The concept of genetically modified (GM) foods continues to cause a global divide: some see them as a potential savior to sustenance-strapped countries while others view these products as further evidence that science has gone too far.
In addition, while some countries have bans or strict laws about the use and development of such foods, others readily use the products to feed the growing population.
BBC News reported recently that the UK is looking to reverse its practices regarding growing these foods – right now, no GM crops have been grown commercially in the British countryside. They’re not illegal, but such foods have, until recently, lacked public support.
According to the news outlet, a recent report from the Agricultural Biotechnology Council outlined how the UK is preparing for significant investment in agricultural research and GM foods.
“The fact is that we’re not making any more land. If we’re going to feed a growing population, raise the poorest out of poverty and address these problems of food security, then in some cases GM may actually be the answer. We’ve got to look for a significant and sustainable intensification of agriculture,” said the British government’s chief scientist Sir John Beddington.
This push for genetically modified foods could, depending on the rate of acceptance, boost biotech stocks, which may benefit from companies looking to grow crops through government-sponsored programs. Britain is not the only country moving forward with genetically modified organisms, as Pakistan recently made a similar move.
According to The Express Tribune, the issue of food security is being addressed by the Pakistani government, which is looking to feed the growing population in the Asian nation. Participants at a recent seminar there urged the government to promote biotechnology and genetically modified crops to help sustain the population growth, especially due to the increasing strain placed on the country’s land and water resources.
In the US, where an estimated 70% of food on supermarket shelves includes traces of GM crops, the battle is being waged on getting labels placed on such items. California has placed a referendum on its ballot for November that could make it the first US state to require GM foods to be labeled. British newspaper (The Guardian has reported this is already required in 40 countries in Europe, in Brazil, and even in China).
Are genetically modified foods the wave of the future or will health and labeling concerns slow or reverse their adoption?