Chris Megone philosophy
Dr Megone is a specialist in medical and
impression was that in addition to the substantive
claims made above the overriding response
to the Government's commission was that the
public wanted more information about GM food
and felt insufficiently informed to give a
reasoned response to the inquiry. I think
that this is a correct public perception.
This is a difficult area. Whilst there will
be risks atached to any new technology, I
suspect that most lay people like myself no
little about any of the risks, that they vary
considerably from one crop to another, and
that a sensible discussion requires a reasonable
model for the ethical assessment of risk.
Notoriously public assessment of risk is very
unreliable (eg public attitudes to road and
rail safety). The way in which risk information
is presented is crucial, and people do not
react in comparable ways to comparable risks.
Taking the specific claims above, as I understand
it there is no evidence that eating GM food
has ever been harmful. On the other hand the
growing of GM crops may well pose wider threats
to the environment. So my overall view is
that the public (including myself) is probably
not sufficiently informed to be able to take
a clear view on these matters, that caution
is a reasonable attitude, but that different
aspects of GM crops/foods probably merit different
GM certainly shouldnt be ruled out completely,
but there needs to be more informed public
debate and a willingness to embrace if risks
seem reasonable. However, this requires a
full and careful airing of risks and benefits.
The Government should set up a royal commission
or the like to advise parliament more fully,
but at the same time make moves to stimulate
further public debate through, for example,
more inter-disciplinary discussion in universities.