Monday, 1 July 2013
Another week, another food scare. I doubt if few were surprised this weekend to hear infected meat is in the food chain. The horse meat saga exposed the uselessness of the Food Standards Agency who, to my knowledge, still have not traced the corrupt sellers.
The other week there was another important food issue which seemed to slip by unnoticed by many. The environment minister Owen Paterson, urged the UK to lead a European farming revolution using Genetically modified crops, which he says will reduce fertiliser and chemical use and improve efficiency.
In his speech he attempted to make both an economic and moral case for GM crops to be grown widely both in the UK and in developing countries.
What is the Westminster government's obsession with GM crops? I suspect it has more to do with the economic and institutional power associated with the technology than its performance. Dr Mercola, along with many others, has protested for some years against this technology which may have wholly unforeseen consequences.
Owen Paterson said in his speech '... we owe a duty to the British public to reassure them that GM is a safe, proven and beneficial innovation'. I will take some convincing to believe it's safe and disagree the science is proven. Hundreds of GM disasters happen annually but are seldom reported. You can read about a few which happened in 2012 here.
The moral case is nonsense. We have no choice in the matter. GM foods are not labelled and politicians are strongly against such labelling. It's the same with halal foods - we have no choice. There's a determination within the circles of power to deny us the right to decide whether we buy traditionally grown food or food which has been altered to suit big business interests.
There are emerging biotechnologies which seem to be ignored at present but it's up to the public to ensure all these are fully evaluated and debated in public.
The debate has a long way to run because currently there is no evidence that GM crops will deliver for farmers or food security. Despite decades of research, there are still no miracle crops to tackle the challenges agriculture faces, such as water shortages and public demand.
Perhaps a return to traditional farming methods would be no bad thing. Many other European countries are wary of promoting GM crops. Why is the UK so determined to inflict them upon the population?