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Matt Ridley: “Opposing GM crops is allowing millions of unnecessary deaths”

In his column in today’s The Times, scientist and journalist Matt Ridley explains why opposing GM crops could “kill kids”.

Opening his article with “It was over harlequin ducks that we bonded”, Matt recalls his first meeting, ten years ago, with the German Biologist Ingo Potrykus. Four years previously, with colleague Peter Beyer, Ingo had potentially found a remedy to “one of the most preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in poor countries.”

With a purely humanitarian aim, the two men persuaded companies to give away their Golden Rice for free. By adding three genes to the 30,000 already existing in rice they succeeded in preventing the vitamin A deficiency that millions die of every year. However, Greenpeace’s campaigning over the past ten years to block its creation means that “perhaps 20 million children had died in the meantime.”

Matt notes that since Owen Paterson became the first European Agriculture Minister to endorse GM crops, no one has researched to understand GM fully. He explains the facts and how substituting Golden Rice for normal rice could literally save lives.

It is also interesting to read Matt’s arguments to counter the objections by Greenpeace which have slowed the production of Golden Rice taking off. He discusses a recent incident when the organiser of a test feeding Golden Rice to Chinese children did not tell their parents that GM foods were involved.  Despite no harm being done, or having the potential to occur, “Greenpeace had just what it wanted: a scandal about golden rice.” Matt believes that the greens are desperate to stop Golden Rice because it undermines their criticisms of GM food – it is non-profit, nutritionally enhancing and of more value to the poor than rich.

Matt’s concluding comparisons between GM and organic farming are particularly fascinating.

Click here to read the article in full

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