Letter: Genetic bullies

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Successive British governments have allowed themselves to be browbeaten by a Washington in the pocket of American agribusiness and to plonk themselves between me and my grocer: "Eat genetically modified soya, or else!"

Charles Arthur (Comment, 16 February) wishes the scientists could get into a debate currently dominated by journalists, politicians and big business, who give me assurances in plenty but few facts. So do I. That is one reason why a restriction of the ubiquitous GM soya and a moratorium on further releases is essential - it would give me a chance to catch up and catch on.

Delaying would also give us all time to assess what the longer-term fall- out might be. In this small island we have a dangerously restricted (and dwindling) natural heritage of plants and wildlife. I'd not like to see what is left wiped out by superplants or herbicides in favour of horizon- to-horizon monocultures where "no birds sing". Don't think it couldn't happen. I am just back from Costa Rica, where I saw the future as the US fruit companies would have wanted it to be.

MICHAEL ATKINSON

Ilkley, West Yorkshire

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