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Lib Dem Lord Dick Taverne Says Genetically Modified Foods are Safe and Environmentally Favorable

Critics of biotechnology raise the question: are genetically modified food safe? When in fact, genetically modified (GM) crops are considered to be among the most studied and reviewed foods in the world. Using well established, internationally accepted standards of risk assessment, regulatory authorities worldwide have reviewed all genetically modified crops now on the market and determined that they pose no more risk than crops produced through traditional breeding methods.

“The more I’ve looked at genetic modification, the more I’ve become an enthusiast for the technology,” says Lord Taverne, Member of the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee of the UK Parliament.  “The evidence is fairly clear on certain points.  First of all, there can be no doubt that so far there is no evidence of any damage to health — any danger to health.”

Food and feed products containing ingredients derived from genetically modified crops have a solid 12-year history of safe use with no reliable documentation of any food safety issues.  Twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and 3,400 prominent scientists have expressed their support for genetically modified crops as a “powerful and safe” way to improve agriculture and the environment.

“It’s reduced the use of pesticides. It produces greater productivity. And, if it reduces the amount of farmland you have to use, it can actually be very beneficial to biodiversity ... very beneficial to the environment,” says Taverne, a former member of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, who is excited about the link between biotechnology and the environment.  “And here are these people who are fighting against it — who claim that they’re benefiting the third world.  Hypocrites they are.  I mean, it is extraordinary how they don’t even look at the evidence.  They’re just dogmatically opposed to the evidence.”

Lord Taverne is founder of the charity Sense About Science, which promotes an evidence-based approach to scientific issues and the public understanding of scientific research. He is the author of The March of Unreason: Science Democracy and the New Fundamentalism.

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