Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The people have no bread? Let them eat GMOs.

The Environment Minister Hilary Benn is reported as saying that genetically modified organisms will be necessary to avoid food shortages. In fact this is a typical bit of reporter-distorter, since what he actually said was , "If GM can make a contribution then we have a choice as a society and as a world about whether to make use of that technology, and an increasing number of countries are growing GM products".

So can GM increase food production? We need to look at the evidence. There is a useful, measured letter here which casts doubt on the ability of GMOs to increase overall food production.
Dr. Charles Benbrook's study found that Roundup Ready soya had less yield.

One study is not enough, and we need truthful and accurate surveys of a field that is much larger than one blog or one news report can meaningfully cover.

Overall, though in the context of global food production, the contribution of GM will be negligible, since most farmers will be using their own seed, because they have no money to buy the commercial GM product. The key points about meeting the nutritional needs of the earth is that we need to use less meat, and less burnt-air, high energy demand, nitrate fertiliser, which means that we have to use the stuff we currently use to poison the sea.

Above all, we need to halt the growth trend of the global human population. But of course, that topic is forbidden, especially for Government Ministers. For the purposes of public discourse, it is possible to expand forever into a finite space, and distorters would rather stimulate a row about GM foods than actually look at reality.

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