Checkbiotech: Experts say GM crops alone will not end hunger.
www.czu.cz ; www.raupp.info
Swiss experts have warned that genetically modified (GM) crops are not the
only way to combat global hunger September 2004.
A government advisory body said on Thursday that not enough research had
been carried out into the impact of gene technology.
The Ethics Committee on Non-Human Gene Technology called for closer
coordination of state-funded research programmes in an effort to help
improve the provision of food in the developing world.
The committee's report comes less than four months after the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a study into the
environmental effects of GM crops.
The FAO found that biotechnology could help farmers in the developing world
by increasing both the amount and quality of crops grown. The report added
that genetic modification could even create crops that target the specific
problems and needs of developing countries.
The United States has said in the past that GM crops could help to address
the needs of ?hundreds of millions? of people who do not have enough food.
But critics argue that proposals to sell such crops to the developing world
fail to address the complex issue of how to deal with hunger and
?It is a simplification to assume that the food situation will fundamentally
improve by relying on gene technology,? said the ethics committee?s report.
The authors argue that state-funded research projects should not focus
exclusively on such technology.
The committee called on the scientific community to consider other options,
adding that alternative methods were often more promising and produced
Florianne Koechlin, a renowned biologist and critic of gene technology, said
the majority of committee members shared the concern that the promotion of
GM crops could lead to the extinction of certain plants and species.
Christoph Stückelberger of the Swiss charity, Bread for All, said there was
also a risk that modern technology could ignore the religious and social
aspects of agricultural life in the developing world.
The committee concluded that citizens in both the developed and developing
world had the same right to a sufficient and healthy diet and that they were
entitled to decide for themselves how the food they eat should be produced.
The experts added that it was vital to ensure that the use of gene
technology in developing countries did not lead to tensions within a society
or between states.
They also called for increased efforts on the part of the industrialised
world to provide the know-how for other countries to take informed decisions
on such technology.
The committee said the purpose of its report was to contribute to the debate
about genetic modification and to advise Swiss politicians and the
government?s development agency on the issue. swissinfo with agencies
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