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Genetic Engineering: An article from

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1 Genetic Engineering: An article from am Fr Apr 16, 2010 4:15 pm


From The Times
January 13, 2010

Organic farmers must embrace GM crops if we are to feed the world, says scientist

Genetically modified soya can have benefits, Professor Gordon Conway says
Mark Henderson, Science Editor

The organic movement should overcome its hostility to genetically modified crops and embrace the contribution that they can make to sustainable farming, one of the world’s leading agricultural scientists has told The Times.

Although organic farmers are among the most implacable opponents of genetic engineering, it should be accepted as legitimate, according to Gordon Conway, Professor of International Development at Imperial College London and a former government adviser.

In an interview with The Times, he said that the ban on organic farmers using GM crops was based on an excessively rigid rejection of synthetic approaches to farming and a misconception that natural ways were safer and more environment- friendly than man-made ones.

Farmers, he said, should use the best aspects of organic methods and GM technology to maximise yields while limiting damage to ecosystems. He accepted that organic lobbyists would regard the idea as heresy, but said that genetic engineering could create better organic crops than those grown today with further environmental benefits.

Liam Clarke: Anti-GM brigade will turn feast into famine
Scientists strive to win backing for GM crops
“What frustrates me is there is a real potential for combining GM technology and organic approaches,” said Professor Conway, who stepped down last year as chief scientific adviser to the Department for International Development. “To say that is probably heretical, but there would be real benefits if we got over this notion that GM is somehow not organic.”

His comments come amid increasing pressure from scientists for greater use of GM crops to ensure food security for a global population that will reach nine billion by 2050, while minimising environmental damage. Professor John Beddington, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, said this week that the world could not afford to ignore the potential of genetic engineering to improve agriculture. GM technology is rejected by lobbyists such as the Soil Association, which regards it as unnatural and hazardous.

Professor Conway said that conventional farming had a lot to learn from organic agriculture, as inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides had been overused, causing environmental damage.

GM crops, he said, were compatible with the organic movement’s goal of making farming more sustainable, but fell foul of its strict but misguided notion that natural methods were always best. “A lot of the world view is that nature is always benign and that whatever we do is not benign, and that is pure rubbish,” he said. “Nature is full of very poisonous things indeed. You have got these rigid rules, which are reinforced by a number of misconceptions, putting it mildly.”

While the processes used to create GM crops are unnatural, so too is the conventional breeding that has created today’s non-GM varieties. Both methods involve genes that are natural in origin, but genetic engineering can create crops with significant advantages.

The rigidity of organic certification rules can thus work against sustainability by blocking the use of helpful technologies, Professor Conway said.

Herbicide-tolerant GM crops, for example, can encourage “no-till” farming that reduces carbon emissions. “You can genetically engineer crops to be better organic crops. At the moment, I don’t think many people would accept that, but I think eventually they will,” he said.

Instead of concentrating on natural, farmers should pick and choose the most sustainable options regardless of their origin. “If we are going to get a sustainable, resilient world, we need appropriate technologies and we should not go in with a rigid set of preconceptions,” he said. “I think we are going to end up in a very interesting hybrid world in which we choose the technology because it is appropriate, not because of where it has come from. And 2050 will be like that: it will not be completely high-technology, and it will not be a completely back-tonature world.”



Hier ist auch der Link dazu ;-)
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/earth-environment/article6985295.ece

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