Letter: Food safety and genetic manipulation

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Sir: Full credit to the diversity of views shown in your Weekend section (16 October). In 'Do we have to eat our genes?' Joanna Blythman writes: 'Advocates argue . . . these foods are a non-threatening extension of traditional animal and plant breeding and fermentation methods which have existed for thousands of years. But this new approach moves genetic material from one living organism to another, irrespective of species barriers.'

Contradicting this view (indeed, I would say correcting it) in the same edition, your gardening correspondent, Anna Pavord, writes under 'Unhealthy attitudes', discussing resistance to black spot disease: 'Only the oriental R. bracteata, 'the Macartney Rose', introduced from China in 1793, seems to have anything like immunity to the disease . . . The villain of the piece is Rosa foetida, a bright yellow species native to the Middle East . . . their genes survive in many modern hybrid tea roses.'

As Mao Tse-Tung said (but never meant), let a thousand flowers bloom.

Yours faithfully,

ROGER J. G. MACY

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

17 October

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