Letter: Fish, farms and food

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The Independent Culture
Letter: Fish, farms and food

Sir: Natasha Walter ("In the fields of conflict", 2 August) fashionably demonises genetic modification by linking it inextricably with Monsanto and other "big business". This association, now firmly implanted in public consciousness, has sadly clouded much of the debate about this new technology.

But "big business" is not the only framework for such research. Around the world, including the developing world, a number of not-for-profit agricultural institutes are endeavouring to improve yields of a wide range of crops, both cash and subsistence. Genetic modification is one approach being tested.

Are Greenpeace going to tear down fields of experimental sorghum in West Africa? Or is it a case of we (first world) don't want it, but you (third world) can make do with it?

Genetic modification offers the prospect of incredible benefits worldwide - regardless of the agency that develops it - to both industrialised agriculture, and developing-world subsistence farming. As with any new technology, tests are needed, and the nature of genetic modification requires that these be especially stringent. We need to advance carefully, but advance we must.

NICK ALLEN

Oxford

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