Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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October 13, 2003

GM crops like thalidomide say insurance companies

Major agricultural insurance companies are refusing to underwrite risks of genetically modified crops in what appears to be a prescient way of avoiding future losses.

Comments from the insurers liken the hidden liabilities of genetic modification with the desaster of Thalidomide, a drug which in the early sixties gave us thousands of deformed babies (who grew up into thousands of seriously handicapped adults) after great sales hype had convinced everyone, including pregnant mothers, of the merits of their new wonderful prescription.

GMOs are an unknown - the risks are not fully understood, according to NFU Mutual, the insurance arm of the National Farmers' Union, a body in favour of GM crops.

No insurance cover for GM crops that 'could be like thalidomide'
By Robert Uhlig Farming Correspondent
(Filed: 08/10/2003)

The major agricultural insurance companies are refusing to insure farmers who intend to grow genetically modified crops, according to a survey that deals a further blow to Government hopes of approving at least one crop for commercial cultivation next year.

The survey, conducted by working farmer members of Farm, a campaign group, found insurance companies unwilling to take on the risk of liability claims against farmers who grew GM crops.

Leading rural insurance underwriters told the farmers that they were concerned that "GM could be like thalidomide - only after some time would the full extent of the problems be seen".

Some spoke of the potential of lawsuits akin to the big payouts for asbestos-exposure victims.

"Fifty years ago, insurers were writing policies for asbestos without a care in the world. Now they are facing claims of hundreds of millions of pounds," one underwriter told the farmers.

"The insurance industry has learned to be wary of new things, and there is a real feeling that GM could come back and bite you in five years' time."

Rural insurers are so concerned at the scope for liability claims if the Government approves GM crops that they are even refusing to insure non-GM farmers against losses or liability due to contamination by GM pollen.

The problem of how to grow GM crops and conventional varieties has proved to be such a difficult issue to resolve that the Prime Minister's advisers have repeatedly failed to reach a consensus.

The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, which advises the Government, is expected to deliver a much-delayed report on co-existence by the end of the month.

All the insurers surveyed felt that too little was known about the long-term effects on human health and the environment to be able to offer any form of cover for farmers growing GM crops.

Even NFU Mutual, the insurance arm of the National Farmers' Union, which is in favour of GM crops, will not provide insurance for farmers wanting to grow GM crops. A spokesman said the company believed the risks were not fully understood and advised farmers to seek cover through the biotechnology companies that own the patent to GM seeds.

Agricultural Insurance Underwriters Agency, which underwrites policies for Norwich Union and Sun Alliance, said it had an exclusion clause for liability arising from GM crops.

Rural Insurance Group, which underwrites Lloyds policies, puts GM crops in the same bracket as acts of terrorism and excludes them from cover.

BIB Underwriters Limited, which underwrites AXA policies, said it would turn down any policy that has any association with GM, including cover for farm building and property insurance as well as public liability. A spokesman said that aside from the problems of cross contamination, BIB anticipated a risk of claims associated with arson or vandalism due to anti-GM protesters.

Robin Maynard, the national co-ordinator of Farm, said: "When insurers quantify GM crops in the same category as thalidomide, asbestos and terrorism, no thinking farmer should risk their business and public reputation by taking on this unproven, unwanted and unnecessary technology."

Source: Daily Telegraph

See also:

Many Organic Foods Contaminated With GM Crops

Even Mice Don't Like Genetically Modified Food

Insurance cover refused to GM farms (The Times)

GMO independent science panel

Bayer not responsible...

Battle for the seed

US General Accounting Office

GMO no thanks! say British

Flawed GM tests must start over

Percy Schmeiser vs. Monsanto

GM giant abandons bid to grow crops in Britain


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Monday October 13 2003
updated on Sunday November 21 2010

URL of this article:





Readers' Comments

Iam doing a research about GM crops in relation to insurance. and wounder what have to be done for a company/farmer do be able to insure GM crops. Can they somehow reduce the risk or is it no way for them to insure GM crops

Posted by: stefan on February 15, 2004 04:58 PM


Just saw this article which is from 2001 but relevant to the issue:

GM bug 'could end all life'

Posted by: Josef on March 12, 2004 03:27 PM


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These articles are brought to you strictly for educational and informational purposes. Be sure to consult your health practitioner of choice before utilizing any of the information to cure or mitigate disease. Any copyrighted material cited is used strictly in a non commercial way and in accordance with the "fair use" doctrine.



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