September 25, 2003
GM Nation?

5 to 1 against GM crops in biggest ever public survey.

I have profoundly mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, I really can't say that I see any advantage to GM foods, at least not in the hands of Monsanto and the like. The current momentum towards GM is all part of the intensive high-yield low-quality agriculture industry which, along with the madness of the CAP and the like, are starving the 3rd World and costing the 1st in both money and choice.

But on the other hand, I have to say that I feel that the public's opposition to GM is driven more by ignorance and the naturalistic fallacy than by any informed objections.

None of the food that we eat is remotely natural - we've been genetically modifying our food for thousands of years, by selective breeding. Modern livestock and crop plants are so different from thier natural ancestors that it's doubtful that a present day farmer would even recognise them.

People have been eating GM food in the US for many years without any health problems at all.

Where real dangers may lie are in the environmental impact. Genes are known to transfer from species to species quite readily in the plant world, so care needs to be taken, and research needs to be done.

As is so often the case, in the end I think that people should be allowed to make their own choices. I remember thinking during the BSE scare that banning beef-on-the-bone was, well not exactly an over reaction, but too prescriptive. I think that food labelling would have been a more appropriate response to BSE, and also for GM foods. If you don’t want to eat GM foods until sufficient research has been done on the environmental impact, or indeed if you are worried about health risks in spite of the evidence, then strict labelling would give you the option.

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