Professor Meyer works in the centre for
of the findings of the public debate on GM
if you can call it public
was that the more people know about
GM, the more they oppose it. This hasnt
been our experience with students, as generally
when students understand the detail around
GM crops, they cant understand why theres
so much fuss about them.
no proof that GM poses any danger to health.
The fact that GM is seen as being a monopoly
by big business is another issue: lots of
the opposition to GM is actually about opposition
to this. But the anti-GM lobby knew they couldnt
successfully oppose GM on this basis, so theyve
made the debate one about dangerous
science, which plays on public fears to gain
The public has no problem with GM in medicine
there they see the benefits. But they
dont see the benefits in food. They
already get the food they need in the supermarket,
so what will GM bring them?
The way to look at the issue is to see it
as a novel technology that Europe
needs in order to compete. In the US, GM is
seen as providing better quality food with
less chemical input. The chemical options
are running out. But that issue doesnt
seem to have got the coverage in Europe
that area of the debate hasnt filtered
Its also a big issue for Asia, especially
China. There a major problem is not only feeding
their population, but also the pollution caused
by growing such huge quantities of food. Too
many chemicals are polluting their water supply
already. This new technology could do away
with the old chemical usage.
Were complacent in Europe. We subsidise
agriculture and produce a surplus, so dont
see a need for GM technology. The US views
it differently: they export their excess and
use it as a tool for them to do politics
with other countries. The EU doesnt
use food in this way.
UK government have seen the potential advantages
in GM and the risk of not being involved
if we miss the boat, the US and Asia will
take the advantage. We are under a GM moritorium,
while others are progressing.
We need to move the debate away from simply
pro or anti GM. GM technology is like any
other technology, like computers for example.
Nobody would consider being for or against
computers per se, but you could oppose using
computers in certain situations. We need to
be discussing individual uses of the technology,
not banning it outright.
The main problems with GM is that there is
no obvious benefit to the consumer and we
are stuck within a polarised simplistic debate.
On one hand you have the anti-GM lobby saying
everything about GM is bad, and on the other
the biotechnology companies saying everything
about GM is brilliant. The truth lies somewhere
in the middle.
There are good things which GM can provide:
extra nutritional value, better quality of
food, and less chemicals. The technology has
many useful applications. Once thats
accepted, its clear we need to look
at each case individually.
Im not sure about what the future holds
except that Im sure GM is an important
technology, that will be used by others, in
ways we probably dont even know yet.
If we just reject GM per se, then no one will
bother to listen to us on the issue, well
be unable to contribute to the wider debate
about its pros and cons.
As to the long-term future of GM in the UK
if things go on as they are, it has