GM – EU’s solution to shortage of food?

Written by Kaisa Manner and Tuija Numminen

Lately there has been frequently EU related news that contain letter combination GMO:
a genetically modified organism. What is going on in EU?

Last March European Commission accepted the cultivation of Amflora potato. This doesn’t sound so remarkable – a new kind of potato. But it is actually a big step for EU, it is the first GMO plant that is allowed to cultivate on EU area. Amflora was approved for industrial applications. A genetically modified organism means a plant or a germ, which genotype has been modified by genetic engineering methods.

Why GMO?

Modifying grain genetically makes harvests bigger. FAO has estimated that the world food production should grow 70 % until 2050 to feed all people. Could GMO be EU’s plan to secure sufficiency of food?

Last summer Commission gave a legislative proposal that provides thefreedom of deciding about cultivating GMO products to the MemberStates. It seems that even though EU’s position on GMO has earlierbeen strictly resisting, it is now changing it. Is GMO EU’s solutionto future shortage of food?

Where does Finland stand?

The Minister of agriculture and forestry of Finland, Sirkka-Liisa Anttila has been constantly repeating on interviews that she supports the proposal of the Commission. She says that it’s every states right to decide about GMO issue independently. She also thinks that in the end consumers make the final decision.

– If the most of the consumers are against GMO cultivation, I’m definitely on their side,” she says on the interview of Suomen Kuvalehti magazine last October.

Unfortunately even though Finland would decide to forbid GMO, we would be eating GMO food here in Finland too. If the law proposal will be accepted, it will influence every country in EU country, whether it allows the GMO products or not. You can’t stop products in open Europe.

If the law proposal will be accepted, it will influence every country in EU area, whether it allows the GMO products or not.

Also in Finland large amount of consumers do not want to have GMO food to their dinner table. Last year 85 % of farmers were against growing GM food.

Food and Feed are generally derived from plants and animals which have been grown and bred by humans for several thousand years. Over time, these plants and animals have undergone substantial genetic changes as those individuals with the most desirable characteristics for food and feed were chosen for breeding the next generation.

The desirable characteristics were caused by naturally occurring variations in the genetic make-up of those individuals. In recent times, it has become possible to modify the genetic material of living cells and organisms using techniques of modern gene technology.

Organisms, such as plants and animals, whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such way are called genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called genetically modified (GM) food or feed.

People want GMO free food

Last autumn organizations Greenpeace and Avaaz announced that over 1 million EU citizens have signed their supplication for the first EU Citizens Initiative to have safe food and stop genetically modified crops in EU and have GMO free Europe. They reached and got signature for over one million people within seven months in 27 different EU countries in member states. It´s much more than half more the number of states was needed.

Principle for farming genetically modified plants is now under processing in Finnish Parliament.

A group of lecturers in Department of Biology in University of Turku have recently asked for answers if Finland is going to stay as the land of organic food or must farmers say goodbye to that.

International experiments show that is not possible to farm side by side GM food and organic food because of spreading of pollen.

Genetically modified food have been in the market for over ten years, the most common plants are soy and maize. If you have two corns in front of you, you can´t say which of them is genetically modified and which is organically grown.

EU Council has recommend that countries should protect GMO free production. EU Commission recommend that the law should be valid until the first sale point. How can you stop pollen spreading from some neighbour field to another?

That is why even organic food farmers cannot guarantee any more that their food is 100 % free.

– Finnish Organic Food Association has the environment strategy that shows how organic metods and modern plant concentration are already having same good results than GM try to have, but they have not succeed so well yet, notes Elisa Niemi, Executive director of the Association in their web site.

Modified genes are being modified to be like viruses to get them grap to the DNA of new host more easily. Who wants to eat food like that? Who can say that it would not harm your health now or in the future? Should we find some other solution to futures´s growing shortage of food and food´s heavy price?

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One Response to “GM – EU’s solution to shortage of food?”

  1. peterverweij Says:

    Interesting read, but the structure is a bit wanting. You jump from EU to Finland and deatisl about what GMO is. What is the position of the EU? How is the Finnish position related to the EU. Do we need that food for solving the problem of food shortage in the world and in the EU? It is bit general and need some focus.

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