19 October 2011
Letter to The Times newspaper
At the end of this month, the world’s population will reach 7 billion; 1 billion are hungry, and 1 billion more are malnourished (http://tinyurl.com/3ngkyrt). In the next decades, there will be more humans. Limited land and water, costly energy for fertilizer, and climate change will ensure that more of them are hungry. Politics, economics and lack of good governance exacerbate the problem, but science and technology can contribute greatly to the solution. Why then is Europe regulating one part of the solution- GM (genetically modified) crops- as if they are a hazard?
41 leading Swedish plant scientists (see http://bit.ly/n8IgVc) have issued an important statement, expressing dismay, bewilderment and anger that legislation of GM crops in the EU is not based on science, ignores recent evidence, blocks opportunities to increase agricultural sustainability, and sustains the dominance of multinationals.
We undersigned British plant scientists endorse the assessment by our Swedish colleagues of the politics and science of GM crops. Irrational and unwarranted obstacles that obstruct the deployment of this useful technology retard innovations that will increase yields and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. Irresponsible and perhaps well-meaning pressure groups, purporting to protect the environment, are preventing delivery of agrichemical-free solutions to crop pests and diseases. Small companies and the public sector are excluded from providing solutions by excessive regulatory costs, ensuring dominance of the market by multinationals. Pressure groups and organic trade associations who block deployment of GM damage the public interest and prevent the adoption of benign solutions to crop problems, not just in Europe but also in the developing world. We call on these groups to cease and desist from blocking genetic solutions to crop problems, and on Europe to adopt science-based GM regulations. Supporters are endorsing this campaign at http://bit.ly/q3FoIr.
Jonathan Jones, Giles Oldroyd, Dale Sanders, Maurice Moloney, Sophien Kamoun, Tina Barsby, Wayne Powell
Jonathan Jones and Sophien Kamoun: The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, UK
Dale Sanders and Giles Oldroyd: The John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, UK
Maurice Maloney – Rothamsted Research, Harpenden UK
Wayne Powell- IBERS, Aberystwyth, UK
Tina Barsby: NIAB, Cambridge UK