Are dom­i­nant views still preva­lent?

Franklin County News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JOHN ALLEN

Brazil. Fondly re­garded for its en­er­getic, fun-loving peo­ple, its lively mu­sic, beau­ti­ful beaches and var­ied wildlife.

Per­haps less fondly, Brazil is also known for its po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion and rain­for­est des­e­cra­tion.

We watched the magnificent opening and clos­ing cer­e­monies of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

And then we re­called the furore around the state of readi­ness of the ath­lete’s fa­cil­i­ties. That is Brazil, so many con­trasts, so much wax­ing and wan­ing.

Those con­trasts were again high­lighted for me in a book pub­lished last week by the Brazil­ian Min­istry of Agrar­ian De­vel­op­ment - an ex­plo­ration of re­search on the risks of re­leas­ing ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered plants to the wild.

Which con­trasts with Brazil be­ing the world’s sec­ond largest pro­ducer of trans­genic plants.

Could it be that Brazil has rea­son to re­think its ac­cep­tance of GE plants?

The book, Trans­genic crops haz­ards and un­cer­tain­ties: More than 750 stud­ies dis­re­garded by the GMOs reg­u­la­tory bod­ies, con­cludes that a mora­to­rium on the cul­ti­va­tion and con­sump­tion of trans­genic plants, is jus­ti­fied.

The au­thor’s fo­cus is on ‘‘the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing bio­di­ver­sity, safety and food sovereignty, and sus­tain­able ru­ral de­vel­op­ment’’.

So yes, there is a re­think go­ing on in Brazil. Ex­posed are the poor sci­ence and the neg­li­gence of reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties who’s pur­pose is to pro­tect pub­lic health.

This ex­po­sure ap­plies not only to Brazil, but in other coun­tries that have al­lowed GM crops and foods into its food sup­ply and farm­ing sys­tems.

New Zealand is ref­er­enced five times in this book.

One study cov­ered, sug­gests that thresh­old lev­els of glyphosate cur­rently set by reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties do not ad­e­quately pro­tect fresh­wa­ter ecosys­tems.

Another ex­plored how our food safety reg­u­la­tor con­sid­ered GMOs within their risk as­sess­ment frame­work.

Another used the con­tam­i­na­tion of the New Zealand corn crop with GMOs, as a case study for the ap­pli­ca­tion of mon­i­tor­ing tools and their vul­ner­a­bil­ity to er­rors. It found (in 2004) that those tools failed to meet then emerg­ing food safety re­quire­ments.

The book does not claim to be an ex­haus­tive re­view of the sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture that points to risks and un­cer­tain­ties around the use of GMO plants.

But 750 pub­lished ar­ti­cles that con­tra­dict some as­pects of the dom­i­nant view held by reg­u­la­tory agen­cies, is an in­dict­ment of those agen­cies past be­hav­iours.

What re­mains to be seen, and re­quir­ing vig­i­lance, is whether that dom­i­nant view is still preva­lent.

John Allen is the di­rec­tor of Ru­ral Con­nect


Let­ters should not ex­ceed 250 words and must have full name, res­i­den­tial ad­dress and phone number. The edi­tor re­serves the right to abridge or with­hold any cor­re­spon­dence with­out ex­pla­na­tion. Let­ter may be edited. Write to Let­ters to the Edi­tor, Franklin County News, PO Box 14, Pukekohe or email julie.kaio@fair­fax­me­ with your views.

John Allen

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