European opposition to biotech crops has no scientific basis and will cost the continent dearly in biodiversity, land preservation, and adaptation to global warming, according to four Swedish scientists who say the European Union’s approval process has been captured by special interests who “demonize” agricultural biotechnology.
“Lobbyists who benefit from demonizing GM crops are not the ones who have to carry the costs,” the quartet wrote in EMBO Reports, published by Nature for the European Molecular Biology Organization. “It is not the hyped risks of GM crops that are a problem in the EU, it is the submissive attitude of politicians and policymakers towards organizations who insist that GM crops are risky. It is then ordinary consumers who pay the costs and do not receive the benefits.”
Growing biotech crops, with their greater yields, would allow surplus land to be used for “refuges to promote biodiversity in the farming landscape,” they wrote. Global warming will probably give northern Europe a warmer, wetter climate, bringing more insect pests, fungal pathogens, and alien species, they warn, noting, “Not adopting modern breeding tools - including biotechnology - will probably hamper the European agricultural systems facing a warmer and more variable climate.”
Torbjörn Fagerström, Christina Dixelius, Ulf Magnusson and Jens F Sundström of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences point out that Europe’s scientific agencies have repeatedly found that biotech crops pose no greater risk than those developed by conventional breeding, but approval is blocked by countries voting “irrespective of the scientific opinion.”
“The scientific community has already settled the relevant questions regarding potential risks associated with GM crops approved under legislation,” they wrote. “What is going on is a political game. In this game, the so-called precautionary principle is used, in absurdum, to delay any launch of a GM crop far beyond the limit of reasonable scientific doubts.” Read more.