Re: British Farmer Destroys Genetically Modified Crop

Charlie Stross (
Tue, 8 Jun 1999 17:08:52 +0100

On Mon, Jun 07, 1999 at 12:48:33PM -0700, Gina Miller wrote:
> British Farmer Destroys Genetically Modified Crop
> By John Morrison
> LONDON (Reuters) - British campaigners against genetically modified (GM)
> crops claimed victory Monday after a farmer bowed to local opposition and
> destroyed his trial crop of GM oilseed rape with weedkiller.
> The environmentalist Green Party, hoping that consumer worries about food
> safety would help it win its first seats in the European Parliament, called
> Monday for a total ban on field trials of modified oilseed rape and maize.

This isn't just the Green party. Food scares have become a staple part of the British media diet in recent years, and for good reason: consider the BSE crisis as an example of how major problems are covered up, then bear in mind that something like 80% of the food sold in the UK is sold through five supermarket chains.

The anti-GM backlash isn't rational, but it's an understandable outcome of a situation where lots of people have been lied to -- with potentially fatal consequences -- and the media has noticed that bad news about food sells copy. The politicians are already shifting gear from making soothing noises about committees of enquiry to hedging about moratoria: they've seen which way the wind is blowing.

I'm coming to fear that the prospects for GM food in the UK resemble those for neighbourhood nuclear fission reactors in the USA: it's going to turn into the next big taboo subject.