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For the record

Are GM crops bad for the environment and us? Image

Are GM crops bad for the environment and us?

On Tuesday 18th December the Daily Mail ran a two page comment piece by Joanna Blythman. In this article it was claimed that experiments had been done that showed GM crops caused significant and measurable damage to wild plants, insects and birds; that the recent study published by Seralini et al showed rats fed on GM maize were more likely to develop tumours; and that super-weeds and super-bugs were now emerging as a result of the use of GM technology. Here Professor Keith Lindsey, Professor in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Durham University, responds.

“It is a misrepresentation to say that previous experiments have shown that GM crops caused significant and measurable damage to wild plants, insects and birds. The trial to which the author is referring showed areas planted with GM maize were more beneficial for biodiversity than areas planted with non-GM maize. The biggest effects, however, were to do with which crop was grown, irrespective of whether it was GM or not. The study, and others that followed, show that crop management is more important than whether or not GM is being grown."

“The Seralini paper and the data therein have been reviewed by EFSA, the expert panel in Europe, and found to be flawed. The rats used were ones which spontaneously form tumours, and the statistical analysis was inappropriate."

“There is no evidence that superweeds or superbugs are emerging as a consequence of growing GM crops. In fact the effects on ecosystems have been found to be no different from growing tracts of non-GM crops. There is also evidence that reduced inputs into agriculture (chemical sprays, fuel use) can be a real benefit for farmers using GM crops, which is why they are grown by farmers across the world.”

Document type: For The Record

Published: 18 December 2012


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