For a generation, a campaign by the green movement against the growing of genetically modified crops has held sway across Europe. These foodstuffs are a threat to health, the environment and the small independent farmer, NGOs have argued.
As result, virtually no GM crops have been grown on Europe’s farms for the past 25 years. Yet hard evidence to support what is, in all but name, a ban on these vilified forms of plant life is thin on the ground. In fact, most scientific reports have indicated that they are generally safe, both to humans and the environment.
This point was endorsed last week when a 20-strong committee of experts from the US National Academies of Science announced the results of its trawl of three decades of scientific studies for “persuasive evidence of adverse health effects directly attributable to consumption of foods derived from genetically engineered crops”. It found none.
Instead the group uncovered evidence that GM crops have the potential to bestow considerable health benefits. An example is provided by golden rice, a genetically modified rice that contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. Its use could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency in the third world, say scientists.
Scientists and governments around the world overwhelmingly agree that climate change is real, is largely human-induced and needs urgent action to prevent.
There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities (such as burning fossil fuels), and if left un-checked will likely have disastrous consequences.
Furthermore, there is solid scientific evidence that we should act now on climate change – and this is reflected in the statements by these definitive scientific authorities.