What are politicians to do when scientific studies undermine their political stances? One option would be to admit their previous judgement was mistaken. Another is to cover up the studies...
Just a month since France ran into trouble with the European Commission over its proposed freeze on the planting of genetically modified crops, we now learn that government officials in Italy have for two years been suppressing the results of field trials on a genetically engineered strain of maize showing that compared with conventional varieties, the GM crop has both a higher yield (by 28-43%) and significantly lower levels of toxins (less than 1% the fumonisin content, which appears to cause neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida).
As Peter Mandelson noted earlier this year, "We need an open and rational debate about the risks and benefits of biotechnology more than ever... We must be under no illusion that Europe's interests are served by being outside a global market that is steadily working its way through the issues raised by GM food. They are not."
UPDATE: Interesting to see the IHT is reporting that the European agriculture commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, has today warned farm ministers that resistance in Europe to imports of genetically modified products is contributing to the rising cost of raising pigs and chickens, and could pose a threat to the meat industry.
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