GM: Contemptible or Inevitable?

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Abstract:

A meeting was held for around 100 invited guests at the US Embassy, London at the beginning of March. It was hosted by the USDA and organised by Footprint Media Group, a group with interests across the food chain (www.footprnt.com). The objective of the meeting was to review and update interested parties in the UK and EU food industries on the status of GM cropping and food products outside the EU. The private session was followed later that day with public presentations in London. There were two presentations. Firstly, Jack Bobo (Senior Adviser for Biotechnology in the US Bureau of Economics and Business Affairs) who works on trade policy, food security, climate change and development issues related to agricultural science and technology gave an overview on GM cropping and issues arising. There are now 28 countries growing GM crops on 67 million hectares. The USA represents around 41% (27 million ha) of this area. Outside this group of countries the remaining agricultural economies, lead by the EU, remain unconvinced of the benefits of GM agriculture for their cropping and their environments. The presentations were followed by a Q&A session with a panel of experts from various interested parties in the UK – the Food Standards Agency, Agricultural Industries Confederation, Leatherhead Research, NFU and Westbury Street Holdings (WSH) from the supply chain. The audience showed great interest in the presentations and asked questions covering all aspects of food production. However, it is now over a decade since the debate over whether the UK should grow GM crops and nothing seems to have changed. However, the UK government is fervently supportive of GM technology, the retailers are taking steps behind the scenes to unpick their stance of over a decade ago, and mainstream media have been largely positive of late. The debate has moved on from 'for' and 'anti' to “let's deal with this”. Although GM crops are not top of people's minds there are concerns that the debate will reignite as new varieties and crops receive EU approval and can thus be grown.

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1564/v24_apr_11

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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