Letter: Seeds of peril in genetically altered food

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Sir: The Liberal Democrats are keen to embrace new and appropriate technology ("Nothing to fear from techno-corn", 11 December). However, we take issue with the assertion that "if a technology turns out to be a loser, we are also capable of rejecting it." When manipulating genetic structures it is not always possible to turn back the clock. This requires that we have stringent regulation in place.

Public unease can only increase when faced with the apparent ability of multinational food and chemical companies to foreclose the options even before governments and their regulatory authorities are aware of the possible long-term implications. This is a classic case of the public watchdogs noticing the empty stable only once the horse has long since bolted.

Furthermore, without separate supply mechanisms by which the genetically modified product is distinguishable, how is it possible to trace the source of any potential problem? Such a system also makes comprehensive labelling a more viable option. Linked to this is the need for investment in research and monitoring of the long-term effects of genetically manipulated organisms.

On an issue as fundamental as the food we eat, the consumer deserves a cautious and considered approach - not one driven by commercial interests alone.

MATTHEW TAYLOR MP

(Truro, Lib Dem)

Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson

PAUL TYLER MP

(North Cornwall, Lib Dem)

Liberal Democrat Agriculture and Rural Affairs Spokesperson

House of Commons

London SW1

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