29 August 1997

Mistakes over GMOs

MISTAKES made by government in the handling of the BSE crisis are being repeated in the introduction of genetically modified organisms, claims a report issued by environment group Greenpeace.

Like the effects of BSE, genetic modification has the potential to cause serious harm which is unpredictable, irreversible and unmanageable, says the report. Problem genes which outcross with wild plants, for example, might never be controllable.

Genetic modification is a new technology with unresolved ethical, scientific and political uncertainties, it says. And this scenario "demands a risk culture which does not replicate previous mistakes".

But shortcomings of risk assessment practices could have serious social, political and environmental consequences, the report warns. &#42