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Biotech companies launch website to stem anti-GM sentimentqrcode

Aug. 2, 2013

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Aug. 2, 2013
The world's largest biotech companies have launched a website through which they promise to answer questions about genetically modified crops submitted by members of the public.

The website, GMOanswers.com, has been funded by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta. The companies claim it is part of a drive for greater transparency – on the site they state "we acknowledge that we haven't done the best job communicating" – but sceptics have said the website represents a desperate bid to combat growing anti-GM sentiment which has seen major firms pull their GM operations from Europe and campaigns to introduce compulsory GM labelling sweep the United States.
Officially launched on Monday 5th August, the site will also feature safety information about the controversial crops, forming what the industry group claims will be a "central online resource" dealing with the use of GM in food production. However, critics maintain that that this resource will be used to spread pro-GM propaganda, arguing that a site sponsored by manufacturers of GM seeds is unlikely to provide unbiased answers to questions from people curious about the issues surrounding the technology.
Pete Riley from GM sceptic group GM Freeze commented, "People's concerns about GM go beyond personal health and also include farming techniques associated with GM crops and the control of seeds by very few companies. Farmers and consumers should seek out independent assessment of safety and performance of GM crops such as how farmers bottom line is being affected by Roundup resistant weeds in GM soya, cotton and maize. Our advice is avoid industry orchestrated websites like this one."
Echoing Defra Secretary Owen Paterson, who last month launched a push for greater acceptance and more GM crop research in the EU, the Council for Biotechnology Information said "this is the beginning of a new conversation" about GM. But like Paterson, who was criticised over partisan remarks made in June, the understanding seems to be that, once the conversation has begun, there is only one possible outcome. DuPont Pioneer spokesperson Paul Schickler told news agency Reuters the site constitutes "an effort to increase the dialogue," but added, "Over time I think we'll come to a common understanding."
Even so, the GMO Answers website urges users to "Ask tough questions. Be sceptical. Be open." And promises, "We look forward to sharing answers."

Source: Farming UK


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