Blowing the dust off GM

Our complicated relationship with food is something to monitor closely over the next year. The GM issue is one that we’ll be seeing more of.
I’ve always found certain aspects of the environmental debate unsavoury. It struck me, by merely observing audience reactions on political panel shows, how any argument that was made against the green ethics movement was turned against the sceptic and that person all but labelled a pariah.
Of all the behavioural changes caused by the credit crunch, I’m hoping that a positive one will be a willingness to hear all sides of the argument that previously (when we had more disposable cash and could afford a large baggage of trendy ethics) went unheard during those “debates.”
There was an excellent piece in one of last week’s Financial Times about Genetically Modified food. What’s striking is the almost complete lack of any GM agriculture in Europe, compared to its ubiquity on the other side of the Atlantic.
What’s seldom pointed out about the US experience is that over there – surely the most litigious nation on the planet – GM has been part of the landscape for a decade and despite the anti- arguments, there have been no successful class action suits demonstrating that they’ve caused people harm. And this is a country with a population of over 300 million.
Although we’re still going to watch out for those food miles, there will be an erosion of hard-line attitudes against GM when it hits home that this technology will mean cheaper food (and, if certain ethics are hard to discard, it’s realised that GM can mean more third world farmers can grow more of it too).
Of course it is possible that the anti-GM protesters are right. But until the average consumer has been given the real facts – the scientifically proven ones – by both sides, the UK and Europe will have to get used to seeing those supermarket bills rise.


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Self-important bit

I’m Victor Houghton, a, er... something or other in one of the UK’s largest advertising agencies. My job title has a comma in it, which is embarrassing. I’m the chief finder-things-outer with a splash of trends who is lucky to work with all the major functions of the agency, even though I am most closely associated with strategic planning. Everything in this blog has most probably been stolen from other, infinitely more talented people, although the opinions are most definitely my own and not those of the agency.



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