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Topic section: GM – to modify or not to modify?
TOPIC SECTION:
GM – to modify or not to modify?
For the companies that supply seed and pesticides, genetic modification (GM) technology can provide high-yielding crops with inbuilt disease and pesticide resistance.
Picture: 03_10305337.jpg
Slow-ripening GM tomatoes developed for tomato paste.
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
 This seems to hold out the promise of better and cheaper food. But what will be the view of the public?

Disease-resistant crops are one thing, but what happens if the disease and pesticide resistance transfers to weeds? What appeared to be a benefit of the technology suddenly becomes a downside.

Who gains or loses from this technology? The companies supplying the seeds and the pesticides certainly gain. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t pursue the technology. But what benefits are there for farmers?

For small farmers, unable to afford the seeds and pesticides needed for GM crops, there are disadvantages.

If the public won’t buy the products, supermarkets will not stock them and farmers will not grow them

 For large farms that sell crops to supermarket chains there may well be benefits.

But what benefits are there for consumers? Until these are clearly established, the public is not going to buy GM food. If the public won’t buy the products, supermarkets will not stock them and farmers will not grow them. In this case GM technology will not be widely used for food crops.

 
 
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Topic section: The peaceful atom
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The quality of our air, water and food matters to us, and we all want to do our bit to save the planet. We can all try to do the little things, but our efforts will only be worthwhile if the proper economic, technological and political systems are in place.  > more

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Topic section: Foot and mouth disease
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The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of 2001 raised questions of science versus compensation culture. Would vaccination favoured by scientists be acceptable to farmers worried about public resistance to eating vaccinated meat?  > more
 
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