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Are GM crops safe?
By A Corner-Cutter
There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about GM crops and whether they are safe. In my essay I’m going to say that it is wise at the moment not to go ahead with these crops, but it may be ok in the future. However, it is important to distinguish between unwanted environmental changes attributable to a transgene and those caused by other aspects of a dynamic agro-environment (Furlong and Gallen, 2004).
A number of well-documented cases show the dangers of GM. In 2000, a GM corn meant for consumption by animals, cross-pollinated with corn destined for Taco Bell taco shells. Despite a rapid recall of the tainted corn products, at least 44 people claim to have gotten ill after the Starlink contaminated corn, suffering from rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, itching and life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Some people raise issues of ‘naturalness’ as a way of expressing disquiet about what GM means for our relationship with the natural world. They may admit that we already live with considerable human intervention in the environment, but see GM as ‘step too far’. For others it may be the presence of animal genes or of even any gene that could not have reached its destination through ‘conventional’ breeding techniques. (1)
Further concerns are raised about the possibility genes escaping from modified crops into other plants and maybe making ‘superweeds’ (see, for example, Hughes and Bryant, 2002). Are we likely to faced by a future in which previously weak.