The ever controversial issue of GM food has reared its head again in the news this week.
The papers have responded to a report from the Food Standards Agency and Defra with stories about the supermarkets ending their GM ban and calls for a proper national debate on the issue.
The arguments for and against GM are often based on ethical or heath grounds. But we should also be considering the affect on wildlife both in the UK and across the globe.
Over to the RSPB’s head of countryside policy Sue Armstrong Brown with some food for thought…
“Supermarkets are concerned about the high cost of keeping GM off the shelves but what are the true costs of the GM already hidden in the food we eat? The FSA/Defra report on the issue was triggered by concerns about UK food security and supplies of GM soya imports needed to feed our farm animals. It said ‘the UK is reliant on imported protein for animal feed, significant amounts of which is derived from GM crops’.
Are we really sure that a system so heavily reliant on soya imported from Brazil and Argentina is secure, let alone environmentally sustainable, in the longer term? The destruction of natural habitats and clearance of land to grow soya (whether GM or not) is already threatening thousands of species, such as the giant anteater, in the wildlife-rich Cerrado savannahs of Brazil and Paraguay.
If the supermarkets want to educate us and re-open the GM debate, they should start by telling us about the GM already in our food and the long-term security of the livestock sector. We need to support the struggling extensive grazing systems around the UK that are so important for our wildlife and landscapes, but are at a competitive disadvantage to systems that make much more use of unsustainably cheap soya.”