In an article in Transgenic Research, three researchers from the University
of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark argue that risk and
unnaturalness of GMO plants cannot justify the restrictive regulation of
GMOs in the European Union (EU). The researchers state that EU regulation
may stand in the way of important agricultural innovation that could provide
more sustainable and climate-friendly solutions.
Andreas Christiansen from the University of Copenhagen said that the
introduction of new varieties with compositional differences always poses a
risk whether they are genetically modified or not. The authors emphasize
that GMO crops should not be treated differently than similar products when
the risks they pose to the environment and people are comparable.
Addressing the concern of unnaturalness, Christiansen said that it is a
common argument against GMO crops and foods, and it is mentioned
specifically in EU legislation. The researchers are trying to ascertain
whether the kind of "unnaturalness" which GMO's supposedly possess can
justify bans and restrictive legislation. They point out that GMOs are
unnatural in the sense that it has been subjected to at least one more
change than the conventionally bred plant upon which it is based. However,
the conventionally bred plant is much more unnatural than its wild ancestor,
and has mutated so many times that it may in some cases be difficult to see
any relation between to two.
"It is, in other words, really difficult to construct a solid argument to
the effect that the distinction between natural and unnatural can warrant
stricter regulation of GMO's - even if we consider the best philosophical
arguments for the value of nature and naturalness," Christiansen adds.