Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Spectres at the GM feast.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Spectres at the GM feast.

Those blight-resistent potatoes growing quietly in an experimental agricultural plot outside Cambridge, those fields of golden corn fulfilling their genetically manipuated destiny of higher yield and disease resistance, those countries allowing policy change under the radar - you have been rumbled. HRH Prince Charles has thrown the spotlight back on Genetically Manipulated Food Crops with an impassioned, angry tirade of concern. But is he over-reacting?

On the plus side, food security is indeed the more important underlying factor, and there is little argument that creating an environment where small farmers can flourish around the world is crucial to global food security. On the other, in a land-constrained world, what is wrong with helping the evolutionary process along in food crops? According to many small and family farms, the problem lies not with the technology or its application, rather in the behaviour of the profit-driven large companies who insist that (going beyond return on investment) anyone seeking their GM seeds is required to use all their support services. Seeds cannot be saved either, so the customer is forced into repeat purchase.

Oh, I see. The real problem lies in the competetive behaviour that drives our global corporate economy. Well, as consumers we have shown that we can make Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility a competitive advantage for financial investors. So we can, if we combine efforts, insert the CESR gene into some of the biggest agri-tech brands and engineer a longer future for (our) life on earth.

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