17 February 1998
GeneWatch demands GM crops moratorium

ENVIRONMENTAL watchdog GeneWatch has called on European Governments to agree on a complete moratorium on genetically modified crops until the public is satisfied with their safety.

Sue Mayer, director of the research and analytical body into the ethics and risks of genetic technologies, writes in the Financial Times that conditions for dialogue should be established while a moratorium is in place.

“If this opportunity is missed, the risks for all concerned are enormous,” she says.

Mayer claims the biotechnology industry should have predicted public resistance to genetically engineered food and that the problems it now faces are entirely of its own making.

The companies have either failed to recognise the extent and nature of public unease, or have dismissed it as based on ignorance, she says.

But she goes on that the industry has consistently resisted attempts to reconsider or even segregate genetically modified crops from conventional varieties. Labelling requirements have been squeezed so that the very minimum is covered.

She says the public has learnt that the extent to which developments prove dangerous in the long term is influenced by profit and our inability to control risks. BSE has taught the public the hard lessons of scientific uncertainly and its interpretation in policy

  • Financial Times 17/02/98 page 16 (Viewpoint)