A GROUP of independent scientists, together with politicians and farm leaders have called on the European commission to abandon its drive for GM crops and redirect its energies to non-GM sustainable agriculture.

Briefing MEPs in Brussels this week (w/e Oct 22), Dr Mae-Wan Ho, director of the Institute of Science in Society, said the tide of scientific evidence was turning against GM technology.

“When genetic engineering started in the mid 1970s, scientists thought the genome was static and genes determined the characteristics of organisms in linear causal chains,” he told the MEPs.

“But it turns out that the genome is constantly in conversation with the environment and changing both the expression and structure of genes.

“It is this ‘fluid genome‘ that unsettles genetic modification, and creates the dangers of uncontrollable gene transfer and recombination.”

GM was a scientific and financial dead-end and should be abandoned, Dr Ho claimed.

But this was not happening, radical French farm leader Jose Bove told the seminar, because public research had been taken over by the bio-tech companies.

“Many academic scientists are no longer doing research that benefits the public,” he claimed.

The seminar then heard from Sue Edwards, director of the Institute of Sustainable Development in Ethiopia.

She has helped introduce the traditional Indian pit-composting method to the northern state of Tigray, which has more than doubled crop yields, outperforming chemical fertilizers.

As a result, the Ethiopian government is adopting organic agriculture as one of its strategies for food security, she said.

“Working with nature is the best way to produce healthy environments that give people healthy and fulfilling lives; and at the same time to protect and increase biodiversity,” Ms Edwards told the meeting.

The seminar was organized by GM-Free Cymru and the Independent Science Panel, a group of 26 scientists who used the seminar to re-launch their report The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World. (www.indsp.org)