Heat gone out of GM food debate

27 September 2013. Source: ABC Rural


Has the heat gone out of the genetically modified food debate?

That’s the sentiment of a science author who says people are now willing to eat GM food.

“I think the debate has been around enough that the extremes have gone out of it,” the CSIRO’s Dr Craig Cormick said.

“The hysteria has probably diminished a lot and people are no longer willing to make a gut reaction and say ‘it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it’s against nature’.

“It’s been around for over a decade and people always go through the hot reaction at first, and then it calms down a bit and people start (thinking) ‘let’s have a discussion around this’.”

GM crops are plants that have genes removed or added to change their attributes.

In Hawaii, scientists created a GM papaya crop to overcome a deadly virus.

Cotton and canola are among the most common genetically modified Australian crops.

Dr Cormick says people are willing to eat GM foods if they understand why the crop has been modified.

He says changes in climate impact on people’s willingness to eat GM food.

“The agricultural community is talking about it seriously,” Dr Cormick said.

“We look back a couple of years during the big drought, we did find clearly in public attitudes that people were much more receptive to the idea of GM drought-resistant wheat or GM drought-resistant crops.