‘Politicians must promote GM food’

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, Gm

John Stevenson MP, chairman of the All-Party Group for Food and Drink Manufacturing.Stevenson understands that industry doesn’t want to take the lead
John Stevenson MP, chairman of the All-Party Group for Food and Drink Manufacturing.Stevenson understands that industry doesn’t want to take the lead
Politicians and academics need to do more to promote the benefits of genetically modified (GM) food because the food industry canvt be expected to take the lead on such a sensitive subject.

That’s the view of John Stevenson MP, chairman of the All-Party Group for Food and Drink Manufacturing.

Stevenson said he welcomed recent pro-GM statements by environment secretary Owen Paterson, but said there needed to be a broad range of voices promoting its benefits.

“I give full credit to the secretary of state for trying to get the debate going again. I am very much supportive of him and I think it is something that we as a society have to look at,”​ said Stevenson.

Appropriate safeguards

“I suspect that industry does not want to take the lead and I fully understand that, so therefore it falls on academics, government and the wider public to debate the issues and ask whether this is something Britain is prepared to do and put in the appropriate safeguards.”

Stevenson predicted that food security would become a major political theme over the next five to 10 years and said it was inevitable that GM products would hit supermarket shelves.

“I think with a rising population it is inevitable and with a lot of the rest of the world already having accepted GM, I think it is something we need to do as well.

“The danger is, if we don't, we get left behind and the food technology and products go elsewhere along with the institutions and the experts. If we decide in 10 or 15 years to get involved, the benefit may have gone elsewhere. This is not just an issue for the UK, it is one for the whole of Europe.”

Not take decades

When pushed on when he would like to see GM products on sale, Stevenson said he hoped it would not take decades and added that politicians and industry would have to proceed at a pace consumers were comfortable with.

“The need for higher yields will drive this to a certain extent,”​ he added. ​I suspect that the poor harvests of last year in Britain and abroad may well have an impact on prices in which case that might increase the level of debate even further.”

Last month agrifood group BASF announced it was abandoning efforts to gain EU authorisation for three GM potatoes after over a decade of investment and research. The company said: “Investment cannot be justified due to uncertainty in the regulatory environment and threats of field destructions.

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8 comments

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The debate is already over

Posted by Jennifer Christiano,

Oh, give it a rest!!!! The era of 'debate' over GMOs is long since over for everybody except those with an insatiable political or profit motive tied to pushing Frankenfoods down the pubic's throat. The rest of us have screamed: "Get this dangerous and poorly regulated technology off of our dinner plates and out of our environment!" Have you tried listening?

We're prepared to let the experts and technologies related to this deadly misuse of technology go elsewhere – preferably, to another galaxy.

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Silly statement

Posted by Cathy Swqan,

Politicians are unqualified to be promoting genetically engineered products and since genetics is not as far advanced as some think, and the safety of products is unproven, commercial interests need to act ethically and put health before profits.

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Promote that which is truly beneficial

Posted by Quetzalcoatl,

Why would anyone promote GM based on the current data showing low yields, dubious long-terms safety data and alarming environmental impact evidence?

Any self respecting individual who can read, would clearly understand that the marketing yield claims of GM crops have not been realised, and that their safety is questionable, while GM pollen and increased herbicide use is having a negative effect on the environment.

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