The GM controversy: flabbergasted by theory.

Author:Stossel, Thomas P.
Position:THIS MONTH'S PRIZE LETTER - Genetically modified crops - Letter to the Editor

I was flabbergasted to see the cautionary cover story of the December issue of African Business concerning genetically modified (GM) crops. Such articles are a luxury we afford anti-business cranks in my country, which enjoys the benefits of GM crops, but it is truly strange to see such material in an African business magazine (the next article extolled the private sector).

And, more importantly, providing health care in Zambian orphanages during the past month, I met a senior official of the Zambian National Service who told me that hunger is a major problem in his country. Yet evidently Zambia takes seriously the concerns expressed in your article and forbids GM crops. Why would a business publication devoted to African development encourage such a policy?

The article invokes an "in depth report by a group of independent scientists" who are raising dire concerns about the possible dangers of GM crops. Who are these "independent scientists", and are these dangers real? The author of the report is an employee of an advocacy organisation that passionately opposes GM foods. The fact that this organisation has no business connections (no surprise there) makes it no more objective or "independent" than any fundamentalist sect.

The sway of anti-GM ideology in UK and Europe reflects interesting cultural differences between these countries and the US. But culture aside, there is a simple reason to reject the premise of this article.

In my travels in Zambia, I saw and rode in motor vehicles, many in far less than...

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