Will anti-GM Europe change its mind about GM foods?

| July 7, 2014
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

While the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and China and many other countries have warmly embraced genetically modified crops, Europe remains the world’s big holdout. Could this be about to change? New European Union rules now seek to clear up years of internal deadlock that could, in theory, lead to widespread cultivation of GM foods. But the fight is far from over.

The EU’s great GM debate pits two powerful forces against each other: green campaigners concerned about the effect of the crops on health and the environment, and the agri-business lobby, which argues that Europe, by resisting a technology that boosts yields and rural incomes, is losing its place at the forefront of agricultural innovation.

Europe’s fragmented politics, diverse landscapes and smaller scale farming traditions have made it less compatible with the mass-farming techniques in the Americas and China. Only one type of modified crop – a herbicide-resistant maize – is approved for cultivation in the EU, compared to 96 commercial licences granted in the United States since 1990, although Europe does import more than 30 million tonnes of GM grain for animal feed each year.

Related article:  How one gene influences many diseases

With the EU still poring over the results of May Euro-elections, it is unclear how the looming political battle will pan out. Even if the GM directive passes, will national governments court the ire of environmental campaigners by permitting large-scale GM cultivation?

Read the full, original article: Why does Europe hate GM food and is it about to change its mind?

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