Leading article: We need an honest debate on GM

Share
Related Topics

The news – which The Independent discloses today – that supermarkets fear they may run out of food free of genetic modification – is certain to alarm sections of the environmentalist movement. Opponents of GM food will suspect that the Government and the supermarket chains are teaming up to overturn the latter's decade-long ban on the sale of GM foods by claiming the ban has now become unsustainable.

It is no secret that some supermarket bosses want to see the ban ended and believe they caved in on the use of GM foods too quickly in response to public opposition. But the claims being advanced by the big grocers cannot be shrugged aside, above all their insistence that as sourcing GM-free foods becomes more difficult, the price of such foods has risen already by about 20 per cent.

One of the big problems over GM crops is that the debate, such as it is, has become more like trench warfare. Each side blasts the public with a barrage of fears, hopes and opinions dressed up as hard facts. Each side also appears to believe it has a monopoly on virtue as well as knowledge. The Government, meanwhile, seems to favour greater use of GM food, but only discretely and through smoke signals. It has yet to make its views plain.

This is not the way forward. If the ban on GM foods is becoming difficult to uphold, it is imperative that the country is not bounced into accepting a fait accompli. People must have a chance to listen to, and join, a more open discussion in which hear the pros and cons of GM crops are debated by impartial experts that are not obviously tied to a particular outcome. This is clearly not the case with either of the two main sources of public information, the GM seed companies and the environmental campaigners.

Only when the evidence has been put under the spotlight can we hope to reach a consensus of whether concerns for health and potential damage to the environment should automatically outweigh hopes that the wider use of GM crops could help solve the world food crisis. As the world's population climbs, the need for a more rational, and conclusive, debate than we have had so far becomes ever more pressing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cabinet Maker / Joiner

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic and Motion Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Day In a Page

Read Next
People struggle to board a train at the railway station in Budapest  

Even when refugees do make it to British soil, they are treated appallingly

Maya Goodfellow
 

Daily catch-up: immigration past and present, in Europe and in America

John Rentoul
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones