Don't need GM to improve our diet
1.Letters in The Guardian
2.Comments to The Times
Original Guardian article:
1.We don't need genetically modified crops to improve our diet
The Guardian (Letters), November 20 2007 http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,2213733,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=science
It is a shame your article didn't dig a little deeper into industry claims over GM nutrient-enhanced crops (GM plants that produce fish oils could help fight heart disease, November 16). A key reason for the low levels of nutrients in our diets is the excessive processing carried out by food companies. But if the food industry was serious about tackling diet-related health problems, it would commit to cutting down on the high levels of salt, sugar and fat in our food rather than investing in expensive, and unproven, GM solutions.
In the drive to produce ever-cheaper food, the food and GM industries have contributed significantly to health and environmental problems. Now they want to profit further from a techno-fix solution to these problems. This research is just another attempt to convince the public to accept GM food rather than a genuine effort to tackle the consequences of our diets.
Food campaigner, Friends of the Earth
Surely feeding animals crops that have been enhanced with genes from algae is a convoluted way of consuming omega-3 fatty acids. It makes far more sense to eat plant sources directly. Scientific studies show that the richest sources of omega-3 fats can be found in seed oils such as linseed and rapeseed, as well as soya oil, seeds, nuts and leafy vegetables such as spinach. Plant oils are twice as effective as fish oils at reducing the risk of a secondary heart attack. Not surprising, then, that those who consume a plant-based diet suffer less diet-related diseases than meat eaters.
Campaigns officer, Animal Aid
Unilever and the German biotech company BASF Plant Sciences are partners in the European Lipgene project. The food industry is simply copying the tobacco industry's old tactics when it suggests that genetically engineering healthy oils into the food chain will tackle the epidemic of obesity. GM crops with altered oils or nutrients could harm health or the environment. Unlike supplements or processed foods they cannot be recalled if anything goes wrong.
Dr Helen Wallace
Director GeneWatch UK
A significant contributing factor in rising heart disease, especially in low-income families, is a lack of knowledge about healthy diet. The long-term effects of GM plant production on human health are as yet unknown. Mercury levels in fish are an indicator that marine pollution is reaching dangerous levels. Surely this shows we should stop playing with nature. We must adopt a long-term approach to renew the planet's natural balance through education of individuals and by lobbying political players, instead of being driven by profit-based mechanisms that benefit few and cause irreparable damage to our planet.
2.Some comments posted on The Times website
The problem with this article, as is so often the case with reporting on genetic engineering (GE), is what is left unsaid by Prof. Napier. There are many excellent vegetable sources of the omega3 fatty acid ALA (especially good ones are flax seed and several tree nuts), which the body may then convert to the needed types of omega3. The problem is that we sometimes consume too much of omega6 fatty acids, which slow the conversion process. This may be remedied by simple dietary changes. But I suppose common sense is more difficult for GE corporations to sell.
Doug Gurian-Sherman, Ph.D., Washington, DC
'No alternative'? - rubbish!! There is no shortage of Herring or Mackrel in the UK - it's a vastly underexploited resource and it would be far better to encourage people to eat more of it, which would help our beleagured local fishing industry too, rather than mess about with the basic building blocks of our food-chain, with no real idea of where it will lead us.
John Willis, Edinburgh, Scotland
Force feed gm concentrates to these fools for two years and if there is no reaction i may just and i mean just consider eating a tiny amount, ps and i farm 1020 acres p w johnstone, aberdeenshire, uk
So what about the generations of humans who didn't live near the sea or whose communities didn't do fishing? What did they do for Omega3?
Inge Jones, London, UK