What’s the problem with GM food?

Genetically modified (GM) tomato puree first appeared on British shelves back in 1996 without debate. Then, in in 1999, there was a controversial study – subsequently criticised by experts – which suggested that GM potatoes damaged the digestive tracts of laboratory rats.  Since then, we’ve had virtually no GM foods in Britain and protesters have even prevented any attempt to run trials.

Meanwhile 25 countries – including China, India, Argentina and Brazil – now grow GM crops with the total area under cultivation larger than Peru. The GM seed market is now worth over $10 billion a year and the crops grown from that seed is worth over $130 billion a year.

More than three-quarters of the soya beans, roughly half the cotton, and over a quarter of the maize  grown around the world are now genetically modified.  Some 14 million farmers now benefit from the technology, around 90% of them in poor countries.

So what is the case against testing in the UK and is there real evidence of any health risk? The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set up an independent steering group to shape and manage a public dialogue on food and the use of genetic modification.  It’s time to be rational about GM food.


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