As global food prices climb, the debate over genetically modified agriculture is once again heating up.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that resistance to the use of modified crops is declining in some regions, as farmers contemplate increased profits, and governments feel the economic pressure.
After the cost of non-genetically modified corn more than doubled, for example, Japan and Korea have “quietly” begun allowing modified corn in snacks and drinks.
In France, following a contentious debate, a bill to allow gene-altered crops passed in parliament by one vote — but can’t be enacted until the European Union lifts its ban.
The Monitor reports that Europe’s farmers and agribusiness — such as Germany’s BASF corporation, which is pushing a genetically modified potato to market — are even pondering legal action to open up continental markets to their biotech food products.
Opponents point out that there has been little research into the long-term health effects of modified crops on humans.
However, their biggest concern is the unknown biological effects on non-modified plants that will inadvertently crossbreed with modified crops due to pollination by wind, insects and birds.
The Monitor reports, however, that opposition to modified crops in Africa is mostly driven by governmental fears of diminished agricultural exports to nations that have banned biotech foodstuffs.
“Food crisis softens resistance to genetically modified (GM) food”
Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 2008