Weigh the evidence on GM crops
The Times, 15 August 2008

Has any conclusive evidence been found that GM crops increase yields?

Sir, It is not surprising that scientists working on GM crop research should attack the Prince of Wales ("Scientists line up to condemn 'ill-informed, negative' Prince", Aug 14). But your report ignored the most relevant research on the role of science and technology in agriculture that was published this year.

The UN International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), written by 400 scientists and backed by 60 governments, found no conclusive evidence that GM crops increase yields. In fact, the scientists were so unconvinced about the role of GM crops in meeting future food needs that the pro-GM US Government refused to endorse the report, and the biotechnology industry pulled out of the process, despite having provided substantial funding at the outset.

The report stated that yield gains achieved through industrialised farming have come at an unacceptable environmental and social cost. Prince Charles has identified that GM crops will exacerbate these problems. It is now time for governments to act on the IAASTD’s findings and work for a radical shift towards local sustainable solutions for communities around the world, by combining the latest research with traditional knowledge.

Clare Oxborrow
GM campaigner, Friends of the Earth

Sir, The Prince of Wales did not say that the problems emanating from overreliance on intensive farming methods during the Green Revolution in Punjab or exacerbating soil salinity in Australia stemmed from GM crops, but that these represented the latest manifestation of industrial agriculture’s overreliance on technological inputs to overwhelm natural resource limits, rather than following sustainable techniques which seek to work in balance with those limits.

Robin Maynard
Campaigns Director, Soil Association