1st November, 2008
Genetically modified food. It’s a big issue. Increasingly, we are handed the notion that GM food is just like any other food, only better, because of its almost magical power to solve our most immediate crises of poverty, hunger, fossil-fuel depletion and climate change.
In a world where we are daily met with the grief of an imploding financial system and the day-to-day hardships of making ends meet, it’s understandable to want to believe in such easy magic.
But GM isn’t like switching to a low-energy light bulb. If it doesn’t work you can’t take it back to the shop or, more importantly, remove it from the environment. Because only a handful of large multinational companies are behind its development, a GM future takes our food supply out of the hands of individual farmers and puts it in the grip of conglomerates, disconnected from the land and from those who work and rely upon it. In this vision of the future our relationship to land and food fundamentally changes; we are less resilient and more dependent on others to feed us. These are complex issues of growing concern.
What will become apparent as you read this special edition, written by leading thinkers, academics and campaigners in the field, is that the GM crops that promise increased yields, and drought- and saline-resistance don’t actually exist anywhere but on the drawing board. What is more, these same traits can be achieved through normal plant-breeding, and in many cases such plants...
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