In the last issue of Shape magazine there is an article on GM Foods. The title is: The great GM food debate, and below that it says “Thanks to science, crops grow faster and food stays fresher longer. But will it come back to haunt us?”.
That’s a great way to start a ‘balanced’ article, with one truth and one lie. There was a GM food which was created to last longer, a tomato. It had no taste, so nobody bought it and it was removed from the market. There is no GM food that grows faster than conventional crops. Over time and with the assistance of science, hybrid crops have been developed which grow faster, but that has nothing to do with genetic modification.
I think science is great. In fact I think genetics is a field of science with a lot of promise. I’m sure that they will come up with things which will be a great help to the human race. I wholeheartedly endorse research in the field of genetic modification. I just don’t believe that it’s right to use humans as guinea pigs (unless they volunteer) and irreparably damage the environment. I don’t want to go into great detail about all the false points in this Shape article, because I have already done that in response to the article in Men’s health, which you can read here.
Let me just list the things mentioned in the article which are not true:
GM crops grow faster – not true
Farmers have been buying seeds from scientists for a long time – not true (they do buy them but they can use the seed again, instead of having to buy them every year)
GM foods are assessed by independent laboraties – not true
GM foods are more stingently tested than any other food – not true
GM foods might be some of the safest foods you can eat – not true (this is actually a ridiculous statement)
Reduced exposure to chemicals is one of the advantages of GM crops – not true
No fruit and veg we buy in supermarkets are GM – not true
SA has strict GM regulation – not true
SA cannot afford to miss out on what GM has to offer – not true (quite the opposite in fact)
I’m not going to bore you with the details of why these statements are not true, although I would really liket to. The other articles on my site about GM foods address these issues already. There are one or two new points in this Shape article which I would like to talk about.
The one issue is the way they mix the different areas of GM together and give you the impression that you have to accept all of them or lose all of them. This is not true, it’s possible to grow GM crops in contained environments for pharmaceuticals. This does not mean that we also have to grow GM crops for human consumption. We could grow GM crops for biofuels, but not for consumption (although they are of no benefit to biofuels). However, having said that, there must be policies in place to ensure that there is no contamination of normal crops.
The other issue I would like to address again is regarding the current food crisis. Biotech companies are currently touting GM foods as the solution to the worlds food problem. They are not the solution and in fact will compund the problem if they are adopted in Africa. They are designed for big commercial farms, which is not what Africa has. The seeds and accompanying ferilisers are very expensive, which our farmers cannot afford.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, I don’t have a problem with research into genetic modification. But there have been no long term studies on the effects of GM crops and I don’t believe it is right to make us eat them until those studies have been done by independent organisations.
I quite enjoyed this article which also gives both sides of the debate.