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Opposition to GMO crops 'a form of madness'

The craziness surrounding genetically modified crops continues apace — despite more and more and more scientific evidence that concern about their safety in foods is baseless.

Not content with media campaigns, public protests and political pressure, anti-GMO zealots in early August invaded a research compound at the Philippine Department of Agriculture, overwhelmed security and destroyed field trials of “Golden Rice,” the genetically modified strain rich in a Vitamin A component that scientists say can prevent blindness in millions of poor children (half of whom die within a year).

The rice has been ready for production for decade or more, but farmers still cannot grow it because of regulatory roadblocks and demands for further testing.

While adults fight their silly battles, 1.9 to 2.8 million kids, many in poverty-stricken regions, are hungry, go blind, or die each year.

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In the U.S., in western states, millions of dollars are being spent by opponents and proponents of measures that would, by July 1, 2015, force labeling of foods that contain GMO ingredients.

Opponents say there is no evidence that GMO ingredients pose any health risk and that labeling would make already expensive food cost even more, while proponents contend the cost of labeling would be insignificant, as has been demonstrated, they say, in the European Union and other countries that require labels.

READ MORE: GMO crops part of an age-old process

In a touch of irony, given the highly vocal crusade against GMOs in the EU, Professor Anne Glover, chief scientific advisor to EU President Jose Manuel Barroso, said at a September conference of leading European soil scientists that opposition to production of genetically modified crops is “a form of madness.”

Glover, who holds the chair of molecular biology at Scotland’s Aberdeen University, and is a former chief scientific advisor to the Scottish government, said there is “not a single piece of scientific evidence” to support critics’ claims that food containing GMOs is unsafe.

The Scotsman newspaper, in an article by Eddie Gillanders, quotes her as telling the conference that “no other foodstuff has been so thoroughly investigated,” and “I am 99.99 percent certain, from the scientific evidence, that there are no health issues with food produced from GM crops. Just about every scientist I know supports this view. Opposition to GM, and the benefits it can bring, is a form of madness I don’t understand.”

Anti-GMO forces: A real threat to food security?

Part of the problem, she said, is that “public perception and the fact that the small minority of scientists who speak out against GM get the same credence in the media as the vast majority of scientists who support GM.

“Consumers should at least have the choice, and those who have other reasons for opposing GM can continue to do so — but don’t put it down to science.”

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