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GM feed in Ireland, environmental devastation in China

A new batch of cables between U.S. diplomats has been released by the infamous Wikileaks organization. Several have agriculture ties.

One, from 2007, regards the Irish government’s approach to GM crops as the European Union debates the technology. Ireland “recently agreed that the importation of genetically modified animal feed is acceptable under its GM-Free Ireland policy.”

The cable’s author writes: “Had Ireland banned the importation of GM animal feed, Irish cattle and dairy farmers would have incurred significantly higher costs over the winter, which would have been passed on to consumers.”

The full cable can be read here.

Another U.S. diplomatic cable, from 2009, regards Chinese water pollution and begins a harrowing evaluation of the Guangdong region by claiming “The following is neither an overstatement nor is it hyperbole. It is a fact. The contaminated waters … in Guangdong are as serious a threat to the region’s health and economic sustainability as the decline in exports, the closure of small and medium enterprises and the increasing utilization of land for nonproductive reasons.”

Pointing to a litany of environmental problems caused largely by factory run-off being dumped in rivers, the cable goes on to claim only 50 percent of the region’s wastewater is treated. “While it is hard to assess the impact of water pollution on human health here, it is clear that local residents in some heavily polluted areas are already displaying the effects including cancers, bone diseases and other disorders stemming from exposure to high levels of arsenic, cadmium and other toxins. Serious steps are needed to address these looming health issues, but no comprehensive strategy has yet been devised.”

Chinese agriculture is also in the mix. “The polluted water will further contaminate soil, vegetables, livestock and seafood through irrigation, flooding and food chains, leading to even higher cumulative exposure.”

The full cable can be read here

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