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  • News & Commentary - Message forums

    Human Development Report Supports GM Foods
    Submitted by Martin Kucej; posted on Thursday, July 12, 2001


    ``The Human Development Report 2001, commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), concludes that many developing countries might reap great benefits from genetically-modified foods, crops, and other organisms (GMOs). While acknowledging that there are environmental and health risks that need to be addressed, it stresses the unique potential of GM techniques for creating virus resistant, drought-tolerant and nutrient-enhanced crops.

    ``The Report thus urges far greater public investment in research and development to ensure that biotechnology meets the agricultural needs of the world's poor. `We can't count on the private sector alone to do the job,' says Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, the lead author of the Report, noting that for-profit research mostly caters to the needs of high-income consumers, rather than those in developing coun-tries who have little purchasing power.

    ``For three years, sales in Europe of GM corn, tomatoes, potatoes and cotton-often described in the media as `Frankenstein foods' - have been put on hold because of fears over potential health and environmental hazards. The Human Development Report argues that GMO risks can be managed, but that most developing countries will need help in doing so. It points out that problems with biotechnology and food safety are often the result of poor policies, inadequate regulation and lack of transparency. (For instance, poor management by European regulators led to the spread of mad cow disease).

    ``According to the Report, current debates in Europe and the United States over new biotechnologies mostly ignore the concerns and needs of the developing world. Western consumers naturally focus on potential allergic reactions and other food safety issues. People in developing countries, however, may be more interested in better crop yields, nutrition, or the reduced need to spray pesticides that can sicken farmers.''


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