Tuesday, October 21, 2003
GM offers measurable risks + benefits to environmentA recent farm-scale assessment of the environmental impact of three genetically modified crop plants (maize, oilseed rape + sugar beet) has found that GM technology can offer both risks + benefits to the environment.
GM oilseed rape + sugar beet have been found to attract fewer insects than their non-GM equivalents, while GM maize attracts a more diverse range of insects - in part because of reduced pesticide use!
These mixed results have been taken as a vindication by both the pro- and anti-GM camps in the GM debate, but in reality offer us only a tiny portion of information we will need before finally accepting or rejecting the ability to deliberately insert specific genes into new plant species...
The results of this study do however highlight the importance of assessing this technology on a case-by-case basis, of reducing the use of pesticides + of considering the many different types of impact major changes in farming practices + technology will have before applying them.
To Earth-Info.Net the fact that the benefits to society of exploiting such a uncertain + profound technology are unclear means that we need to apply the precautionary principle when assessing GM crops and to think much harder about solving some of the problems GM is said to answer in alternative ways... such as eliminating projected shortages in global food supply by improving the global distribution of food and reducing our tolerance/subsidies of unnecessary waste + environmental degradation along the length of the entire food chain.
You can read the article published by the scientists in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society here
See here for a summary of the conclusions of the recent GM Nation debate.
The UK's Co-op supermarket chain has also announced that it has banned GM crops from all of it's farms + products...
Posted 5:18 pm by Matt Prescott