GM Jam Tomorrow Is Not a Sound Foundation for Food Security
Immediate release (10 Aug 2009)
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065 or 0845 217 8992
GM Freeze welcomed Defra’s review of future food security in the UK, but warned that politicians should not rely on unproven GM technology to solve future problems and called instead for a big increase in funding for alternative approaches to build a world class agroecological research base in the UK. The group also warned that social, economic and political reforms were needed if future food crises in the world were to be avoided.
Last month GM Freeze published a review of DFID’s funding of agricultural research and development for the Global South.  The report showed that DFID is taking research down a “blind alley” by placing too much emphasis on intensive large-scale farming systems, including GM crops, which are far too reliant on finite resources, such as oil and phosphate. The report pointed out that past reliance on artificial fertilizers and pesticides, along with improvements to plant varieties, may have increased yields but had also created a new set of problems including water pollution, loss of biodiversity and increasing price volatility.
GM Freeze wants to see a significant shift in research and development towards agroecological research to enable farmers to produce food that is both affordable and sustainable. A shortage of scientists with key skills needed for sustainable farming in the future, for example soil scientists and microbiologists, was highlighted by a recent BBSRC consultation. 
The Government also needs focus policies far more on food sovereignty , rather than the model of export agriculture and free markets currently in favour.
Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
We welcome Defra’s attention on food security – this has been neglected for far too long. It is vital the UK funds research aimed at enabling farmers to produce affordable food that is needed for a healthy planet and people.
Ministers must avoid being taken in by claims that GM crops are solutions, because there is very little evidence that promises of drought tolerant, salt tolerant or high yielding crops produced using genetic modification will be fulfilled. GM proponents are always offering ‘jam tomorrow’, and politicians need to be very careful about overreliance on GM crops to solve problems.
Agroecological systems are designed to work within natural ecosystems by improving the management of natural resources such as the soil and water. Britain should lead the way in providing an agroecological research base – a centre from which farmers all over the world can share and learn from both practical and scientific knowledge developed over millennia to produce food that is needed in the 21st century.
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065 or 0845 217 8992.
Notes Blind Alley is available here.  See www.bbsrc.ac.uk/organisation/policies/reviews/consultations/0905_food_security_consultation.pdf
paragraph 32.  Food Sovereignty is “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation”.