Letter on "GM" foods

We received a letter from Hong Kong in reply to our articles on GM foods.


I have just read to of your articles on what you call Genetically Modified food, but what we in Hong Kong and Greenpeace International still refer to as Genetically Engineered food. The establishment has already compromised you - GM is those companies' preferred name.

Anyway. I completely agree with articles concerning GE food in Socialist Appeal issues 67 and 77, though I feel the earlier article is not as clear as it might be. But you seem to be missing one of the strongest arguments against GE food, which runs completely contrary to what the companies claim - that GE crops will provide a safe and guaranteed supply of food.

The argument is well described in a Greenpeace International publication called Centres of Diversity. Simply put, single species of plants can have a variety of genomes. This is protection for the continuation of the species and for it to continue to deveolop. Some of the plants are more suited to warm damp sunny climes while others which produce a variant of the same species, may prefer well drained soil in shady conditions. The danger is that if a GE variety begins pollinating natural ones, the GE ones could completely take over the habitat and eliminate the natural species. When the GE variety is attacked naturally or otherwise, if the crop were to be destroyed or permanently damaged, there would be no natural varieties to fall back on, which is how farmers have managed to develop new strains throughout history. Therefore, GE crops could actually endanger the ability of the planet to feed the population - which it could already do if we wished, it's just a matter of distribution.

The Greenpeace booklet is easily understandable, and gives a far better description than the one I have just outlined. Last time I looked at their Web site, the information was available for nowt. But the booklet should still be available from Greenpeace, and is well worth the read.


Hong Kong

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