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


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What agricultural regulation can learn from pharma

Medicine has moved from old wives’ tales to a discipline founded on evidence, but agriculture and conservation haven’t completely caught up. A new paper by Defra’s chief scientific advisor and a collaborator argues that insights from pharmaceutical science can inform pesticide regulation and monitoring.

During the early stages of discovery and testing, pharmaceuticals and pesticides are regulated in a similar way. However, this changes in the later stages of testing and after approval, when pesticide monitoring lags far behind. Continue reading

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Is that Fish in your Tomato? My book has been published!

Is that Fish in your Tomato? Rebecca Nesbit's book on genetically-modified foodsIt’s been an exciting month for me, starting with the release of my first popular science book. Is that Fish in your Tomato? explores the fact and fiction of GM foods, and is available in print or as an ebook. If you’re interested, please do head to Amazon or order it in your local bookshop.

It was fascinating to write, and I learnt a huge amount about our food system as a whole. It also gave me a glimpse into personal stories and motivations. The stories in there range from plant scientists modifying BB guns to fire DNA into onions, to live animals being used in early (failed) attempts at skin grafts.

It was made possible through the support of family and friends, and the many people who I interviewed whilst writing it. That support continues, so thank you to everyone who reads the book. You can see reviews on my website, and if you fancy adding a review to Amazon that would be much appreciated.


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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