23 September 2003
By Farmers Weekly staff
THE world's poor and hungry are the big losers in the transatlantic power play over GM foods, claims a report from the independent Food Ethics Council published on Tuesday (23 September).
The report rubbishes arguments that GM foods are a moral crusade to feed the poor.
"The US government is playing the hunger card to breach EU opposition to GM crops," said Dr Tom MacMillan, the council's executive director.
The new report argues that the EU should maintain a moratorium on GM crops until regulation is reformed to take public concerns more seriously.
The council questions why resources are invested in GM crops in the name of solving the global hunger problem while existing approaches that might work better are left to languish.
One reason, the report suggests, is that GM crops can be patented, which makes money for firms and public bodies.
The report, Engineering nutrition: GM crops for global justice?, rejects claims that spending more public money on GM research is in the interest of the world's poor.
It argues that future food security research should be driven by the needs of farmers and consumers rather than only those of international business and science.
"Farmers and consumers are locked out of key spending decisions, then locked into the course of action chosen in their absence - they're offered GM crops in ways they can't refuse," Dr MacMillan said.
Helen Browning, who chairs the Food Ethics Council, says it is time governments were honest.
"GM crops have made food security a big issues for US and EU policy-makers, but for the wrong reasons," she said. "If our governments are sincere, they must tackle the unfair subsidies and trade rules that really make people poor and hunger."
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