NZSM Online

Get TurboNote+ desktop sticky notes

Interclue makes your browsing smarter, faster, more informative

SciTech Daily Review

Webcentre Ltd: Web solutions, Smart software, Quality graphics


Hindered by Misinformation

If I hear any further pronouncements from so-called experts among the politicians riding the genetically modified food bandwagon I will scream! It is true that many New Zealanders are a little uneasy about genetically modified (GM) foods. Some people do not understand the processes involved. A few are against anything new. One hopes that these people have been persuaded to give up their horses and are now happy to use a motor car.

Other people are concerned that the Americans have already decided that these processes and foods are safe. Any nation that can inflict cola and hamburgers on the world needs to be watched carefully! Don't forget the US brought in regulations to control GM food in 1992 and decided not to label food that was "substantially equivalent" to existing foods. The European Union followed suit in 1994. New Zealand scientists were trying to make the politicians aware of these issues as early as 1992. Why should it be a problem for us now?

One of the problems is that those who should know about this issue, nutritionists and food scientists, have been amazingly quiet. Why? Nutritionists should be able to point out that mankind has modified plants and animals for food for thousands of years. Nobody complained about the better quality and increased production of these brave new foods. It's the technique that concerns people.

These new foods should be embraced by concerned politicians as they will not need to be treated with so many toxic sprays to kill fungi and bugs. GM food will be greener!

It is true that some unknown changes may be introduced in these new foods. It is a significant challenge to test for the unknown. It is in the food industry's interest to make sure that these foods are as safe as possible. Rremember that most of the companies in the food industry are interested in making a profit well into the next century. If they get it wrong it will cost them dearly.

I have great confidence in my digestive system to degrade even the dullest hamburger. If my digestive enzymes are unable to degrade all these proteins and DNA, I have confidence that bacteria at the local sewage farm will love to have a go at it! I am not sure that my brain can cope with so many dull politicians.

Dr Geoffrey Savage, Senior Lecturer in Food Biochemistry, Lincoln University