It’s time to get clued up on GM

Posted on 19 Jul 2011 in Protect Nature | 3 comments

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Right now there’s rumpus going on in the food industry around this question: should Britain allow genetically modified crops and vegetables into all mass market animal feed and everyday food products (like the USA has done since the 1990s) or not?

It’s a crucial debate on what goes on your plate! It affects us all, so it’s time to get clued up on GM, which is why we’ve pulled together this bite-sized look at what’s going on.

On one side, the food corporations who fund the technology and own the patents argue it will help solve world hunger and create a biogenetic industry worth billions of pounds. On the other side, environmental groups and public interest groups are alarmed by the impact of this new technology on people, animals and the planet.

For the facts, check out this well researched info from Debate Your Plate.

For hiSbe the problem is about how this generation of GM technology is being used. If we’re going to use science to change how food grows it should be done in a way which protects people’s health and respects human rights and the interests of animals. However, this isn’t happening, because the big food companies championing GM put profit before people. There’s a lot of evidence to show it’s harming not helping.

So hiSbe supports soil-friendly farming that help the Earth instead of harming it. That’s why PROTECT NATURE is one of the hiSbe‘s 8 Everyday Choices

We also get involved in campaigns to tell the Government and the big supermarkets that we don’t want GM in our food, because there are plenty of simple things we can all do to help. Check out GM Freeze and their list of actions.

We’ve all got a part to play in what goes into our food because, as these guys say, “things change because people make them change.”

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3 comments

  1. Adam West / July 21st, 2011 0:19

    Putting safe, healthy and affordable food on the plates of every human being is what protects people’s health and addresses their human rights.
    If that means growing GM crops that require less pesticide, fertiliser or water, thus benefiting the environment then we have a win:win:win situation.
    So where’s the catch? The truth is, there isn’t one.
    We’re very fortunate that companies are prepared to spend millions developing clever technologies for our benefit in the same way that we are fortunate enough to have pharmaceutical drugs and plastics in everyday life.

    Reply

  2. David Tribe / May 28th, 2012 12:19

    It’s wonderful to have a website with a friendly invitation to conversation about a topic that sometimes misunderstood.
    I am a professional scientist who has followed the technology associated with improving food crops using modern methods for some 30 years or so. In my country, Australia, introduction of genetically modified cotton reduced the usage of synthetic chemical pesticides on cotton by about 80% or more and greatly improved the health of farmers and farm districts growing cotton. These insect protected crops have even been more important in China and India where they reduce the hazardous exposure of farmers who directly spray crops with synthetic pesticides but whose usage of sprays is far less with genetically modified insect protection of their cotton crops.
    The excessively cautious approach to use of this technology in farming in Europe has had very bad consequences in developing countries where it has slowed down the availability of important benefits to nutrition like vitamin A precursor fortified rice (Golden Rice).
    These unfortunate delays have probably meant the preventable deaths of hundreds of thousands of children who become susceptible to infectious diseases because of vitamin A deficiency in diets heavily relying on rice. These delays have been mainly caused by agitation by European NGOs in Asia to promote unnecessary regulatory barriers to genetically manipulated crops. Golden rice is a strictly humanitarian project. A serving a day of this rice could greatly assist better nutrition and remove much vitamin A deficiency. Other deficiencies being reached by other GM crops are iron and zinc.
    We are now starting to see other types of benefits from modern gene technology it has potential to greatly improve the sustainability of agriculture. Already it has reduced CO2 emissions by enabling the wider use of no-till farming and the avoidance of burning much diesel oil in tractors needed for heavy tillage of the soil.
    A new GM based nutritional development relating to bread is the enhancement of soluble fibre in wheat by genetic manipulation which scientists in Australia have achieved. Similar high soluble fibre rice has been proved to be beneficial to the health of people in China because it has a low GI.

    That’s all for now from me. I applaud you for your open-mindedness and welcoming website.
    Send me questions anytime. @gmopundit on Twitter or gmopundit.blogspot.com
    Dr David Tribe, Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne.

    Reply

    • Ruth / May 28th, 2012 18:12

      Thanks David for your insights and views. We think it’s crucial to explore innovation that helps us to reduce our reliance on chemical pesticides, because of their unsustainable and sometimes unethical impacts – and it’s clear that you think the same. The GM innovation in cotton seems to be a great solution. Organic cotton farming could be another.

      However, at hiSbe we worry that GM opens the door to big agro-chemical companies hijacking farming by patenting crops, as has happened in the USA. Golden rice and such humanitarian projects may be helpful as you say, but their successes will be used to push through products that don’t have a clear consumer or producer benefit, but simply aim to produce more output with less inputs, in the interest of maximising profits.

      The question that we would like Governments and scientists to ask themselves is this; how can we pursue scientific solutions to sustainable farming without putting power into the hands of big corporations that want to commoditise and overproduce food simply as a profit driver?

      Reply

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