1.It's crazy to ignore benefits of GM food, says 'Country Life'
2.TIME TO LOVE FRANKENSTEIN - COUNTRY LIFE
3.COUNTRY LIFE - Contact Details
NOTE: The Country Life editorial says that concerns over 'Frankenstein foods' have grown into a fear among the public of 'developments it doesn't understand'. In fact, the evidence shows that public concerns grow with knowledge of GM, and it is those that don't know much if anything about it who are most complacent. The editor of Country Life would seem to fall into that category.
EXTRACTS: Environmental groups derided the editorial, accusing Country Life of pandering to the GM industry without casting a critical eye over scientific evidence.
'The biotech industry tells Africans that we need GM crops to tackle the food needs of our population. But the majority of GM crops are used to feed animals in rich countries, to produce damaging agrofuels, and don't even yield more than conventional crops.' - Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth's food campaigner in Nigeria (item 1)
1.It's crazy to ignore benefits of GM food, says 'Country Life'
By Jerome Taylor
The Independent, 20 March 2008
Country Life magazine has provoked a row with environmentalists by wading into the row over genetically modified foods with a fiery editorial that pours vitriol on those who it accuses of ignoring the benefits such crops may offer.
The publication, which is often seen as representing the finest traditions of the countryside [code for a magazine popular with toffs who love blood sports!], goes as far as to suggest it is 'criminal' and 'immoral' to turn our backs on GM produce.
The editorial says 'future generations will think us crazy, or criminal, not to embrace [GM technology]' and argues that concerns over 'Frankenstein foods' have grown into a fear among the public of 'developments it doesn't understand'.
The article, written by the editor, Mark Hedges, marks the first time the magazine has taken a strong editorial stance on the GM debate. It argues that GM technology could help alleviate the type of problems caused by the recent rise in food prices as well as providing plants that are able to withstand the effects of climate change.
'Places where deeper boreholes have sucked the land dry will need drought-resistant crops, if they're to grow any crops at all,' the editorial suggests. 'Where too much water has been abstracted from aquifers, allowing seawater to seep in, there will be a demand for saline-tolerant plants.'
It adds: 'The population of the world is expected to grow from 6.7 billion to 9 billion. We shall need different kinds of plants – more productive, multi-tasking – and need them quickly.'
The editorial also attacks the green lobby for leading opposition to GM technology and claims that modified crops which rely less on fertiliser products could in fact help reduce carbon emissions from farming.
Environmental groups derided the editorial, accusing Country Life of pandering to the GM industry without casting a critical eye over scientific evidence.
Clare Oxborrow, a food campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: 'It's quite astonishing that Country Life has fallen for the GM industry's PR machine. The idea that drought and salt-resistant crops could be just round the corner is pie-in-the-sky speculation. GM companies have been claiming these sorts of fix-all solutions for the past 10 years but they've never got any closer to achieving any of their promises.'
Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth's food campaigner in Nigeria, said he had seen little evidence to show that GM crops could help feed poorer countries. 'The biotech industry tells Africans that we need GM crops to tackle the food needs of our population. But the majority of GM crops are used to feed animals in rich countries, to produce damaging agrofuels, and don't even yield more than conventional crops.'
Mr Hedges defended the article saying Britain could no longer ignore the possible benefits that GM technology could offer. 'I just take the view that British society has been incredibly cavalier in dismissing GM crops,' he said. 'For Country Life to come out and say this will initially, I think, be slightly unexpected but I hope that through the article people will finally start to take notice of the issue and begin debating it again rather than just ignoring it all together.'
Worldwide, GM crops are grown by at least six million farmers in 16 countries, but the UK has no commercial production. According to the National Farmers Union, only one GM product, a blight-resistant potato, is being trialled in Britain, in Cambridge.
2.TIME TO LOVE FRANKENSTEIN
COUNTRY LIFE, MARCH 20 2008
'GM technology has the power to alleviate some of the dangers.
Future generations will think us crazy not to embrace it'
THE phrase ‘Frankenstein foods’ has been one of the most successful coinages of modern journalism. The theme of a Daily Mail campaign, it sums up the public’s instinctive fear of develop-ments it doesn’t understand, and which at one point seemed about to be foisted on them by uncaring multi-national companies. The biotec food giant Monsanto was cast as the mad scientist, and, it has to be said, didn’t make matters easier for itself by the arrogance with which it treated the consumer. Greenpeace ought to have been more roundly condemned for destroying test sites. The Blair Government, having appeared to champion genetically modified (GM) technology at the outset, quickly recognised the tide of opinion was against it, and sat on its hands. The NFU tells us that only one GM product is being trialled at the moment: a blight-resistant potato in Cambridge.
Does anyone now believe this state of affairs can continue? The sudden rise in the price of food must surely focus minds on how the world’s population can be fed in the future. Previously fertile areas will become desert, or disappear under the sea. At the same time, the remaining farmland will be expected to grow a greater range of crops. In just two centuries, mankind has managed to deplete the planet of reserves that took Nature hun-dreds of millions of years to lay down. We shall look to plants to produce not only fuel, but replacements for the plastics, fibres and pharmaceuticals that are at present also derived from oil. Meanwhile, the population of the world is expected to grow from the present 6.7 billion to nine billion. We shall need different kinds of plants—more productive, multi-tasking -and need them quickly.
Genetic modification is a means of speeding up the process of selective breeding that’s been practised for millennia. In a hungry world, the refusal of a rich and well-fed country such as Britain to exploit its agriculture to the full could soon be regarded as immoral. Elsewhere on the planet, pressure to adopt GM technology will become irresistible. Places where deeper and deeper boreholes have sucked the land dry will need drought-resistant crops, if they’re to grow any crops at all. Where too much water has been abstracted from aquifers, allowing seawater to seep in, there will be a demand for saline-tolerant plants. As GM crops are more widely adopted around the globe, British farmers will not be able to compete without them. Once, the public might have turned a deaf ear to agriculture, while continuing to gobble up its products. Attitudes will change quickly when food becomes not merely dearer, but scarcer.
Unfortunately, the appetite for GM in other countries is so great that agribusinesses aren’t putting money into researching products suitable for Britain, when the regulatory climate and threat of direct action are against them.
Opposition to GMOs is led by the Green lobby—the self-same people who are most exercised by the need to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.
Paradoxically, an argument for GM crops is precisely that they will help farming reduce its carbon footprint. Roots that fix a greater proportion of nitrogen from the soil will require less fertiliser made using fossil fuels. We want to discourage farmers from ploughing the land because that releases carbon; it’s possible to imagine the development of a perennial wheat that makes ploughing unnecessary.
This Easter weekend, we shall celebrate the rebirth and resurrection that is symbolised by spring. It provides a moment, perhaps, to contemplate the long-term future of the world, which looks far from bright. Wars could break out over water. Flooding and desertification could cause huge movements of people, on a par with those experienced during the Dark Ages. We’re running short of oil; before long, we may find ourselves running short of metals, too. Our children and grandchildren will be hard pressed to meet the enormous challenges that face them. But GM technology has the potential to alleviate some of the dangers. Future generations will think us crazy, or criminal, not to embrace it.
3.COUNTRY LIFE - Contact Details
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