The GM nightmare... again

Lynda Brown - 25 May 2012

One of the many reasons I'm committed to organic food and farming is its stance on GM: it forbids the use of GM crops and ingredients in organic farming systems and food. It's always seemed to me to be an incredibly noble and brave stance. A dozen or so years after the first furore over 'Frankenstein Foods' engaged the nation, nothing has happened to make me change my mind.

Newsnight this week
and the Independent yesterday morning gives you the flavour of this well worn debate going nowhere. So, what have we learnt in the intervening years?

That, actually, GM doesn't work and doesn't deliver on its promises; that it has nothing to do with feeding the world and everything to do primarily with reaping large profits for a handful of biotech and chemical companies, pinning their hopes on creating a sci-fi techno fix to prop up intensive farming systems which everyone agrees are not sustainable in their current form; that, actually, we don't need it; that genetics has advanced and gene manipulation can be achieved within species - which logically, at least, has to be a sounder idea - so cross-species GM is already looking like yesterday's nightmare; that GM brings significant negative environmental, social and cultural impications that politicans seem deaf to; and that scientists seem blinkered when it comes to the awsomely awful prospect of biotech companies owning our food supply - what benefits will this bring us or a poor farmer in Africa?

I went to univeristy to study genetics, a wonderful science whose subject is the ulimate code, the miracle called life. I genuinely feel for scientists who absolutely believe there is a place for GM. But when you add up the world's population, they number so few, I don't see why they should hold court and ultimately decide what kind of food we eat, and we shouldn't.

It seems to me (I ended up studying Social Anthropology) that mankind has been trying to play God with Nature ever since he and she first stood up on two legs. It hasn't worked yet. Don't you think it's time to stop, and start doing truly sustainable Man kind science instead?

GM websites:

  • - a new website launched this week for citizens concerned about GM
  • - longstanding and knowledgeable GM campaign website calling for a freeze on GM food, crops and patents

Lynda is an award-winning food writer and broadcaster, and keen advocate for organic living. She is author of several food books over the last twenty years including Planet Organic: Organic Living, The Cook's Garden, and The Modern Cook's Handbook, as well as writing The Preserving Book that was published in 2010 in association with the Soil Association. Lynda is an expert on food and nutrition and a seasoned broadcaster, regularly speaking on food and farming both on the radio and television.

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