View from the fence

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


6 Comments

We’re all biased – now we need to admit it

This week is Cereals – a huge arable farming event. Sadly I’m watching from the sidelines of Twitter, but at least things have quickly got interesting.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

How to change someone’s mind

This new video from Wellcome is so relevant to the GMO debate: ‘How to be convincing: 5 tips for the next time you’re trying to change someone’s mind’.

Watching it is 0:45 seconds very well spent, but I can summarise the message as approach a debate from the other person’s perspective and not your own.

This was created as part of Wellcome’s ongoing #ExpertDebate about whether we have really had enough of experts. Join in on Twitter. Continue reading


Leave a comment

How can we change people’s behaviour?

I recently woke to the news that environmental activists were arrested for scaling the roof of New Zealand’s parliament to raise awareness of climate change (my alarm is set to the Today programme, so I guess I’m not alone). This didn’t fill me with hope. I’m not sure awareness is the problem – what we’re lacking is action.

Take healthy eating as an example – it’s widely known what a healthy diet looks like, and also widely ignored. So I was interested to read a Global Food Security blog post about research into behaviour change. What could make people  switch to a healthy, sustainable diet?

Continue reading


4 Comments

GM is a distraction

This week I went to a debate at the British Library about ‘Biotech on the Farm’. A geneticist, an economist and a Friends of the Earth campaigner talked genetic modification, taxes and eating meat as part of the regular TalkScience series. There was far more which the panel agreed on than might have been anticipated, driven by the common understanding that we need to increase food production while protecting the environment.

The geneticist and Friends of the Earth campaigner found plenty of common ground, and plenty to disagree on. They both believe genetic modification is a distraction. Professor Sang believes the method of production is just a distraction – it’s the product that counts. She was keen to see regulations changed from process-based to product-based: if you produce a herbicide-resistant crop it should be assessed for safety in the same way regardless of how you produce it.

Vicki Hird from Friends of the Earth believed that GM is distracting us from the political issues preventing the distribution of the food we already produce. Continue reading


3 Comments

Jean-Claude Juncker, Greenpeace and ‘Madness’

This week nine environmental charities (including Greenpeace) wrote to Jean-Claude Junker requesting the abolition of the position of Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission.

The scientific community rallied together to write counter-letters to Mr Junker, speaking out in support of the Chief Scientific Advisor position and its role in evidence-based policy making. I’m pleased to say that I’m a member of two organisations which signed one of these letters. Continue reading