Biotech farming is overtaking GM says Greenpeace
NewsMonday 27 October 2014
Greenpeace have stated that genetically modified crops have failed to live up to their promise and that the row over GM crops should now be a thing of the past.
The environmental campaign group are to release a report this week that highlights the success of biotechnology projects which are improving food production around the world far more better than GM crops.
Greenpeace have been against GM foods for a long time and they now claim that a “silent revolution” in agriculture is taking place and is having a better effect than the GM process, which has, according to the group, shown disappointing results.
Dr Doug Parr is Greenpeace’s chief scientist and he said: “Whilst the debate between GM and non-GM has used up most of the political oxygen, this report shows it is not the only – or indeed, the best – show in town. There is a growing range of non-GM biotechnologies which show how a growing world population can be fed at a time when natural environments are increasingly stressed.
“It’s a silent revolution, making huge strides on the ground for the world’s farmers without the novel risks of GM,” he said. “The debate is not about GM anymore; things have moved on.”
Several leading geneticists have come out and criticised the group, claiming they are showing a bizarre hypocrisy. They claim that GM and biotechnologies - which are being backed by Greenpeace - both use the same science.
The biotechnology that Greenpeace is backing is known as Marker Assisted Selection (MAS), which combines genetics and molecular biology to pick out and control the best traits of an individual plant.
Where it differs from GM is that it uses gene technology to improve what’s already available as opposed to introducing new elements.
Johnjoe McFadden, a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Surrey, spoke to the Guardian saying: “This is bizarre. What they are talking about is essentially the suite of technologies that spearhead the ‘green revolution’, which eco groups such as Greenpeace have steadfastly rubbished for decades. Now they see it as agriculture’s saviour.
“If GM is not up to much then why has it been so successful that crops such as soya are now nearly all GM worldwide. Who knows best how to grow their own crops – farmers or Greenpeace?
“Genetic-assisted breeding is certainly very important and will help to generate new crops but it can’t, for example, replace golden rice. Vitamin A-rich rice cannot be bred because it isn’t a trait which already occurs in rice. This places strict limitations on this form of breeding.”
Greenpeace has, however, insisted that Vitamin A rice is still years away from being ready and they also stated that MAS has shown success with rice, as well as wheat. They also pointed out how MAS had helped increase resistance to disease for crops that are very important in certain areas.
They responded by saying: “Our report shows how MAS has a much stronger track record of delivery than GM technologies on properties that genuinely help poorer families globally, yet currently receives little attention.”