Letter: GM testing time

Sir: Discussions about the safety of cloning and of GM food always sound like two blind people arguing whether it is safe to cross the road. One of them is saying, "There is no evidence that there is any traffic, and there is a big reward on the other side". The other replies, "There may be traffic coming, and the only way to know is to step out and see if we get hit - I'm staying here". The first responds, "I'm prepared to take the risk, and if I go, we both go."

GM food safety is not just about whether rats feel a bit under the weather - it is about terminator seeds empowering commercial interests (even against governments), about unforeseeable and irreversible ecological consequences. It is also about removing man's need to understand nature and inserting an utter dependence on products and patents.

So I would say this to the impartial scientist: "For God's sake, have a point of view. This could be the very death of impartial scientific research."

To the confused politician: "Commercial genetic engineering could be the greatest threat to the nation state since the atom bomb. You'd better be prepared to fight that corner if you want my vote."

KUNO van der POST

Oxford

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