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Genetically Modified Food and Crops

GM nation Report

image Published: Apr 13, 2004

Genetically modified crops and food remain one of the most controversial issues of recent times. In 1993, long before ‘GM’ became a public issue, SRT brought together a working group of experts in GM research, ethics, sociology, agriculture, risk and animal welfare, in a far-reaching five year study on the ethics of genetic engineering in crops and animals. Our resulting book Engineering Genesis proved very timely in 1998, and was widely acclaimed for its informed and balanced insights by both sides of a now rapidly polarising public debate. Based on these findings, the SRT Project presented a detailed report to the 1999 General Assembly, taking an intermediate position. The Assembly did not oppose the use of GM food and crops as such and saw some potential benefits. But it was highly critical of the behaviour of multi-national companies in thrusting GM imports into Europe without labelling or segregation, of the commercially driven priorities of the technology, of spurious claims to “feed the world”, and of the dismissal of emerging public concerns by the UK Government and EU.

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GM nation

image Published: Nov 13, 2003

Should we become a GM Nation? is the title of a new Church of Scotland report just released for debate at the General Assembly on 18 May. It is written by the Kirk’s own Society, Religion and Technology Project (SRT), which has pioneered the examination of ethical and social issues of GM since 1993 in its seminal study Engineering Genesis. The new report argues that although GM is not wrong in itself, the Government should not have given the go-ahead last month for herbicide tolerant GM maize to be grown commercially in the UK. “Given the current strength of public opinion revealed in last summer’s official public consultation, and the continuing uncertainties about environmental impacts, these are the wrong type of GM crops at the wrong time,” says the SRT Project Director, Dr Donald Bruce.

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Biotechnology Ethics

image Published: Sep 03, 2001

Future technological developments concerning food, agriculture and the environment face a gulf of social legitimation from a sceptical public and media, in the wake of the crises of BSE, GM food, and foot and mouth disease in the UK. There is distrust of the bioindustry, the regulatory system and the assurances of Government. This paper examines agricultural biotechnology in terms of a social contract, assessing the conditions which would be necessary to re-establish a measure of public trust against a climate of suspicion. A vital factor is how far new shared visions can be found for future developments in this field.

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