Tuesday, March 09, 2004

In a change of tack, the British Medical Association has said today that there is "very little potential" for Genetically Modified food to produce harmful health effects and has called for an end to "the hysteria" it says often surrounds the GM debate.

That's it, then -- doctors say GM food is safe and opposition to GM crops is just Flat Earth-ism, right?

Not quite.

The GM debate is as much about economics as it is about health.

The food and seed industry, worth around $2000 billion a year, represents a huge source of profits for corporate interests.

Patenting the world's food supply by genetically modifying seeds so that they cannot be saved by farmers and must be bought anew each year means a handful of companies -- principally Du Pont, Pharmacia (Monsanto), Syngenta, and Advanta -- will tighten their hold on the worldwide food chain, making farmers in developing countries increasingly dependent on foreign firms.

As one rice farmer in the Philippines puts it: "‘If seeds are patented, it’s like cutting off a farmer’s arm since you are removing the farmer’s freedom to choose seeds and preserve them.’" (Source: New Internationalist)

(Genetic Resources Action International, ActionAid and Genewatch have much more on this.)


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