29 July 2008

Will GM growing go underground?

... Or will the plants fight back? Science and environmentalism have always had a slightly uneasy relationship but it's suddenly reached fever pitch.

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning reported that a leading scientist has likened environmental activists who destroy GM trial crops to book-burners in Nazi Germany. Controversial, but I can certainly imagine that those hundreds of researchers who pour their heart and soul into developing a new plant strain, designed to better help feed the world, must be devastated when they find their work lying in tatters in a field.

Some people have even suggested that there needs to be radically more security around GM crop tests... Armed bodyguards in the middle of the countryside, keeping an eye on the corn, or suchlike...

The fact is that the only way we'll ever know if GM crops are safe is to test them. Just like pesticides had to be tested many decades before they helped revolutionise crop productivity. On the whole, science has improved our lives, and farmers know this better than most.

That said, there is an argument to be made that the companies that control the way GM crops are sold to farms around the world may not be entirely fair. Picking a fight with an ear of corn isn't going to solve that problem.


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Angela Saini said...