Genetic Engineering and the UK's Quandary
Published: 02 Jun 2016
In theory, genetically modified foods make excellent sense—the idea of a crop that can survive extreme conditions and produce higher yields has to be considered a solution to the growing scarcity of food in the developing world. GM crops require less land, less pesticides and less fertiliser. Yet around the world GM is considered a dirty word—less a solution to a problem and more a sign of man's hubris and meddling in nature. In an open letter to the European Parliament, many scientists have argued that the current restrictions on the proliferation of GM crops are not based in science or fact but rather due to political reasons.
Part of the problem is public perception—because of ungrounded fears that emerged on the advent of genetically modified crops in the 80's many people still believe that GM crops are dangerous to humans or damaging to the environment. Neither claim holds water when examined scientifically and no study has shown that GM crops are in any way harmful to health. Scientists simply don't have the political nous or the resources to affect the change in thinking required at the public level—so require politicians to force the agenda, something that few so far in the European Parliament have been willing to do. This may be about to change, however, with the news that a group of US scientists have proved GM crops are not dangerous. Which is probably good news, since much of the soy that goes into animal food is genetically modified.
Another issue for the UK is that although GM crops may not be dangerous, there is possible evidence that they do not produce significantly higher yields than natural crops. Considering our beautiful country does not suffer from regular extreme weather conditions and much of our arable land is in good condition, it raises the question of whether the UK actually needs GM crops at all. The focus should be on GM crops as a defence against the likes of blight or as a way of reducing the volume of chemicals used in farming that adversely affect the environment. This is particularly important when it comes to eutrophication, a common sight in the English countryside—where fertilisers have overstimulated algae and killed wildlife as a result.
The food industry is taking research into GM crops very seriously, and if this is something you are passionate about perhaps consider a job in the food industry so that you can make a difference in this important discussion. The UK can consider itself at a crossroads, and decisions need to be made throughout the business of food manufacturing and transport. There are all sorts of positions in the industry, from technologists to designers to scientists. If your personal focus is on whether GM crops can be as tasty and used as interestingly as their natural counterparts, perhaps your calling is more to the chef side of things. Yourfoodjob.com has an exhaustive list of food jobs available. The hard work of trying to find specific jobs in the industry is done for you, enabling you to focus your search and find the job you really want.
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