Andy Dougill - environment
failings of Government funded science, notably
on BSE and foot and mouth, imply that such
public scepticism on a food safety issue is
inevitable and could be argued as right
in that it adopts a precautionary approach.
This holds despite the fact that most people
have limited knowledge of scientific and health
debates, and will only have seen poor popular
portrayals of the issue around misleading
images such as Frankenstein foods.
The GM Nation? debate found that as
people engage more with the GM debate, the
more intense their concerns become. Consequently,
it seems very unlikely that any Government
led awareness initiative could reduce public
scepticism and hostility. Given this and the
limited economic need or benefits for GM crops
to meet consumer needs in the UK, the Government
needs to respond to the public debate it has
initiated by acting to prevent the commercial
growth of GM crops in the UK.
As the economic benefits to crop production
in the UK appear limited to a very narrow
range of crops, and the environmental consequences
remain uncertain, I see no long-term commercial
future for GM crops in the UK. Given the public
hostility to their use, I see a scenario of
no commercial GM crop growth as very likely,
despite counter arguments that biotechnology
companies put forward.
The key point should be that GM crops are
not required to meet consumer needs (let alone
wants) in the UK.
The Government should listen to the public
and prevent the commercialisation of GM crop
growth. To do otherwise, would be to ignore
societies view and negate the value of future
public attitudes surveys.