GM food: Society could learn from BSE and CJD

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 The information for this presentation was obtained from:


(1) The Los Angeles Times (2000) for details on Growth Hormone CJD.  
Or scroll down when using the next link; or see 'A wonder drug that carried the seeds of death'.
 
(2) The Guardian, 1999, for details on BSE in the United Kingdom. 

(3) The Food Magazine 2000:  'Using cattle glands for human drugs'.
 
(4) An article on Mary Shelley.

This presentation explains how public policy, regarding GM food, could be informed by the case of 'growth hormone' CJD. Science policy needs to make sure that warnings regarding the safety of GM food are noted and acted upon. Apparently warnings over thalidomide were acted upon in America but not in Britain. 

Scientists need to be made responsible for their actions so that public safety is not compromised. 'Growth hormone' CJD has set a dangerous precedent for the introduction of genetically modified food. The public should be cautious about new technology. For example, that which mixes genes from animals (say a horse) with plants (say an apple tree). 
 
A former science minister called for a new GM (food) debate in the U.K. in September 2010.

Such a debate could be informed by the British government's handling of BSE and CJD between 1980 and 2010. 

 

Further Commentary on GM food and BSE
 

 

A UK supermarket executive suggested that the food industry should stand by the science" regarding GM food.

It is worth discussing what it is meant by 'the science'.

It could imply that there is a single or universal understanding of science. The problem is that science is open to interpretation. In the context of CJD, there are different statements over sporadic CJD and variant CJD.

 

A former chair of the U.K. Food Standards Agency is quoted as saying that there has been "European prissiness about genetic modification".  Such consumer caution can be justified in the context of avoiding another BSE situation. Policy-makers would do well to acknowledge that BSE has influenced attitudes towards GM food.  
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