Growing tomorrow's dinner, should GM be on the table?

At the Principality Stadium last week the Royal Society hosted a talk addressing the food security issues of the future, asking what role Genetically Modified (GM) foods may play in this future.  

The majority of the panel were confident that GM techniques are the way forward, but this is at odds with the general public’s attitude toward GM food. Around a third of people think that the risks of GM crops outweigh the benefits, and most people do not feel informed about them.

The first of the speakers was Professor Huw Jones, vice-chair of the GMO panel at the European Food Safety Authority. Huw highlighted the fact that the public tend not to have a problem with conventional breeding, and that GM is just making a more specific change to DNA.

In response to this claim Liz O’Neill, the director of GM Freeze, was quick to point out that “precision is not the same as predictability.”

Struck by the lack of balance on the panel, and the emotive language used to describe the anti-GM position, I arranged for a chat with Liz to find out more about the aims of GM Freeze.

Liz GM Freeze
Liz O’Neill, Director of GM Freeze

GM Freeze was formed in 1999 and aims to raise the profile of concerns about the impact of genetic modification. They campaign for a moratorium on both GM food and farming in the UK, and oppose the patenting of GM resources.

One of the core values that motivates their work is the belief that everyone in the world deserves nutritious food that is produced responsibly, fairly and sustainably.

While conceding that “the process of GM is not inherently unsafe” a focus of their opposition to GM foods is how the ownership of genetic resources by big corporations leads to a reduction in diversity. There is “very little research for research’s sake, there is too much commercial interest.”

Although proponents of the anti-GM position are often portrayed as anti-scientific, GM Freeze are committed to an evidence-based opposition to GM.

There are several ways to get involved with GM Freeze. You can donate, join as a member, or get involved with one of their active campaigns.

Feed me the Truth is a campaign run by GM Freeze which aims to put pressure on supermarkets to reveal whether their meat and dairy products are GM-fed.