RE: Guardian live debate on GM
- To: "unlikely.suspects":;
- Subject: RE: Guardian live debate on GM
- From: MichaelP <papadop@PEAK.ORG>
- Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 07:01:29 -0800 (PST)
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Sent to me by John Whiting - thanks
The Guardian GE debate last night in Central Hall, playing to a
packed house, set out, in the words of the Guardian editor, to
"generate more light than heat", but the temperature rose as
inexorably as ever. As an anti-GE rally it was quite
satisfactory, but as a source of information it was
disappointing. I know almost nothing more on the subject than I
have posted on this list, but I didn't pick up a single fact last
night that I didn't already know, and several that I knew
positively to be untrue. If your computer is equipped with Real
Audio, you can access the Guardian web site and listen to all two
hours of it, but don't bother.
As usual, no one asked whether any scientists anywhere, with
agribusiness financing, were working on the enhancing, or even
the preservation, of species variety and flavour. The movers and
shakers are concerned with economics, politics and nutrition (in
that order); but who, except for us self-indulgent elitists,
cares about FOOD?
The [London] Guardian February 26 1999
Risk of escaped GM food genes
GENES from genetically modified foods could evade scientists'
control, "leak out" and infect other organisms, an eminent
genetics professor warned yesterday.
Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College, London,
said evolution was " predictable" and organisms' genetic make up
altered naturally as they developed resistance.
He added: "The genes you put in may actually leak out and get to
places where we can't control them ... Genes can leap in the most
extraordinary and alarming way. There's no reason to say the same
thing cannot happen in genetically modified plants. It only has
to happen once. The dangers are really quite real."
Prof Jones was speaking last night at a Guardian debate - GM
Foods: Where does the truth lie? - at Westminster Central Hall,
Likening the Green movement to Nazism in its reactionary
ignorance and emotiveness, he said he [nevertheless] supported a
moratorium on growing GM crops in Britain.
"I definitely think we need more knowledge before we make the
same mistakes with GM foods that we made with penicillin - and I
most clearly think we should stop doing this until we know more
about it," he said.
Guardian columnist and visiting professor at Green College,
Oxford, George Monbiot, warned there was a major gulf between the
manufacturers' claim for GM foods and what they really intended
to do: rather than increase food production in the next century,
they would be "the hunger merchants of the new millennium. "
He said the aim of genetic engineering was to wrest control of
"the biggest commodity market of all - namely food".
Christopher Leaver, professor of plants science at Oxford
university, claimed GM food was needed in the future for a
burgeoning population - set to rise from its current 5.6 billion
to 8 billion by 2020.
It was also required as a potential source of energy in a world
of unrenewable energy sources, while GM plants, resistant to heat
and drought, would enable those in the Third World to have a
better quality of life.
He also spoke of the scientists working at developing vaccines
and antibodies in GM plants which could be used against diseases
such a cholera.
Rising to hisses of disapproval, Steve Smith, managing director
of Novartis Seeds, a producer of GM maize consumed in this
country, said it was not in his company's interest to make unsafe
products. "Unless we have public confidence, we will not have
products and we will not have a business," he added.
He said his company would still market non-GM foods, would label
products clearly, and welcome regulation. When he claimed GM
plants were sown sufficiently far away to prevent
cross-pollination, he was greeted with cries of "We don't believe
Closing the speeches, Joan Ruddock, MP said: "The truth is no one
knows in the future whether there will be any long-term effects
on human or animal health of eating GM foods."
You can follow the Guardian's food debate on the Guardian network