Recently, Britain's Labor
Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered Prince Charles to shut down his royal
Web site. The prince refused point blank the prime minister's command.
is speaking out about Monsanto's international PR and lobbying blitzkrieg
on behalf of GM (genetically modified crops)--called
GE in the U.S. (genetically
engineered crops). He wants to encourage lively debate.
is making $1.5 billion a year from bovine growth hormone, rBGH, according
to Alexander Cockburn of the Nation, who says "the haul from Monsanto's
Round-Up Ready soybeans, potatos and corn and its terminator seeds could
be tens of billions more." The European Union has been opposed
to allowing these products into its markets, but with recent arm wringing
from U.S. politiicians such as President Clinton and V.P. Gore, the
E.U. has relented.
chided the prince's "cosmic holism and organic communitarianism"
but that is another way of saying the prince may be seeing the big picture.
Those qualities win him the Dendrite Forest Award for
The Prince of Wales asks: Is genetically modified food an innovation
we can do without?
A selection of your email responses appears below.
Elizabeth Cullen, of Ireland, said:
Thank you for the opportunity to send you the opinion of Irish Doctors
Environmental Association on genetically engineered food. As doctors
we are deeply concerned about the rapid and uncontrolled introduction
of genetically manipulated foods into the food chain through both animal
feeds and human food. While there are growing indications that environmental
effects like horizontal gene-transfer and antibiotic resistance (that
were ruled out by government and industry scientists) are wide-spread,
no ill effects on humans have been found to date. This is not surprising,
since mixed and unlabelled food makes epidemiological assessment extremely
difficult, if not impossible. GM foods are introduced on the strength
of assumed equivalence, i.e. a GM tomato with a fish-gene is still called
a tomato, which is probably true as far as language goes, but nonetheless
untrue because this tomato contains substances not normally found in
tomatoes. Never in history have free people been fed foods that were
entirely untested for safety. This is an illegitimate mass experiment
on people who are not informed, have not given consent. Until stringent
experiments to the standard of trials for new drugs have proven the
safety of GM foods in humans it is irresponsible to call them safe,
and it is certainly not scientific. Until long-term safety studies have
proven the safety of these substances for humans and the environment,
we call for:
1. A moratorium on GM - organisms in farming.
2. A ban of GM foods for human and animal consumption.
3. An immediate introduction of labelling for all GM products.
4. A government policy that calls for these restrictions internationally.
I wish you every success with your work.
John Mason, of Barnsley, South Yorks, UK, said:
As a biologist I find myself in total agreement with HRH on the
subject of GMFs. At the moment the dangers or otherwise of GMFs on individual
health is a red herring to distract from the wider environmental issues,
so clearly highlighted by HRH. At a time when only about three GMFs
are commercially available, the issue of safety to the consumer is similarly
distracting from the fact that each new GMF introduced will present
a new situation with potential and unknown dangers. It will always be
impossible to say that the next GMF is safe, simply because current
ones may be.
Margaret Crick, of Oxfordshire, UK, said:
I agree with all the Prince of Wales' comments. In addition, I strongly
object to having GM foods forced on me, particularly in relation to
soya products, which I often buy as milk, desserts or beans, and which
are in so many processed foods. It seems impossible to ensure that one
is buying non-GM soya, even when it is labelled as organic. Why can't
the supermarkets and food manufacturers use their prodigious powers
to persuade the soya producers to separate GM and non-GM soya? There
is very little information about GM on labels, despite what has been
promised. The whole idea of genetically modified food is frightening,
and you simply cannot choose not to eat it.
Jonathan Brown, of London, UK, said:
What is the `problem' that GM technology seeks to solve? Adding to the
nutritional content of tomatoes won't help people who don't eat fresh
food anyway, a longer shelf-life only encourages longer food miles.
Any proposed GM product should be treated as what it is, a new pharmaceutical
product, and meet the most stringent standards. Allowing GM companies
to proceed will put yet more financial power in a few private hands,
and lead to a further industrialisation of our countryside. The losers
will first be our wildlife and our soils, next our farmers' freedom
to choose, and ultimately the health of all of us.
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