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Morally right to grow GM food report

27 May 1999
‘Morally right’ to grow GM food — report

THERE is a compelling moral imperative to accept genetically modified crops to help combat world hunger and poverty, leading scientists, theologians and philosophers said today …more…


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Morally right to grow GM food report

27 May 1999
‘Morally right’ to grow GM food — report

By Vicky Houchin

THERE is a compelling moral imperative to accept genetically modified (GM) crops to help combat world hunger and poverty, leading scientists, theologians and philosophers said today (Thursday).

A report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has said that genetic modification is not morally objectionable.

The report says that developing countries could be helped by GM food.

It conflicts with a report by the international charity Christian Aid, which said GM crops were not necessary to end world hunger.

Growing vitamin A-enriched rice or drought-resistant crops could make a vital impact in combating hunger and malnutrition

This is because GM crops might produce more food, or more employment income with which to obtain food, for those who need it most urgently.

“More food for the hungry, unlike tomatoes with a longer shelf-life, is a strong ethical counterweight to set against the concerns of the opponents of GM crops,” says the report.

It goes on to say there are no grounds for a ban on GM food or on commercial plantings in this country. But a wider assessment is needed of the possible impact on the environment.

“All GM food so far on the market in this country is safe for human consumption,” it says.

The report concludes that there is no evidence to suggest GM foods harmful to human health. “GM is in most respects an extension and refinement of what has been happening for 10,000 years,”

Professor Alan Ryan, chairman of the working party, said that it did not think that GM technology violated nature in ways that other modern plant-breeding methods do not.

“But we recognise that many people do believe it is unnatural, and we do believe that anyone who does believe that GM food is unnatural and immoral should be able to avoid it.”

Earlier this month, Christian Aid attacked in a report claims made from biotechnology firms that GM crops will solve world food shortages.

The report said that one of the most worrying characteristics of GM seed production was “terminator technology” which renders the crop infertile.

That means farmers cannot collect seed for the following years crop and yet 80% of crops currently planted in developing countries are from farm-saved seed.

  • Christian Aid says GM crops wont feed the world, Farmers Weekly, 14 May, 1999

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