Monday, 31 August 2015

Scottish and German bans on GM crops

The illogical news that Scotland is to ban genetically modified crops is relatively old. However, as I got reminded of it recently while listening to an episode of the SGU I thought I would dig it up and have another look at it as the news really annoyed me when I first heard about it. To clarify any misunderstanding, I am completely on board with the SGU on this topic as I think the Scotish Parliament is ridiculous to take this stance.

So how did this all happen? Well, perhaps first it is important to realize that Europe has traditionally been very skeptical of GM foods, and as such it was good news earlier this year when the EU made the decision to allow planting and import of more GM plants. This decision it should be noted is being made on science with the EU adopting policies of safe GM foods based on reports by the European Food Safety Authority. Interestingly, these decisions are still being made even in the wake of majority No votes by EU countries, as happened with the 19 to 5 vote on the GM maize strain 1507. However, in this process the EU made the decision to allow independent countries to opt out and not allow these GM crops to be grown in their land. This opt out is what Scotland and now Germany have decided to do.

I think it is important to note that as of writing Scotland and Germany have not officially opted as the final date for this is 3 October 2015, although it is highly likely to go forward. What is disconcerting however is the reasons given for this, as well as it takes away options from farmers that may want to grow GM crops.

So why would the Scottish adopt an anti-scientific stance? They are scared that GMOs will damage their clean and green brand with respect to their food and drink industries. This stance makes no sense when one considers that most of these crops have been modified genetically and are in fact bastards compared to the wild varieties. One way to think about this is to remember Ray Comfort and the banana, where he claimed the banana was designed, while completely ignoring the fact that the modern banana is nothing compared to the wild banana. Never mind that the wild type banana is itself a bastardized GMO plant.

Lastly, apparently this ban will not affect scientific research into GMOs in Scotland according to a government spokesperson. However, this will only become clear when the final opt out is made to the EU.

To the Scottish and Germans reading this blog do not be swayed by pseudo science. Write a letter and let the crops that have been proven scientifically safe and sound in to your countries so that farmers who want to plant them and consumers who want to eat them can.