Letter: Farm antibiotics the real danger

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Sir: In your leading article on food scares (4 December), you say that genetic engineering of food "should be no more controversial than any other form of scientific research".

Genetic engineering does not have the precision which its name implies. It is not possible to predict the full biochemical consequences of the interactions of a gene from a completely unrelated organism within its new plant host.

Scientists in the biotech industry appear to be ignoring fundamental principles of molecular genetics and the limitations of the technology as they try to meet technical and commercial objectives. In a like frame of mind the Government is assuming safety unless (or until) there is evidence to the contrary, instead of taking the view that something is potentially dangerous unless proved to be safe.

Current voluntary guidelines only require testing for known toxins, ignoring the possibility of the creation of new unexpected substances.At the very least, consumers should be entitled to make an informed judgement and to exercise choice. This necessitates full disclosure labelling.

P H WHILE

Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

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