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Old 06-01-13, 04:45   #1
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Question Celebrities’ Crusade Stops the Poor Being Fed

Celebrities’ GM Crusade Stops Science Feeding the Poor, says Campaigner

Television chefs and other public figures have been blamed for preventing science from feeding the poor by campaigning against genetically modified foods.

Environmental author Mark Lynas Photo: CLARA MOLDEN

Telegraph UK

The environmentalist Mark Lynas said GM crops could help provide more food at a lower price by reducing the need for pesticides and fertilisers.

He said the poorest people of the world could benefit from crops with added nutritional benefits or designed to resist droughts and floods, but such crops were not being developed because people in positions of power said GM was dangerous.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the chef, the gardener Monty Don and the Prince of Wales have all spoken against GM.

“My message to the anti-GM lobby, from the ranks of the British aristocrats and celebrity chefs to the US foodies to the peasant groups of India is this: you are entitled to your views, but you must know by now that they are not supported by science,” said Mr Lynas. “We are coming to a crunch point, and for the sake of both people and the planet, now is the time for you to get out of the way and let the rest of us get on with feeding the world sustainably.”

Mr Lynas, author of The God Species, apologised for previously opposing GM crops. Speaking to the Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Lynas said the argument for GM crops was now “rock solid”.

He said trillions of GM meals had been eaten without any deleterious health effects and that in 2011, an area of land six times the size of Britain was planted with GM crops without harming the environment.
The public must be taught the benefits of GM so an “avalanche” of regulations suffocating the technology and “not based on any rational scientific assessment” were lifted, said Mr Lynas.
“The risk today is not that anyone will be harmed by GM food, but that millions will be harmed by not having enough food, because a vocal minority of people in rich countries want their meals to be what they consider natural,” he said.

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, agreed that policy makers, farmers and scientists should be promoting GM to the public and that more GM crops should be licensed for planting in Europe. The Rothamsted Research Institute in Hertfordshire is planting GM wheat and is planning to plant GM oilseed rape. The Omega 3 oilseed rape could be fed to farmed salmon rather than fish from the oceans, to help prevent over-fishing.

The campaign group GM Freeze claimed that the public has already debated and decided against GM because of the possible long-term threat to the environment and human health. Greenpeace, the Soil Association and Friends of the Earth are also against GM.

Tom MacMillan, director of innovation at the Soil Association, said the world could be fed through techniques such as plant breeding, which does not threaten the environment. He also said cutting over-consumption and waste could help feed deprived people and that results on GM food so far “have been poor”.

Mr MacMillan said figures show pesticide use has increased where GM crops have been grown because “superweeds and resistant insects have multiplied”, so GM enthusiasts “must beware of opening floodgates to real problems like this”.
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