MP argues against GMO future

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are not the answer to ensuring a sustainable future food supply, a former environment minister told delegates at the ProTerra conference in London on 24 April.

The conference, organised by the ProTerra Foundation and attended by industry representatives, government, scientists and agricultural experts, assessed the sustainability of imported soy for animal feed, looking at the supply and demand of soy between South America and Europe and the implications of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

In his keynote speech, Michael Meacher MP, former environment minister under Tony Blair, discussed the trials and evidence behind GMO. He told delegates that GM soy was not the only way to feed the growing world and argued that GM was unsafe and its capacity to feed the world marginal, describing it as a "risky and unpredictable technology", which could cross species boundaries and destabilise the biochemistry of the plant.

"People don't want the food supply forcibly genetically-modified by having non-GM wiped out by GM contamination," he said, adding that consumers should be able to choose, but that, at present, EU labelling rules meant people were unable to tell if a product was GM-free or not.

Meacher said there had not been an adequate or systematic study on the environmental impact of GMO. He also argued that the trump cards played by pro-GM producers that GM is more efficient and focused a technology and that as the world population rises, GM is needed to feed the world were inaccurate, describing its capacity to feed the world as "marginal".

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