Letter: GM testing time
Tuesday 23 February 1999
Sir: Thank you to Anne McElvoy for her insight-rich article "The Government must listen to our fears about GM food" (17 February). I have many reservations about GM foods, and these are certainly not due to my "peasant suspicion of technology": I have a degree in biology and considerable laboratory experience and have read text-books on GM techniques and scientific papers on the subject, every one of which has set loud alarm bells ringing in my ears.
What we need is considerably more than "to tighten testing and licensing procedures along the same lines as those applied to new drugs on the market". Drugs are easy to test. They are specific, pure chemicals whose dosage can be precisely controlled. Foods are infinitely complex. Possible harmful nutritional effects from eating genetically distorted plants may only be evident in the long term or even in our children or grandchildren. It will, realistically, take 50 years to fully test them for safety.
We don't need them and would do well to divert our precious resources and creativity to developing the many and diverse safe foods we already have.
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