What use is GM food?
From Martyn Woolf
FRIDAY JULY 27 2001
Sir, The failure of this year’s wheat harvest and the resultant increase in price on world grain markets (report, July 23; see also letter, July 24) highlights yet again that we do not need genetically modified higher-yielding crops. We need water.
There is food aplenty, so much so that in Europe we pay ever increasing sums to farmers not to grow it and in many parts of the world food is still burnt. The food shortages in the Horn of Africa can be alleviated by better transport, drought in Sudan by better supply of water, and so on.
Higher-yielding seeds at higher prices will not help a Gujarati peasant already in hock to his local seed supplier. The current seed is fine if there is moisture enough to grow it.
The sums being spent to produce GM foodstuffs will not help the poor. If the same amounts of money were utilised to improve transport systems or to fund decent irrigation systems that do not require the destruction of people’s homes, the poor would certainly benefit. Perhaps major corporations cannot see the economic benefits for themselves in carrying out the necessary research.Yours faithfully, MARTYN WOOLF, 75 West Heath Road, NW3 7TH. July 24.