Scientists Admit Risks Of
GM Are Unknown
By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor
Two American experts have refuelled the controversy over genetically modified (GM) crops by saying no one can be certain of the risks or benefits.
The scientists, from the US Environmental Protection Agency, said that genetic engineering and selective breeding may not have the same long-term effects.
"As more economically useful and health-related genes are identified and isolated, it appears that the variety of genetically engineered organisms will increase dramatically. This increase may collectively represent an environmental risk," wrote LaReesa Wolfenbarger and P R Phifer, in the journal Science.
Environmental campaigners have seized on the paper as evidence that GM research is moving too fast. Pete Riley, food campaigner of Friends of the Earth, said: "This review hits the nail very firmly on the head and backs up what we have been saying for many years.
"The alleged benefits of GM crops are not based on independent studies and there is hardly any research on the long-term environmental risks.
"Why has the biotech industry been allowed to grow commercial crops when the scientific case is so feeble? The biotech industry is using us as guinea pigs and the environment as an open-air lab."
The Environmental Protection Agency is now involved in a dispute with the US Department of Agriculture, which has allowed the commercial planting of thousands of acres of GM crops such as soya and maize.
No GM crops have been approved for commercial planting in Britain, pending the results of "field trials" to assess the impact. There is now growing consumer pressure in America for labelling to beapplied to GM-derived food, as it is in Europe.

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