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• 03•04•2004 •

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GM Crops & Developing Countries

GM crops are 'irrelevant to eradicating hunger' and benefits 'not proven'

29 March 2004

Science Review ambivalent about GM Crops; food safety section drafted by Monsanto

UK government Science Review reported on 21 July 2003.

The food safety section of the report was written by Monsanto. Unsurprisingly this says that human health is at a "very low" risk from the current generation genetically modified (GM) crops.

In the House of Commons on Thursday 17 July, Joan Ruddock MP asked the new Environment Minister Elliot Morley if he was concerned that the food safety section had been written by a Monsanto employee. Morley did not reply.

On biodiversity, the report is clear: "Unquestionably, the largest gap in our knowledge is the impact that GM Herbicide Tollerant cropping would have on biodiversity.

...and it admits that for pest resistant GM crops: "Agronomically realistic ecological studies comparing the impacts on biodiversity of the use of GM pest resistant crops with conventional insecticidal crop treatments should be undertaken for any GM pest-resistant crops that are being considered for commercial release in the EU. This research will be needed in future if lectins, protease inhibitors and other endotoxins are introduced into commercial [GM]crops especially for industrial end-use. "

Media Coverage

21 July 2003

IC News 21 July: NO BLANKET APPROVAL FOR GM CROPS: There is no scientific case for ruling out all genetically modified crops and their products. That was the findings of a GM Science Review Panel published today. But the experts said the results of its full and open review of the current scientific knowledge on GM crops and foods does not give them blanket approval. The report emphasised that GM was not a single homogenous technology and its applications needed to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

BBC Today programme 21 July @ 06:50: Michael Meacher calls on UK government to invoke Precautionary Principle, as allowed under EU legislation, and not allow commercialisation of GM crops before rigorous health and environmental tests have been carried out and have found no risk.

Guardian 21 July: it will take more than GM technology to solve the problem of world hunger. "It's always going to take more than just GM technology, but it can and is making a real contribution to these countries that need it most," says Clive James, ISAAA

BBC 21 July: "...there are doubts about the effect on wildlife in the countryside. ...also ... concerns about the flow of genetic material to non-GM crops - it may be difficult, if not impossible, to grow certain crops because the GM genes would spread too far.

BBC 20 July: "government review of GM science is unlikely to provide any clear answers."

Observer 20 July: Quoting former Environment Minister Michael Meacher. "This is just a rehash of existing reports and includes no data of systematic trials to test GM food safety. This is Iraq Mark 2: there is no supporting evidence for action, the public don't like it and the Government seems determined to over-rule all opposition."

Independent 20 July: "The widespread planting of GM crops in Britain could severely damage wildlife such as birds and insects, an expert scientific review will warn".

farm - the independent voice of farmers 18 July: "This ambiguous response from the Scientific Review provides insufficient justification for the Government to override the public hostility to GM crops as confirmed by the nationwide debates or the lack of economic benefits identified in the Strategy Unit's 'Costs & Benefits' analysis. "

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