GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Sir, Not being a scientist, technologist or biochemist makes me eminently
qualified to discuss the fashionable issue of genetically modified foods.
Al the screeds of scientific evidence an the deliberations of food experts
lack one essential ingredient - the common-sense view of the normal
consumer.
Like most scientific experiments, genetically modifying foods started with
the best of intentions.  If plants can he made less resistant to disease
and herbicide weedkillers can be used more sparingly, this must be good:
more food to feed the Third World and a more environmentally friendly
approach to farming.
The principle must be applauded, but in practice we are corrupting nature
and we have sufficient evidence to show that nature fights back -
salmonella, listeria, BSE.  The so-called experts allowed dead sheep to be
eaten, by herbivores - and we were used as human guinea-pigs.
Whilst most o us are still struggling to understand the terminology, the
chances are we're already eating genetically modified foods.  Tomato paste
and some cheeses are currently available in supermarkets; they have
generally been claimed to have enhanced flavour qualities at more
competitive prices and have been labelled as being "genetically modified".
The consumer has hitherto had a clear choice.
We are now faced with a different problem: labelling may no longer be an
option, largely because of the creation of a genetically modified soya bean
by the chemical multinational Monsanto in America.  With the sanction of
the US food authorities, this has been mixed with natural soya and put into
world-wide distribution, and it will thus become impossible for
manufacturers and retailers to know the true source of the soya in their
products and to label them accordingly.
Genetically modified maize is also winging its way over the " pond": same
problem, different company Ciba-Geigy - but potentially more of a threat.
Maize has been genetically modified to make it resistant to the European
corn-borer pest, but this process may make animals feeding on the maize
resistant to antibiotics: a classic case of solving one problem only to
create another.
It is totally unacceptable that American companies should dictate to us in
We must demand total traceability for all food and clear labelling.
Natural and genetically modified foods must, in the future, be separated at
source and processed, transported and utilised in food manufacturing
accordingly.
Government action is needed on counts: we must know the source products and
labelling must be mandatory.  By genetically modifying we are messing with
the building blocks of life.
Yours faithfully,

MALCOLM C. WALKER,

Chairman and Chief Executive,
Group plc,
Avenue,
Deeside Industrial Park,
Deeside, Flintshire.



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