Looks like there's at least one bright spark on the tour! However, if this report is to be believed, poor TINA BAINBRIDGE seems to have seriously lost the plot:
'Bainbridge regrets the absence of this choice in her own country. The UK government has imposed a complete ban on GMOs or genetically modified organisms after canned foods suspected to contain GMOs found their way on to store shelves all over the country.'
It's good to see though that, in these circumstances at least, TINA supports the right to choose. Previously, it will be remembered, TINA argued it was no more sensible to involve the public in these issues than a child in whether (s)he should cross the road!
Dr Tom Wakeford's groundbreaking ActionAid project on genuine and considered consultation of Indian farmers is described in Hugh Warwick's Ecologist article at: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/indjury.htm
Experts differ on GM foods at Bright Sparks
"WE MUST give people the right to choose. The Indian people must decide for themselves whether they want GM foods or not," says Janet Bainbridge, scientist at the University of Teeside, UK. Bainbridge is Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes an independent body of experts which advises the UK government on novel foods.
Bainbridge regrets the absence of this choice in her own country. The UK government has imposed a complete ban on GMOs or genetically modified organisms after canned foods suspected to contain GMOs found their way on to store shelves all over the country.
GMOs are life forms- usually plants- genetically engineered to contain characteristics like drought and salinity resistance, higher protein content and so on. Companies like Monsanto of the US have invested huge sums backing research in this area.
Currently, some six varieties of GM crops have been approved by the British government only for the purpose of clinical trials. They have not been commercialised. But Bainbridge believes the best way to deal with the technology is to just make it available with adequate and reliable information.
"Nothing is one hundred per cent safe. But in the United States where GM foods are freely consumed no adverse effects on health have been reported. As for environmental safety, you can answer that question only by performing the experiements," she says.
Bainbridge participated in a panel discussion on GM Foods organised by the British Council as part of 'Bright Sparks', an annual festival of Indo-British partnerships in science.
Fellow academician Tom Wakeford who also participated in the discussion however differed from Bainbridge. Wakeford, a member of the London Centre for Governance, Innovation and Science, says GM crops are the last thing a developing country like India needs.
"GM crops could benefit the relatively prosperous farmer who can afford to keep aside a portion of his land to try it out. But most farmers in India are marginal. A marginal farmer would have to substitute his subsistence crop with this," Wakeford says.
This would increase costs as GMOs come at a price, he said. They also needed more intensive use of chemicals in the long term, he claimed.
Wakeford is actively involved with a non-governmental organisation ActionAid which works with farmers in the areas of subsistence farming. Dismissing the argument that GM crops would increase production, he said, "there is enough food in the world, the problem is that of distribution and the resources to access the food," he said.