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Who owns life?Tiki looking at DNA molecule

Why the rush?

The GE companies say they want to feed all the world's starving people. Excellent! But few companies want to give money away - which is what they'd have to do to feed the starving. Hungry people have no money to buy food or land to grow it on. That is why they're hungry. Not because there isn't enough food. I think the companies are in a hurry because they want to make money fast. Many people think this is risky. They think that the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) the companies are already growing — and you are eating — have not been tested very well.

It's the same stuff!

Or is it? The big seed companies claim that their GM seeds and foods are 'substantially equivalent' – meaning more or less the same as ordinary seeds. A soy bean seed or tomato looks the same whether it's genetically modified or it isn't. Same or different?They taste the same. They smell the same. So they are the same (almost), say the companies. So there's no need to test them. Critics say this is wrong. If a plant's genes have been altered by GE, the plant then makes or does something different. So it is different, and it may have effects that no-one can know about.

These were genuine worries back in the early days of genetic engineering. GE foods were beginning to be eaten by people (and farm animals) in America and many other parts of the world by the early 1990s. But people in Europe protested in a big way, so big that European governments were forced to ban all GE foods and crops. Protesters had several good reasons for taking action. One main objection was that nobody wanted to be a guinea pig. People didn't want to eat food that hadn't been properly tested and wasn't labelled. They mostly still don't and big protests regularly take place.

So the great world 'experiment' to discover whether these new foods were safe, as the companies that made them claimed, went ahead without Europe. Nothing has gone wrong so far, so it looks like GE foods are not the nightmare 'Frankenfoods' which many protesters called them. From a food safety viewpoint, they seem to be okay.

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