Digesting the facts on genetic modification (GM)

Uploaded by csiro on 25.05.2009

Well what exactly is genetically modified food? Who knows?
I think if all the appropriate testing has been done, then I'm happy to eat it.
But I think it's the fear of not really knowing what you're eating.
But it's quite hard to get a non-biased view on genetically modified food.
I prefer non-genetically modified food.
I don't really have much of a problem with it.
I don't feel like that there's been a proper public debate about it.
What does genetic modification mean?
Alan Richardson - For hundreds of years we've been using genetic selection
to improve the quality of our agricultural crops
for instance, higher yielding plants, plants adapted to better environments,
or foods that are more nutritious for us.
Gene technology allows us to do this in a quicker and more precise way.
Donna Bond - Plants contain approximately 30,000 genes,
and we're changing only one, or adding in an extra gene to improve the plant,
making them healthier, or making them easier to grow.
I read in the paper the other day that there's a concern about people with allergies,
that allergies are on the increase from... and they think it's linked to genetically modified foods.
Alan Richardson - I understand that allergies are on the increase, and this is a big concern,
but there's no evidence to link this to GM foods.
In fact, GM foods are less of a risk because of the extensive testing that they undergo.
Whereas I like it in theory for the advancements of science
and what possible benefits it could have, but it appears that nobody's actually using it
for real benefits, other than benefits for large companies back pockets.
Alan Richardson - Yeah, the big companies are involved, but it's not all about them making money.
In fact in Australia most of the gene tech research is done by public institutions, like Universities
and the CSIRO, and there are many other benefits. For example, at CSIRO, we're producing oil seeds
that have lower saturated fats, and inbuilt Omega 3's.
Donna Bond - We're developing genetically modified cowpeas,
a staple food source for West African countries.
These cowpeas will require less insecticide,
and will result in the production of more food for the local people.
Probably my largest concern is that there are
- at least in some of the media reports that I've heard so far - is that there are
food stuffs that are being manufactured that have genetically modified ingredients
that we're not alerted to as consumers.
Donna Bond - In Australia all foods that contain genetically modified products
must be labelled by law, like these (demonstrating),
which contain genetically modified corn and traces of other GM products.
I just want to know, what is the projected effect it would have on the environment
in the future?
Alan Richardson - GM can actually contribute to a cleaner environment.
Any new crops developed by GM are thoroughly tested to ensure that they don't pose
an environmental risk. GM cotton, with inbuilt insect resistance,
has now been grown in Australia for over ten years,
and now makes up most of our cotton industry.
This GM cotton has resulted in an 80% reduction in the use of pesticides,
and this is great news for our farmers, the environment,
and the health of our river systems.
Genetically engineering of plants is not going to harm the human race at all.
We've tried to change nature in the past,
sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad, so...
I don't know much about it. I trust the Scientists.
I don't think I'd buy it unless I actually knew what it was.
So if I knew what it was, then, yeah.
If it makes agriculture more productive and stuff,
and more people on the planet, less farmland, I think it's a good way to go.