What is GM?
Genetic Modification is the use of modern biotechnology techniques to change the genes of an organism in order to create new products. The first GM crop was created in 1983 and the first GM food product hit UK supermarkets in 1996. GM gained popularity because it gave farmers the opportunity to change negative traits of certain plants, not possible during traditional breeding, in order to potentially maximise profit and yield. GM changes and swaps the genes of certain crops and plants, for example: a new crop variety might be bred that is more drought tolerant or resistant to a certain disease.
Where can GM crops be found?
No GM crops are being grown commercially in the UK at the present, but some GM, especially soya, are being used mainly for animal feed, and to a lesser extent in some food products.
Worldwide, in 2009 GM crops were grown by around 14 million farmers in 25 countries. The area grown has increased steadily year-on-year, reaching about 134 million hectares in 2009. This represents 9% of the world’s arable land, an area equivalent to over five times the size of the UK. (Defra 2011)
Is there GM in my shopping trolley?
GM was rejected by shoppers as a food when it was first launched so you can’t find it directly, but it does sneak its way into our food chain. A large and growing number of animals worldwide are now being reared on GM Soya and Maize – however, legally this does not have to be labelled on our food.
How do I avoid it?
Choosing to eat organic food is a far healthier option. The regulations in place ensure that no GM feed or ingredients are used at any stage in the process – meaning you can be certain of what has gone into your food at every stage and what you consume is wholly natural. You will be pleased to hear that Doves Farm Foods are completely GM free and a majority of the products we make and sell are organic too.
Why should GM be banned?
1. GM is not proved safe – since no testing is in place, we do not know the effects of GM feed on animals.
2. GM causes environmental damage – GM crops have increased weedkiller resistance, thus increasing the use of much more dangerous pesticides to control some species.
3. GM allows the release of new organisms which have never pre-existed into nature – we cannot measure the effects this might have on our fragile eco-system.
4. GM damages livelihoods – GM crops are usually patented by huge corporations, causing farmers to lose their independence if they plant them.
GM does NOT:
• Help tackle climate change – no amount of gene-swapping can change the weather.
• Fight world hunger – GM food is not the answer to this problem.
• Boost yields – No GM crops have been shown to boost yields.
• Keep food prices down – Food prices rose because of drought, rising overheads and the recession. Not GM.