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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:03am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 1:21am

Time to modify our stance on GM food

Millions of activists marched around the world over the weekend against seeds giant Monsanto and the genetically modified crops it produces, according to news reports. Millions? Can so many still be so misguided?

Perhaps they have been stuck in a time-warp since the late 1990s, a time when there were justifiable public concerns about GM's potential threat to human health and the environment. Today, two decades on and after hundreds of millions have eaten GM food, any opposition is ideological, nothing more. If you consume food that contains corn and soya bean, chances are they have been modified. Cotton crops? For sure! How many actual food crises have been caused by GM products in the past two decades? Exactly zero. Because of the amount of science, technology and tough regulation involved, genetic modification is at least as safe, if not safer, than conventional crop growing.

Think of all the recent genuine food scandals around the world - and I don't mean false alarms raised by groups like Greenpeace - not a single one was GM-related.

China's milk scandal in 2008? Melamine. Mad cow disease? You know the answer. The 2005 E coli food outbreak in South Wales; salmonella-infected egg production in Britain; the euro cucumber scare, related to an E coli outbreak, in Germany in 2011; dioxin-tainted Irish pork in 2008 … You can go on and on and never get to a crisis caused by GM. Some of the anger against GM has to do with the fight against corporate greed, and the fear GM technology and patents may be dominated by a few bio-tech giant like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta.

That makes the opposition of anti-GM radicals even more counterproductive. Small companies are deterred from entering the field. Effectively, sustained GM opposition helps create a high barrier to entry, making sure only a few well-funded corporations like Monsanto dominate the field.

GM opposition is also dangerous. The European Union's punitive regulatory regimes against GM make it difficult for African countries with histories of famine and food crisis to use the technology. With drastic climate change and rising population, it's irresponsible to oppose such crop-improvement technology.


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This article is now closed to comments

Perhaps number of deaths directly caused by terminator seeds and GM industry's extensive lobbying efforts to avoid labeling should all be overlooked for the better of the common people who do not know what is best for them.
Bob Phelps
Peer-reviewed scientific papers show some varieties of genetically manipulated soy, corn and canola harm experimental animals. Regulators ignore this evidence and (in Australia) assess chemical analysis data from licence applicants themselves. Such data gives insufficient assurance of GM safety as they apply the assumptions of 'substantial equivalence'. A few GM parameters are compared with conventional food and if the GM component appears roughly similar (no values are set in advance), the regulator concludes GM is as safe as the conventional food. That's not proof!!
To say many meals contained GM ingredients and caused no harm is silly. There is no systematic surveillance of the impacts of individual foods on human health so there is a lack of evidence. Most GM is produced & eaten in the USA as high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, cottonseed and canola oil, etc. The food-related health of Americans is in general decline & GM may be a factor. Most GM is used for animal feed and biofuels but the meat, milk & eggs from animals fed GM is also assumed to be safe & is unlabelled.
The UN IAASTD report ****www.unep.org/dewa/Assessments/Ecosystems/IAAST shows how global food security can be achieved, even as oil and phosphates are depleting & the climate is changing. GM crops yield no more than the best conventional varieties & depend on expensive agrichemicals and patented seed. GM cannot help to feed Africans as it would increase inequity & make food less affordable.
Another typically ignorant article... do a search on Google. Read the news on prop 37 in California about how Monsanto spent millions to lie and deny GMO labeling. Then read up what happened to the Indian farmers and how they are trying to de-link this story ****www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/201332813553729250.html Then read how the Indian farmers are planning to sue Monsanto ****www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2013/03/5-million-farmers-sue-monsanto-for-7-billion.html#sthash.r0Zr9vJo.dpbs
Then, for the sake of your children. Use your conscience to start writing please.
This article ignores overwhelming evidence of the dangers of GMO and one really ought to be suspicious of why SCMP does not let the other side present their case.
The company, Monsanto, that is mentioned in the article has a controversial history to say the least. Watch the documentary "Controlling our Food" on Youtube to see the atrocities that this corporation is getting away with. The hid the truth from authorities with regards to PCB effects on human health before it was known. The whole world is now contaminated with PCBs. Many diseases is caused by PCBs, such as cancer. They settled by paying 700 m USD to compensate victims to clean up site. Nobody was sued. Google "Anniston PCB". Roundup, used for GMOs, is highly toxic and promotes cell division dysfunction (Robert Belle). It provokes the first stage that leads to cancer with test doses well below commonly used. Belle was told not to communicate the findings. Toxiticy was hidden to protect development of GMOs.
GMO soybeans has a gene modification that creates a protein to resist Roundup. Dan Glickman, prev. Sec. of Agriculture, at the time of approving GMO soybeans, said that lots of people in the industry did not want investigations and he had a lot of pressure not to push the issue from multinational. FDA policy does not even require additional testing for GMOs. J Maryanski, heading the department at the time, said GMO regulation was based on politics rather than science.
Jeffery Smith authored several critical books on GMOs. Michael Hansen and Jeremy Rifkin, denounced the principle of substantial equivalence of GMOs as based on a deception in the FDA that approved it. To consider food "Generally Recognized As Safe", there was not the prerequisite overwhelming evidence and broad scientific consensus. M Hansen argues that GMO should be considered a food additive. How can it be so that genetic modification does not require any checks? It is a way to paper over the need for Monsanto to move products to the market.
George Bush Sr visited Monsanto's facility 9 years before Roundup was sold. Deregulation was the administration's tune. Environmental and safety testing were Monsanto's key problems.
Bovine Growth Hormone, Posilac, is a transgenic recombinant hormone injected in cows to boost milk production by 20%, developed by Monsanto. Richard Burroughs reviewed the data submitted by Monsanto in 1985 for Posilac approval and pointed out there was lacking data. FDA pulled in people to sidetrack him, show less data and finally fired him. Burroughs was threatened by a Monsanto lawyer of legal action. FDA was forced to reinstate him, he resigned, disheartened. There were dramatic physiological changes in the animals receiving the shot compared with their peers and it was found to threaten human health. S Chopra blew the whistle on the scandal. It was banned in Europe and Canada.
Alex...it almost reads like you are on Monsantos payroll!....Do some research on the weedkiller "Roundup".
Simple logic suggests make any change in the food chain and the results....are pretty much unfathomable....given the interdependence of things.
"Most GM is produced and eaten in US..." .wot nonsense.
In effect all soybeans from Argentina and Brazil are GM modified so almost every pig in China, for example, is fed on GM meal, as is the case elsewhere in the world.
Between Argentina, Brazil and paraguay 120 million hectares are under GM crop cultivation.
And China's GMO vast industry itself is now THE world's leading boom-region in bio-tech foods production and retail. For 10 or more years already. Guess why it would not be, of course!! Alex Ho's trite perversity in this little story deserves only derision.


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