GM Crops and the Test of Time

Genetically modified crops are becoming unfashionable. The European Union has steadfastly resisted the advances of Monsanto to permit the introduction of GM crops in Europe, and Monsanto has given up on the idea of introducing its crops in the EU. They say that the EU will be the loser as a result. Monsanto will still try to persuade the Europeans to permit the sale in Europe of GM crops grown elsewhere, but the European is suspicious by nature of food that is created artificially.

For thousands of years European farmers have husbanded their animals and bred their crops so as to achieve the best results. Those processes involved breeding and development of generations of crops and animals. Genetically modified food and animals are created by the use of techniques that involve taking short cuts. Instead of development over generations, which is akin to the evolution of species by human selection, firms like Monsanto try to achieve their results by manipulating the DNA of animals and plants.

Short cuts sometimes save time and energy but generally the traditional route is safer. In Europe the European public know this, and so have been unpersuaded to follow the short cut that would lead to Monsanto making larger profits; they deem the risk simply not worthwhile. BASF announced last year that it will no longer develop its GM business in Europe and has moved its GM operations to the United States. European consumers are too picky and the European politicians too frightened of their electortates to enable BASF to research GM food in Europe successfully.

In other places where GM crops have been introduced they have not proved to be the panacea that those that market them claim. In India they have been failures of GM crops and notwithstanding the claim that GM crops can feed the world safely, they only represent 3% of the world’s food sources. GM food, it was claimed, would produce crops that needed fewer insecticides and less herbicide. In fact, they appear, in many cases, to use more insecticides and herbicides and crops bred for resistance to certain diseases by genetic modification have proved that in many cases the resistance is only short lived.

It seems that the GM scientists do not know as much as they think they know; their inventions do not do what it says on the packaging. In some cases GM crops seem to work, but the truest test is the test of time that it looks likely that GM crops will fail that test.

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