Ever since the early 1990s claims have been made that GM food would be just as safe as conventional food, and that it's only because of campaigns of (mainly European NGOs) that consumers would just be to scared to eat it. Consumers who would be informed properly would not avoid GM food. To prove this point Douglas Powell, a Canadian scientist wanted to see whether consumers would prefer GM or conventional sweet corn. In to their scientific paper in the British Food Journal (105: 700, 2003) they described that the bins were "fully labeled" - either "genetically engineered Bt sweet corn" or "Regular sweet-corn", and they explain in detail how they made sure that buyers would not be biased, for example by regularly refilling the binsto the same level. The study itself is rather simplistic: giving consumers the choice in one shop for a few weeks to buy one or the other product without any controls or repetions, and without any control over what information the shop personal might give out already leaves a lot of room for improvement. One might wonder whether biologists are the best suited scientists to study shopping behaviour. In the end Powell et al. found that in a farm shop in Canada GM sweet corn even out-sold the conventional.

[img_assist|nid=110|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]Ever since the early 1990s claims have been made that GM food would be just as safe as conventional food, and that it's only because of campaigns of (mainly European NGOs) that consumers would just be to scared to eat it. Consumers who would be informed properly would not avoid GM food. To prove this point Douglas Powell, a Canadian scientist wanted to see whether consumers would prefer GM or conventional sweet corn.

[img_assist|nid=107|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]After years of arguments the German government finally decided on changes on a number of regulations for GM crops. What's hailed as an improvement in fact makes matters worse and some of the pressing issues have still not been tackled. What made it to the main TV news was that GM maize now should be planted 150 m away from conventional maize, or 300 m from organic maize. Or less if the GM farmer makes an agreement with his neighbours.

[img_assist|nid=107|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]After years of arguments the German government finally decided on changes on a number of regulations for GM crops. What's hailed as an improvement in fact makes matters worse and some of the pressing issues have still not been tackled. What made it to the main TV news was that GM maize now should be planted 150 m away from conventional maize, or 300 m from organic maize. Or less if the GM farmer makes an agreement with his neighbours. It doesn't take much imagination to picture the pressure that can mount in a village if one farmer wants to grow GM maize... But it also means that their neighbours will have to label any kind of GM contamination, even below 0.9% because agreeing to a lesser safety distance clearly could technically been avoided. >>>

And then there is a longer distance for organic farmers. Why would that be needed if 150 m are considered far enough to avoid contamination. The answer is simply that in fact it is not considered enough to avoid any contamination, but those wanting to grow GM crops simply bank on the labelling regulation that allows contamination below 0.9% to stay unlabelled, claiming that there would be no damage to non-GM farmers if contamination would be lower then that. But in fact processors and other customers are likely to only purchase GM maize with lower contamination, just to stay on the safe side.

Other changes are equally bad: Specific groups of plants might be taken out of the regulation, even if the the so-called "closed system" in which they are grown would be open fields. Field trials would thereby by less regulated then crops approved for cultivation, food and feed by the EU.

[img_assist|nid=111|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=43]Since it became common knowledge that fossil oil supplies won't stretch endlessly, a hectic search started for other sources of oil. Especially the debate about so-called 'biofuels' or 'agrofuels' was high on the agenda in the last months, even though problems become obvious. GM agrofuels will also bring their own problems.

A. Lorch, GID 182, June 2007.

[img_assist|nid=111|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]With climate change high on the agenda, agrofuels are suddenly the focus the search for new energy sources because replacing fossile fuels with agrofuels would mean continues business for oilcompanies without the need to change infrastructures like gas stations. But there are a number of serious inherent problems mainly the loss of food security and an increase in monocultures.

[img_assist|nid=111|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]With climate change high on the agenda, agrofuels are suddenly the focus the search for new energy sources because replacing fossile fuels with agrofuels would mean continues business for oilcompanies without the need to change infrastructures like gas stations. But there are a number of serious inherent problems mainly the loss of food security and an increase in monocultures.

[img_assist|nid=225|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]The good news is that yesterday, the EU Agricultural Minister meeting failed to give approval for the cultivation of BASF's GM starch potato Amflora. 10 years along the line of the de-facto moratorium against GM crops and still there is no new approval given for cultivation. The bad news is that once again, there was no qualified majority to reject it and the decision now lies with the EU Commission who is likely to approve of it.

[img_assist|nid=108|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]The good news is that yesterday, the EU Agricultural Minister meeting failed to give approval for the cultivation of BASF's GM starch potato Amflora. 10 years along the line of the de-facto moratorium against GM crops and still there is no new approval given for cultivation. The bad news is that once again, there was no qualified majority to reject it and the decision now lies with the EU Commission who is likely to approve of it.

[img_assist|nid=108|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]Just two weeks ago, the EU environmental ministers postponed their decision on the cultivation of BASF's GM starch potato Amflora. Instead the decision has now been put on the agenda of the agricultural ministers this coming Monday. It appears that the EU Commission is determined to get this GM potato approved, and also to get the first cultivation approval since 1998 and the moratorium.

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