Friday, 14 September 2018

To GM or Not to GM?

I have often thought that the dangers of actually eating Genetically Modified (GM) crops have been greatly exaggerated, after all we regularly take in mixtures of DNA when we eat (a tomato with a gene from a sardine would give you a similar genetic 'cocktail' of DNA bases as eating sardines with tomato). One must always remember that we don't actually absorb complete DNA molecules, as they are broken down into their constituents by our digestive systems, before these are taken up. The potential problems associated with 'rogue' GM weeds may be a more realistic concern. It is consequently interesting to read that farmers in the UK may get greater opportunities to grow GM crops after Brexit (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/26/british-farmers-could-grow-gm-crops-after-brexit-reveals-ministe/). Although this would stimulate an area of UK scientific expertise, there are 2 potential problems with this aim.  Firstly, agitation against GM (crops but not medical applications) has always been intense in the UK, certainly contributing to the initial EU ban and secondly changing UK policy in this respect might well make trading prepared foods with the EU even more difficult. It would also be unfortunate if a relaxation of the GM ban in the UK resulted in an influx of such  materials from the USA (along with hormone-treated beef and chlorine-washed chicken).

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