GM Science Review - Comments on First Report

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Name: Sally Cooke Location (optional): Dorset Date: 15 October 2003
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Comments on first report of GM Science Review, from Sally Cooke, Dorset.

section 3.2 (precautionary principle) This is a remarkably short section for such an important principle. The principle is not just about risk assessment, or appraisal methods, it was conceived (under the Rio Declaration to which the UK is, I believe, a signatory) as a basis for decisions and actions.

I do not see much consideration in this report of how the laws of ecology affect the application of the precautionary principle in relation to GM crops.

It seems to me that we know the potential for small effects to multiply exponentially throughout a population or an ecosystem, and so the precautionary principle is a critical consideration, which deserves more weight than it receives in the current report of the GM Science Review.

section 7

p. 37 Bailey et al (for Defra) - was this research published in a peer-reviewed journal?

top of p. 38 Griffiths et al (2001) - "no change in measures of overall functioning" (of soil that was biologically impoverished) - did this include looking for changes in nutrient levels in a range of food crops grown on the impoverished soils?

Should we not, in any case, be considering the implications of HGT on the ability of soils to support a wide range of micro-nutrients in food crops?

If food crops now contain fewer nutrients than they did in the 1940s, presumably as a side-effect of modern farming techniques, have we any evidence on how GM crops and their associated farm management methods would affect this aspect of food quality?

7.4.8. I agree that we need more understanding of soil ecosystems. Who will pay for the research?

Sally Cooke