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Green Luddites

We eat GM food now. Why not grow it? | Ross Clark - Times Online

Britain is missing out on a vital new technology by letting Luddites make all the running

Fourteen years ago we were at the forefront of GM technology, not just in the science, but in developing procedures to ensure the environmental and medical safety of new crops. Then came the campaign against “Frankenstein foods”, culminating in protesters dressed in radioactive suits and trampling down trial crops. Unlike Luddite campaigns against threshing machines and spinning jennies, this was allowed to succeed. Disgracefully, on several occasions magistrates cleared protesters of criminal damage and aggravated trespass. GM research all but ground to a halt and commercial production never started.
It is different elsewhere in the world, where commercial production of GM crops is commonplace. Worldwide, 125 million hectares of land were cultivated with commercial GM crops in 2008. Environmentalists who believe that Britain remains a GM-free zone are deluded.....

I will make three predictions. First, that in 50 years’ time most of the world, most of the time, will consume GM crops. Second, that conventional crops will by then be grown only as “heritage” food for fussy and wealthy consumers — the comestible equivalent of Farrow & Ball paint. And third, that unless we quickly recognise this and take the argument to the anti-GM protesters who have been allowed to monopolise the debate, Britain’s agribusiness will have disappeared entirely abroad, leaving us a poorer country.

That is the case for GM in this country, where we have the luxury of choosing to be picky in what we eat, and if we want to turn the countryside into a heritage park we can. The case for GM in the poorer parts of the world is more vital .


I always find it funny how the people opposed to scientifically sound GM are generally those who use scientists as defence for climate change.

Sitting over here in Canada, the whole GM brouhaha seems, well, quite quaint.

JJM, Canada has/had a big problem with GM oil-seed rape. The introduction of a modified pesticide-resistant variety, perhaps 15 years ago, was intended to resist the treatments that would eliminate the weeds that had been reducing yields. But, after a few seemingly successful seasons, the modified, pesticide-resistant genes somehow appeared in the (not quite eliminated) weeds. Now more pesticides are used than ever before and yields are down below the starting point.

It's little wonder that there is opposition to GM - there are supposedly many similar cases.

I'm sure most GM is beneficial, but there are obviously limits to its application, as above, with as yet unsuspected outcomes still possible..

I think it's grossly unfair to describe today's greens as "Luddites". The Luddites were skilled workers who opposed the introduction of new automated methods which replaced them with unskilled workers. Whatever their faults they were at least rational - an attribute that cannot be claimed by those who oppose human development on pseudo-religious or aesthetic grounds.

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