The Listener has an extensive special section this week on genetically modified foods, leading with a cover story on a visit by US science advisor Nina Fedoroff, a prominent advocate for the technology. The article outlines her views that humans have always genetically ‘modified’ crops — through breeding and selective cultivation of random mutations — and that modern techniques to alter single plant genes in isolation are a vast improvement over previous generations’ efforts. An excerpt:
“She’s the guru of genetic modification, one of the most powerful voices in the world advocating the use of GM plants. And in the past week, Nina Fedoroff – science adviser to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – has been in New Zealand talking to our plant and food scientists, pushing her message that the world’s food problems could be solved if we would all simply get over our fear of so-called Frankenfood and embrace GM crops.
“In a world where a billion people already go hungry each year and the demand for food and the number of people starving are expected to at least double by 2050, she is one of the leading campaigners trying to tear down the taboo against GM foods.”
It follows up with a feature on GE foods in everyday products in New Zealand…
“New Zealanders are now consuming food with genetically modified ingredients almost every day – and most of us don’t know it.
“Green Party food spokeswoman Sue Kedgley says 37 GE food items have been approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for use in New Zealand, with at least another eight awaiting approval. The approvals are mainly for corn, canola and soy products – ingredients used in many processed foods.
“As a result, Kedgley says, it is “highly likely” as we drink a soy latte and munch on a cake or biscuit that we are eating something with a genetically engineered ingredient in it – but it’s “impossible” to tell.”
…and a companion feature on disputes in Europe over the need for GM technologies to feed the world’s hungry.