So I read this story in the BBC Trust Review…
[Kirtana Chandrasekaran] claimed that GM crops are a risk to health (no convincing evidence, after twenty years of study), that they will contaminate other potato varieties (almost all varieties of commercial potato are grown from tubers rather than seeds; no risk of cross-contamination), that antibiotic [resistance] genes will spread in the environment and cause health problems (impossible; no genes for medically revelant antibiotics in the crop itself but they are widespread in the billions of bacteria we eat, with no harm, each day), that conventional varieties may also have disease or insect resistance (partly true, but the point of GM is to bring them together), that there are no commercially viable GM crops in the UK (largely because of the activities of the anti-GM movement; there are billions of dollars worth across the globe), that GM is unnecessary and ineffective (why are there a hundred million hectares of such crops?), that they are driving deforestation (the opposite is true with the success of GM soy as animal fodder), that they lead to increased pesticide use (little evidence that this is correct) and that most agricultural research money is devoted to genetic modification (wrong). In the face of these claims, the programme simply moved on.
[Today, 8 June 2010]
And, you know, it’s here on my blog now because WTF?
I’m not going to argue about GM. There are legitimate concerns, it’s just that the people who are really really against it don’t know about them. There isn’t any GM farming in the UK anyway, and the reason is public opposition, which I think is great. Not that there is public opposition. I mean, I’m pro-GM, but mildly pro. I don’t care that much, as the problems it is designed to solve can be solved other ways, but I am pro solving those problems and I don’t have anything against GM. But lots of people do and you know what? The government listened. Supermarkets which overtly label GM-free when all evidence so far (and yes, longitudinal studies haven’t had time to take root, but there are plenty of shorter studies) prove it to be harmless listened. We, the public, have a voice. And that is incredibly reassuring.
So I’m not going to argue about GM (neither is Professor Jones, the author of the Report), but I do want to reiterate this message of his:
In this debate, emotion and disinformation have prevailed; certainly one should be free to dismiss GM, but on a real rather than imaginary basis.
The arguments outlined above have been graced with a counter argument supplied by Professor Jones. I don’t pretend to know about all of them, and I don’t pretend to know his sources, but if you have any doubts about GM, I urge you to find those sources, read the research, find more and determine for yourself whether you think GM is safe or not. There’s nothing quite like evidence.