Growing Voices are a EuropaBio initiative aiming to highlight the broad based and growing constituency of interest in genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe.
I was recently speaking to a member of the animal feed supply chain who informed me that the amount of animal feed (most of which is genetically modified) to Europe equated to the combined weight of every person in the European Union – an almost unimaginable weight of 33 million tonnes. On the same day, I was also talking to someone who told me that Green MEPs were asking the Commission to change the system of permitting GM food and animal feed authorisations for imports into Europe to make it more democratic. Which got me thinking – at what point did the anti-GM groups become the guardians of democracy of our food supply?
So, despite the fact that GM products successfully jump the European Food Safety Agency regulatory hurdles, the most rigorous regulations in the world, these groups pronounce that farmers should not be able to access GM protein-rich imports such as soy, and that retailers should not stock, and therefore consumers should not be able purchase, produce containing GM ingredients? Apparently because “consumers don’t want it”. So exactly how democratic is that?
Surely European dairy and livestock farmers should have the choice of what safe produce they feed to their livestock – they have been able to do so up to now without any issue whatsoever.Why would other groups add extra costs to their already economically difficult situation?
And why would you want to deny consumers the choice to buy something in a supermarket? Might it be because these groups are scared that consumers are not really concerned about the presence of GM ingredients in their food? Certainly the decision by almost all UK retailers to allow the introduction of GM animal feed in almost all dairy and meat production did not result in any reduction in sales.
So rather than wanting more democracy in European food production, they want to eliminate choice. Not only is such a stance hypocritical, it is also disingenuous.
GMOs are already an integral part of our daily lives, as Europe benefits from this key enabling technology mainly indirectly through imports. We wear GM cotton clothes, we pay with GM cotton banknotes, and each year European farmers rely on imports of GM soybeans as a key protein source for their farm animals.
Here’s some good food for thought for all European citizens, experts, journalists and decision makers. Our society needs to address the issue of producing more food with less land, as the world population will reach at least 9 billion people by 2050.
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