GM balance

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Professor Carlo Leifert (Letters, 20 August) claims there is no commercial benefit to farmers for using GM crops.

The largest GM crop meta-analysis, published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) in 2014, shows that GM technology adoption has reduced pesticide use by 37 per cent, increased crop yields by 22 per cent and increased farm profits by 68 per cent.

It is no surprise that, being a member of the organic (ecological) community that ideologically rejects biotechnology, he claims that GM food safety testing is in some unspecified way flawed, something independent scientific opinion rejects outright. But this claim is an attempt to divert attention from the failings of the organic industry.

In Hamburg in 2011, 54 died and thousands suffered kidney damage, usually permanent, from eating organic seedlings. In 1996 a well-reported case established both infant death and injury from eating organic parsley.

Other cases of contamination and sickness from animal manure are to be found in the medical literature. Not one single case of hazard has yet to be placed at the foot of GM crops, a tribute to the years of investigation such crops receive before use.

Herbicide-resistant GM crops enable farmers to use no-till agriculture whose GHG emissions are half that of organic agriculture and whose wild life diversity surpasses that of any organic farm.

The Eco-modernist Manifesto exposes low-yielding agriculture as simply land wasting, used to fulfil a flawed ideology that can never approach the need that university scientists like myself see as provision of sufficient food for the projected nine billion to come by 2050.

GM technology is a component of sustainable intensification and good scientific enterprise uses all safe technologies without prejudice something the organic community has yet to learn.

(Prof) Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE

Scientific Alliance