Could this be about to change?
The EU's great GM debate pits two powerful forces against each other: green campaigners concerned about the effect of the crops on health and the environment, and the agri-business lobby, which argues that
Only five EU countries grow GM crops at all --
Hoping to find a way out of the deadlock, EU environment ministers last month approved new rules that would permit individual countries to make their own decisions on GM -- allowing them to use "ethical" or "public order" rationales to ban crops even when scientific advisors have ruled that these strains are safe.
The compromise was the result of a fraught battle, says
Genetic modification technology was not always so controversial in
But Mitchener says the seeds of
"Mad cow disease caused a loss of public confidence in science. You had the British government saying beef was safe, while the EU said the opposite," he says.
"The tragedy of biotech in
Pro-GM scientists argue GM is not inherently more dangerous to either the environment or human health than any other method of crop mutation -- whether through selective breeding or naturally through evolution.
Or, for that matter, by blasting seeds with radiation, as humans have been doing for decades through the process of "mutagenesis", hoping to create mutant seeds with useful properties. More than 2,500 crops have been created in this way, including a premium barley used in Scotch whisky and disease-resistant cocoa in Guinean chocolate.
"In fact, GM is actually safer than most forms of breeding because we know exactly which properties are being implanted -- it's much less random," argues
The writer filed this article for AFP from
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