[QODLink]
Archive
Lively debate on GM foods
An international conference on genetically-modified food held in Kuala Lumpur has witnessed a heated debate over a science that some call monstrous and others promote as an answer to world hunger.
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2004 08:45 GMT
Critics say biotech firms are yet to prove GM food benefits to farmers or consumers
An international conference on genetically-modified food held in Kuala Lumpur has witnessed a heated debate over a science that some call monstrous and others promote as an answer to world hunger.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth has released a 51-page report, charging that 10 years after the first GM food appeared on supermarket shelves, biotech corporations have failed to prove its benefits for farmers or consumers. 

The assessment was released to coincide with the opening of the first Conference of Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a UN accord which came into force last September.

The US has not signed the protocol, which has been ratified by 86 countries and the European Union, but is lobbying hard for the acceptance of GM crops worldwide. 

Tough EU laws

EU nations have infuriated the US by passing tough laws on identifying and labelling food that has GM ingredients - one of the major topics for debate at the conference. 

Britain has already made it clear that London plans to take a firm stand. 

Environment Minister Elliot Morley told AFP before the conference: "The US has to understand there is enormous sensitivity about genetically-modified food. 

"The reality of the last 10 years is that the safety of GM crops cannot be ensured, they are neither cheaper nor higher quality and they are not the magical solution to solve world hunger."

Juan Lopez,
Friends of the Earth spokesman

The US has also to understand we would not give blanket approval (to GM food products). There is no chance of that whatsoever." 

"The bottomline must be consumer choice," said Morley. "We do have a number of GM food ingredients which are approved in the UK and they must be labeled and that will be extended to any GM products." 

The Friends of the Earth report says GM crops have "created novel and alarming environmental problems such as genetic contamination". 

"Contrary to the promises made by the biotech corporations the reality of the last 10 years shows that the safety of GM crops cannot be ensured, that they are neither cheaper nor higher quality and that they are not the magical solution to solve world hunger," said Friends of the Earth spokesman Juan Lopez.

Genetic modification can involve the introduction of genes from one plant to another or switching genes between plants and animals to change the way they develop, usually to protect them from disease or enhance their commercial value.

Source:
AFP
Topics in this article
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
join our mailing list