- Two American experts have refuelled the controversy over
genetically modified (GM) crops by saying no one can be certain of the
risks or benefits.
- The scientists, from the US Environmental Protection
Agency, said that genetic engineering and selective breeding may not have
the same long-term effects.
- "As more economically useful and health-related
genes are identified and isolated, it appears that the variety of genetically
engineered organisms will increase dramatically. This increase may collectively
represent an environmental risk," wrote LaReesa Wolfenbarger and P
R Phifer, in the journal Science.
- Environmental campaigners have seized on the paper as
evidence that GM research is moving too fast. Pete Riley, food campaigner
of Friends of the Earth, said: "This review hits the nail very firmly
on the head and backs up what we have been saying for many years.
- "The alleged benefits of GM crops are not based
on independent studies and there is hardly any research on the long-term
- "Why has the biotech industry been allowed to grow
commercial crops when the scientific case is so feeble? The biotech industry
is using us as guinea pigs and the environment as an open-air lab."
- The Environmental Protection Agency is now involved in
a dispute with the US Department of Agriculture, which has allowed the
commercial planting of thousands of acres of GM crops such as soya and
- No GM crops have been approved for commercial planting
in Britain, pending the results of "field trials" to assess the
impact. There is now growing consumer pressure in America for labelling
to beapplied to GM-derived food, as it is in Europe.
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