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Why don't we grow our own GM food?

10th February 2010

Writing in The Times, Ross Clark argues that we need to grow GM food.

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Britain is a country that should have been leading the way with GM food production.

Some 14 years ago, we were at the forefront of it but allowed the campaigns against “Frankenstein foods” to succeed as protesters trampled down crops and were then cleared of criminal damage by magistrates.

GM research virtually stopped and commercial production never started while elsewhere in the world it became commonplace.

But those who believe Britain is a GM-free zone are deluded because two thirds of soya imported to Britain – a staple ingredient of many processed foods - is GM with many of us eating it.

And we are safer eating GM foods than other novel foods precisely because they have been subjected to exhaustive safety tests.

The same is true of the environmental argument against GM crops as huge efforts are made to guard against contamination of other plants by GM crops. Here, genetic modification offers solutions and protection.

The world will turn to GM crops, leaving Britain behind.

Food production has increased to keep up with population growth, through the increased use of land, pesticide and fertiliser.

But these all have environmental consequences too, so why should we rule out GM technology as well?

I believe that within 50 years most of the world will consume GM crops; that conventional crops will become “heritage food”; and unless we take the argument to the anti-GM protesters, Britain’s agribusiness will have disappeared entirely abroad, leaving us a poorer country.

 

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