View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news


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The precautionary principle

Pretty much everyone with an environmentalist streak tends to be of a ‘better safe than sorry’ mindset when making decisions about the future of the planet. This even has an official term to make it acceptable in policy situations: the precautionary principle. It’s often used as an argument against GM crops.

Taking fewer risks with the environment sounds extremely wise to me, but life involves some risks, so do we need to move towards a thorough cost-benefit analysis?

This is being debated in London on Tuesday (1st April) and sadly I will be at a plant science conference so can’t come. Instead I’m going to persuade lots of people to go so they can tweet, and get my word in here.

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Industry funding of research isn’t ‘hidden’ or corrupt

Last week, the Council for Science and Technology released a (very positive) report on GM, calling for more trials, more investment, and a more evidence-based regulatory system. This was widely reported elsewhere with barely a mention of unhelpful phrases such as ‘frankenfood’, so for a summary I would suggest the BBC, the Guardian, or the Guardian’s analysis.

Sadly, the next day the Daily Mail had its say: ‘Scientists’ hidden links to the GM food giants’. For a start the headline is misleading because information about industry funding of research institutes is freely available. It then goes on to attack individual scientists in a way that is not constructive to the debate (including names and photos). Here are my problems with their article: Continue reading


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February news round-up

EU executive set to back new GM crop

The crop in question is a insect-resistant maize for human consumption. Ministers and diplomats from 19 of the 28 EU countries opposed approval, but that’s not enough to reject the crop. There will likely also be a proposal on GM cultivation that would allow individual member states to ban GM crops if they wished.

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