Dec 27 2007

GMO corn in Europe?

Yesterday’s New York Times carried an excellent article about the fuss in Europe over genetically modified (GM) corn. Europe has managed to stave off the introduction of GM crops but is under huge pressure to accept them from the World Trade Organization and the U.S. The argument: Because GM crops are safe for people and the environment (a scientific issue), trade rules must apply. But, as the article quotes Benedikt Haerlin of Save Our Seeds, “Science is being utterly abused by all sides for nonscientific purposes…It would be helpful if all sides could be frank about their social, political, and economic agendas.” This precise point is the theme of my book Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism (UC Press, 2004), which despite its title is about the politics of food safety and biotechnology. Its conclusion: even if GM foods are safe, they are not necessarily acceptable.

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  • Michael, Ireland

    I visited the US recently and I must admit I was very wary about what I ate. Nobody wants GM food here in Europe – no matter what their politics. Transnationals seem to have removed the US consumer’s right to choose to reject GM foods – even if they are safe human consumption and the environment. Our politicians are just about as greedy as those in the US but so I imagine we will see GM crops over here. Hopefully though we will see them adequately labelled when they enter the food chain. The British and the Irish seem to care little about what they eat (hence the popularity of the ready-meal) but I cannot see the French, Italians, Spaniards or Greeks letting a GM crop across their lips.

  • Colette

    Very amusing comment about GMO foods. I suggest a little more research into what GMO foods actually are. Also, what does “acceptable” mean exactly? Not morally or ethically acceptable? Frankly, I think most of the negative, scared, non-scientific comments come from Luddite, limosine liberals who enjoy the luxury of shopping in such places as Whole Foods — incredibly expensive if you are feeding a large family.

    Personally, I avoid transfats, focus on fresh produce, and enjoy the gut restorative protein found in an occasional steak. Eire — get off your high horse!