Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | December 5, 2007

Broader studies of GM’s effects needed

If the government had a chief social science adviser as well as Sir David King it would receive a more rounded view of the impact of science on society (Brown must embrace GM crops to head off food crisis – chief scientist, November 28). Decades of social science research have shown that agricultural “green revolutions” systematically impoverish already impoverished farmers because they can’t afford the technology, and GM would be no different. Likewise, nuclear fusion, another King favourite, is – on his own admission – at least 30 or 40 years away and therefore can’t be a technological fix for climate change. Of course we need good science – but we need good social science too.
GM is invasive and, if allowed to develop freely, will deny alternative choices for ever to those who wish to avoid it. I remain doubtful that such a fundamental step should ever be taken, and it certainly should not be without thorough empirical evidence of safety to human and animal health and to the environment. Such evidence needs to be painstakingly accumulated over a long period. It cannot be rushed. The suggestion by some, who should know better, that the absence of legal challenge in the US over a 10-year period is evidence of GM’s safety to humans is puerile. How can members of the public be expected to challenge the biotech companies in the absence of sound epidemiological evidence on the effect of GM in humans. Such research does not exist because neither the US government nor the biotech companies have wanted it.



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