Fears about GM foods are being unnecessarily increased by the organic
farming and organic wholefood lobbies who feel their niche markets may be
threatened, the Irish head of Monsanto, Dr Patrick O'Reilly, has said.
Responding to criticism in Ireland recently about GM foods, Dr O'Reilly of
multinational chemical and biotechnology company, said the potential
benefits from the GM revolution were "far too great simply to put aside
based on fear of the new technologies".
The benefits of GM foods, he said, included foods with additional vitamins
potatoes which absorbed less fat; soya which produced less cholesterol;
fruit and vegetables which lasted longer.
On the environmental side, benefits included a reduction of about 40 per
cent in herbicide use - "which has to be good for everybody, farmer and
consumer alike". GM crops would replace the need to use many chemicals and
facilitate reduced application of others, said the firm's business manager
He added: "While I'm confident of the safety of the technology, strict
controls and monitoring must continue to be maintained. If this is done
then the development of
genetically engineered food will continue to take place with the full
confidence of the consumer."
An increase in information and awareness among the public of the facts and
benefits which could be derived from GM foods would dispel many consumer
Monsanto believed genetic engineering could be a major tool to ensure
increased food quality and quantity in the 21st century.
"We will see new strains of crops producing higher yields, adaptable to
unkind soil conditions, resistant to yet-uncontrolled pests and diseases."
In the meantime, Dr O'Reilly said, there was a need for updated
legislation, "whatever adequate labelling the consumer and Oireachtas
require" and "more factual programmes and less scare-mongering".
If all this was done, he believed the understandable fears that people have
would be assuaged and "the GM revolution can become one of the most
significant and beneficial
in the history of mankind".
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