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article imageBritish scientists awarded $10 million to research GM crops

By Anne Sewell     Jul 15, 2012 in Environment
London - The next in the list of countries to research and plant GMO crops is the United Kingdom. However, protesters say this is not a good idea.
Scientists in the United Kingdom have received a US$10 million grant from the Gates Foundation, for research into GM crops.
However, the British public remains skeptical of GM foods, as a recent report has stated that they pose both health and environmental threats.
Scientists from the John Innes Center will be using the donation to cultivate genetically modified wheat, rice and corn. They hope to create a strain that is able to extract nitrogen from the air, which would thus eliminate the need for chemical ammonia to be spread on fields.
The center claims that such an innovative crop would have a huge impact on global agriculture, in particular for poorer farmers who cannot afford fertilizers.
They also maintain that the innovation would cut back on fertilizer use and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that they create.
Professor Giles Oldroyd from the John Innes Centre is leading the team. He says that the project is vital for poorer producers and could have a "huge impact" on global agriculture.
"We believe if we can get nitron fixing cereals we can deliver much higher yields to farmers in Africa and allow them to grow enough food for themselves."
Currently it is illegal to cultivate GM crops in the U.K. and opponents of the controversial research say that it will be years before tests yield any practical results.
Digital Journal reported recently on a study published by two genetic engineers from London's King's College of Medicine, in which it was shown that genetically modified foods pose a far more serious threat than proponents of the research would have people believe.
According to Dr. Michael Antoniou, author of the report, "GM crops are promoted on the basis of ambitious claims – that they are safe to eat, environmentally beneficial, increase yields, reduce reliance on pesticides and can help solve world hunger."
However, the investigation claims that research into GM crops is incomplete and that tests on the effect of consuming such crops are not comprehensive enough.
Dr. John Fagan, co-author of the paper stated that current GM techniques produce “crude” and “imprecise” results and “can create unexpected toxins or allergens in foods and affect their nutritional value."
Further, the report claims that genetically modified crops have actually increased the use of pesticides and herbicides, that cause cancer and can lead to birth defects. Many other health complications are also feared.
In May, with the report of the generous donation towards GM research, anti-GM activists attempted to storm a field of genetically modified crops in Hertfordshire, near London. They were planning on ripping up the field, which is part of a scientific testing facility. Police barred them from entering the field and two men were arrested for trespassing.
MSN ran a survey on their website, asking if it would be a good idea to plant GMO crops in the U.K. The result of the poll was 67% against, and 33% for GMOs.
More about United Kingdom, Britain, Gmo, Genetically modified, Crops
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