More lies and half-truths in the interest of promoting GMOs

Below is an example of the usual misleading nonsense from GMO proponent Anthony Trewavas, of the Scientific Alliance. Trewavas says because a bacterium inserted its genes into the sweet potato at some point in history, anyone who’s eaten a sweet potato has eaten a GMO meal and thus we shouldn’t worry about GMO safety.

But the following articles from GMWatch tell the truth about the “naturally GMO” sweet potato, as explained by scientists who are interested in educating the public rather than pulling the wool over their eyes:
Nature’s GM sweet potato and the rock from space
Sweet potato genetically engineered by nature – or spin worthy of Goebbels?

The bottom line is that the naturally GMO sweet potato has co-evolved with humans over many hundreds of years and has a history of safe use. Its safety has been ensured through a long process of natural selection. This proves nothing about the safety of current GMO foods rapidly engineered in the laboratory.

You can read more about what Trewavas  and the Scientific Alliance have got up to in order to promote GMOs and other dubious technologies and and to denigrate organics on the Powerbase website. For example, Trewavas was named in the High Court in London as the source of a letter making libellous allegations against Peter Melchett and Greenpeace in relation to organic farming and GM foods.

Eaten sweet potato? Then you’ve had a GM meal

Professor Anthony Trewavas
The Guardian, 22 Oct 2015

The sweet potato (commonly called a yam) is a familiar vegetable on our supermarket shelves and it is indeed an achievement to grow the sweet potato in the UK (British farmers crack the sweet potato, 18 October). The sweet potato is eaten by some billion people worldwide and is high in vitamins A and C and fibre as well as starch.

If you too have eaten sweet potato you have eaten your first GM meal. Some 8,000 years ago a bacterium (Agrobacterium) inserted two of its genes into the original sweet potato DNA thus producing a GM sweet potato. These genes have been detected in some 300 varieties of “yam”; they are expressed and cause tissues like the root to swell. Domestication was probably based on root size and thus continued propagation of its GM variety.

This information will not bother those who place evidence before ideology, who will continue to enjoy its consumption. But its cultivation and human consumption worldwide for thousands of years radically changes the nature of the GM debate here. The GM genes have not been found in any close relatives. The sweet potato originated in South America under obviously clean, green and organic conditions.

Difficulties for organic regulations as to its characterisation, or supposition that cultivation could contaminate organic farms, or views about areas best left to God are obvious. Further difficulties for banning GM crops in Europe emerge, since how should it be characterised? Furthermore, this natural product legitimises human use of GM technology as an aid to increase yield with a concomitant reduction in land use.

Professor Anthony Trewavas
Scientific Alliance Scotland