GM is not a panacea for all ills, it's just a new tool in the crop breeders' armoury
The battleground for genetically modified technology is centred in the field because the use of this science is mainly in the production of food and animal feed.
When GM techniques were first introduced nearly 20 years ago, uproar within the EU led to severe restrictions being placed on the "release" of GM technology for cultivation. At the time, it was a new technology and perhaps this cautious approach was warranted – when you're in a fog, you drive slowly.
However, over time the fog has cleared, but the legislation and attitude to the GM issue taken by regulators has not and is wholly inappropriate for the times we are in now.
The EPA recently hosted a conference on the regulation and use of GMO technology in Ireland. It included presentations from the regulatory authorities in Ireland, the EU, and the USA, along with academics in the plant science, medical and pharmaceutical arena, farming and the environmental lobby.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is charged with the role of evaluating GM technology. This authority has given its assessment that GM production is "as safe as conventional production".
Given the political pressures the organisation is under, and divergent opinions that exist in the scientific community, this is a really strong statement.
But even this clear conclusion from a highly-regarded body, coupled with the vast experience that other countries have using the technology for many years, doesn't seem to have changed the EU regulators' stance.Some members of the pro-GM lobby haven't helped. They have too often dismissed people's legitimate fears with disdain.
Initially they enthused we could cross "everything with anything" to get "any result we want".