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Genetically modified crops - February issue

Nick Maclaren nmm1 at cus.cam.ac.uk
Tue Feb 9 09:13:27 EST 1999

In article <36BDC3AE.79039FEB at uga.cc.uga.edu>,
Wayne Parrott <wparrott at uga.cc.uga.edu> writes:
|> >
|> > Indeed. The argument is that if used according to best practice, they
|> > will reduce overall herbicide use - and it may be true. But there is no
|> > guarantee that they will be used according to best practice. There are a
|> > lot of people out there who are firm believers in the idea that if a
|> > little is good, then more (stronger or more frequent) is better.
|> Here, economics is a powerful force.  Having to spray a second time can mean the
|> difference between a profit and a loss for the year.  Overall, the farm prices
|> (for non-subsidized crops) are too low for farmers to be able to indulge in
|> excessive use of herbicides, if they want to stay in the farming business.

Here, it is at least as powerful.  If they don't sell to the supermarkets,
the go broke PDQ - and the supermarkets demand 'perfect' produce.  So
they spray the hell out of crops with pesticides, often illegally.

When I last saw figures, the USA's use of organophosphates was actually
higher (relatively) than the UK's on many classes of food crops.  I
think that fruit was one of those.

|> > > Overall, I think current trends are ameliorating some of the hazards
|> > > associated with high-yield agriculture.
|> >
|> > Transgenic crops and other forms of 'fast-track' genetic modification
|> > present a variety of hazards which have not yet been fully assessed.

That is the problem.  And, when the EU wanted more safety information
from Monsanto, Monsanto's response was to refuse and to get the USA
government to threaten a trade war.  That is the main reason that the
European politicians are annoyed.

Nick Maclaren,
University of Cambridge Computing Service,
New Museums Site, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3QG, England.
Email:  nmm1 at cam.ac.uk
Tel.:  +44 1223 334761    Fax:  +44 1223 334679

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