Spinning the science
Friday February 20, 2004
The Five Year Freeze was launched in February 1999 to give a platform to groups concerned at how little was known about the impacts of agricultural biotechnology (GM crops to get go-ahead, February 19). Five years on, many of the questions we wanted to be addressed in the period of a moratorium remain unanswered. How will the public's right to choose to eat GM-free food be maintained? Who will pay for damage, both economic or environmental, that may occur? What will the real repercussions of a global GM trade be for small farmers both here and in developing countries?
We remain deeply concerned that the serious issue of hunger in developing countries is constantly used as an excuse to commercialise GM crops in Europe, while so many commentators acknowledge that GM crops cannot "feed the world".
We remain sceptical about the use of GM crops as long as the supposed benefits fail to outweigh the tangible risks. It is foolhardy for the government to ignore public concerns and proceed on the strength of decisions based on flawed evidence, then expect to win over the public through spin and presentation.
Five Year Freeze campaign
The leaked papers make it clear the government is still swallowing the PR of the GM lobby that theirs is the only unbiased and relevant science. The PR is all about science and, more and more implausibly, feeding the world. The reality includes the pushing of large volumes of their expensive pesticides and herbicides. What about the sciences concerned with river and sea pollution, of sustainable agriculture, of biodiversity and ecology?
Why so coy on the GM maize results (Why GM-free UK is popular but unfeasible, February 19), which showed a slight advantage to the
environment of GM? Perhaps because Atrazine, the herbicide used on the conventional maize, is so toxic it is soon to banned. The science is fundamentally flawed. The scientific trial is not comparing like with like. There is no solid scientific argument in favour of GM maize.
Atrazine disrupts hormones, gets into rivers and aquifers. GM Liberty maize allowed US farmers to stop using atrazine. But weeds developed resistance to the Liberty herbicide and GM Liberty Atz is now used - maize with atrazine in every cell.
It is disingenuous to argue that GM technology is being promoted to support developing countries. Not long ago, consumer leaders from 20 African countries issued the Lusaka declaration, which clearly rejects GM technology as a solution for food security in Africa. What is it about the word "no" that this government doesn't understand?
Caroline Lucas MEP
Green, SE England
We went to war in Iraq because a government listened to the experts. Foot and mouth devastated the countryside because they listened to the experts. The school system is in chaos because they listen to experts. Experts told us BSE couldn't jump species. Experts tell us GM crops are safe. Feeling confident?
The leaked paper claims: "Opposition might eventually be worn down by solid, authoritative scientific argument." Wasn't there a similar line in the Iraqi dossier? It's not the nuclear button we need to worry about - it's the cut and paste key.