Letter: GM common sense

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In your editorial of 5 June you state that common sense dictates that organic food is better than intensively farmed equivalents. Only lack of knowledge of what organic farmers do can give that conclusion.

Organic farmers spray their crops with detergents (the stuff that froths up rivers), pyrethrum (fly-killer to you and me) and live bacteria, and add a couple of inorganic minerals to their soil.

Aside from the indiscriminate effects of insecticide spraying (a charge the green lobby constantly make against intensive farming), would you spray your dinner with fly-killer and live bacteria before eating it? The live bacteria (B. thurigiensis) are not routinely, if ever, tested for antibiotic resistance.

The ordinary person ingests about 1.5 gm of carcinogens per day, an amount too low to affect most of us. Of these, 99.99 per cent are natural carcinogens produced by all plants to defend themselves against invasive bacteria and fungi and their amount will increase in food such as organic products which are not treated with fungicides. Industrial and organic farming add about 0.01 per cent to the total carcinogen ingested, a residue 10,000 times lower than determined safe doses.

GM crops would eliminate most of this 0.01 per cent, leaving organic food as the more highly contaminated. No wonder the organic farming lobby are up in arms about GM food!


Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology

University of Edinburgh