作者：张无忌之1989 提交日期：2004-3-22 16:07:00 | 分类： | 访问量：601
03 月22 日
A GM crop of greed
Last week, the British government announced that it would approve a strain of genetically modified maize, but would not allow the planting of similarly modified oilseed rape or sugar beet. The decision was said to be based on environmental considerations. The maize promoted biodiversity, the rape and beet reduced it.
For biodiversity, read weeds. The environmental damage at issue is exactly the same as the damage you do with a hoe in a flower bed. Weeds were well controlled in the trials of GM rape and beet. But the field with GM maize displayed more "biodiversity" than its non-GM counterpart - there were species in it the farmer had not intended to be there. This was because a more powerful, and soon to be restricted, herbicide was used on the non-GM maize.
I am not kidding. I wish I were. These experiments could not conceivably have produced data to support or allay public worries about GM crops. There is no reason for anyone to have changed their mind about GM after hearing these results, and no evidence that anyone did.
The background is a loss of public confidence in the commitment and competence of government to promote food safety. This problem is most acute in Britain, where official statements about "mad cow" disease and foot- and-mouth disease were subsequently found to be unjustified and untrue. Rebuilding trust will be a slow process. It will not be achieved through specious experiments. At best, the GM trials were a comprehensive waste of time and money; at worst, a sham to allow ministers to claim scientific support for political expediency.
Humans rightly feel uneasy about playing God in the creation of new species. But the juicy steak, the nourishing wheat grain, the loyal dog and the affectionate cat never existed in a state of nature. They are the product of generations of selective breeding and hybridisation. The development of new strains of hybrid corn - the green revolution - has been the single most important factor reducing world poverty in the past 50 years. We have engaged in genetic manipulation since agriculture was invented.
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