmidt) discussed in the booklet made a legal challenge against the assumed author of the booklet. They wanted to censor the text. A local court readily complied with the intentions of the GM players and the booklet was not allowed to be distributed anymore. Several weeks and months of struggle followed: the court actively denied the accused the right to defend himself and tried to prevent a legal hearing, i.e., the presentation of proofs for the analysis provided in this text. Clearly the court acted politically. It took a year, finally, until a revision moved this theater's stage to a higher court which actually had a look at the situation and recognised that the GM actors had not in fact challenged the facts laid out in the booklet. However, the text reconstructed these actors of German agricultural GM as dubious and ruthless: a mafia. The court decided that the GM actors had to accept this evaluation (court decision 25th August 2010). Consequently the ban of the distribution was lifted.

Unfortunately, even alternative political actors like Green party members or a Marxist newspaper are afraid of powerful GM actors. Thus, they do not support spreading this detailed critique. The German concept Seilschaft has been translated as "rope team". Literally, the term has connotations to mountaineering. It is a pejorative concept, referring to a group of people working together in a network to promote a common cause (in this case, GM) and \often clandestinely { support each other" (court decision 25th August 20102). Within a rope team, members may be closely entangled among each other. The closest equivalent in English seems to be old boys' network. We preferred using the concept `rope team' because it indicates the material and visible links between GM actors. They weave the thread of the GM story together and the thread is so powerful that it can be better imagined as a rope. And, then again, having too many threads and ropes intermingled causes sleaze { everything but transparent, not easy to get rid of, stable, a medium for further growth. Find more notes on the translation of the text at the end of the booklet.

This text covers:

Organised irresponsibility: An Introduction. An introduction to the topic and the actors involved, portraying the dense network of sleaze made up of science, agencies, and companies.

Protection for Corporations: EU- and Federal Agencies Governmental authorities are supposed to act in the interest of the people. This section shows how these authorities are strongly biased and pro GMOs. The most significant organisational e ect of the network relations surrounding the authorities is this: methods of control for Genetic Engineering (GE) are shaped by those who conduct the experiments. The cases show that rubberstamping GE eld trial applications represent the rule rather than the exception. This section covers both German as well as European governmental entities.

The Networks' Strongholds: An in depth account of the relations of the GE networks' research nodes. Lobby groups and informal networks A discussion of the lobbyists and revolving informal networks. This section shows how actors move within and between networks and how discourses and public perceptions are altered. Genetic Engineering: Controlling oneself and the public discourse This section sheds light on how socalled research into safety is used to stabilise social and legal environments such that they do not oppose GM. At the same time that biological safety research is carried out it turns obvious that any eld trial threatens global contamination.

A Finger in every pie (But not overtly: The corporations) This section points to the role of corporations and multinationals in controlling the small and medium enterprises (SME) publicly acting in German GM. Actors are well connected between large and global players and local GM initiatives. This booklet concludes by deconstructing the standard claims of GM proponents and pointing to the reasons why others are motivated to take direct action against GM.

The booklet in its original German version contains links and references to all the material on which this analysis is founded upon. These references have been partially translated. To a large degree, however, you will nd a straightforward reference to the corresponding footnote in the German version. End of 2010 a book has been published in the German language by this pamphlet's author showing in depth the analysis of the material. In the German version you will also find further graphical overview material. We would like to point, especially, to pages 16 and 17. They provide a visualisation of the network structure of actors as well as tabular access to German GM actors' relations. All general statements made about GM may be safely read as referring to the German case. However, reading about the social and organisational reality portrayed here does not suggest that the situation in other Western countries is likely to be very different. Rather, to be precautionary, we have to assume that equivalent rope teams exist all over Europe.

London, December 2010 / January 2011



"The political arena is entangled by an unpenetrable netting of experts, consultancies, special agencies, working groups, initiatives as well as by the diverse activities of their state servants who collaborate with industry to do both, risk assessment as well as risk communication. By that they turn public into the object of gambling. Within the centre of this network you normally would not nd the big players themselves but, rather, special agencies that are well linked to authorities, politicians, media and corporations. These agencies work as invisible strategists of industry sustained by public as well as private funding. They control rope teams and entanglements, they organise cliques at all levels, they in ltrated EU member states' institutions and have the power to define and redefine everything in their area."

Thus, while 6% of the German people are up for green genetic engineering, they control all relevant positions directly or indirectly.

This shall be the conclusion of the treatise. You also may find a page with ideas for resisting GM. Of course, this reader only provides a first introduction to the topic. The more you dig into the interdependencies of the players and money laundering, the worse is the result. In the context of the networks introduced in this reader you find even further institutions and entanglements of interests in power and profit. Examples are:

#The Patent Office is funded through patent applications. Thus, there exists an existential dependency on issuing patents on life itself.

#Among the GM corporations you will find a variety of co-operations and joint ventures. Again and again, you nd they develop plants together or complement each other through their profit-seeking interests in pesticides, seeds and further means of production in agriculture.

The sleaze is thick and effective. Those corporations, lobby groups and public institutions active within it manage to push through GM even though the compelling majority of the population opposes this technology; for that they use the political parties and quite a bit of media. As long as those 80% opposing GM do not start to effectively act, i.e. make their resistance an actual obstacle, they will simply have to observe how the availability of GM free food in supermarkets will diminish: the existence of cross pollination does not allow for co-existency. You can't expect salvation from authorities, associations and the nation-state. These are subject to the pressure of GM rope teams. The only solution is to fight GM at its source, i.e. at the fields, at the gates of corporations and at the docile executors of those authorities (ir)responsible for planning and supervision. If the latter administrate favouring the 6% GM proponents, then the many need to stop them. Sorry, but sending cards, donations and conscious green consumption (even though it might help a bit ) is not enough.