The dangers of condescension in the GM debate

Genetically modified GM c
Environment secretary Owen Paterson (left) and plant geneticist Huw Jones view a GM crop trial during a visit to Rothamsted Research on Thursday. (CREDIT: PA, via Guardian)

The following is an editorial summary.

The UK’s Environmental Secretary Owen Patterson has been calling for the UK to become a global leader in the development of GM crops. His latest pro-GM speech was given yesterday, June 20, at the Rothamsted Research Institute. Patterson’s vision of a pro-GM UK would be reversal of the country’s extremely stringent stance on GM crops and foods.

Unfortunately, write’s Paul Nightingale, deputy director of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, his “‘deficit model‘ approach [to the GM issue] is deeply flawed. Such deficit model thinking assumes that if we explain the science, the people will change their minds about a technology.” This, argues Nightingale, only serves to make those wary of genetic modification feel condescended to.

HIs warning — “If you want to get the pro-science, technically sophisticated UK public to change its mind on GM, don’t imply they’re stupid” — may have implications in other countries like the US or any number of African nations where the debate over GM crops is still raging.

Read the full story here: The GM slow motion train wreck

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