No risk with GMO foods, says EU chief scientific adviser – EURACTIV.com
EXCLUSIVE: Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are no more risky than their conventionally grown counterparts, European Commission chief scientific adviser Anne Glover told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview, calling for countries preventing the use of GMOs are put to the test.
The GMO safety endorsement will shake up member states where bans are in place (see background) and represents CSA’s most high-profile political intervention since Glover became scientific adviser to Commission President José Manuel Barroso last December.
“There are no substantiated cases of a negative impact on human health, animal health or environmental health, so this is pretty strong evidence, and I would be confident to say that there is no more of risk to eating GMO foods than to eating foods from conventional agriculture. ” Glover told EURACTIV, asserting that the precautionary principle therefore no longer applies.
Glover said she was not promoting GMOs, and added that “eating food is risky,” explaining, “Most of us forget that most plants are poisonous, and that’s just because we cook them, or the amount in which we eat them, that makes them suitable.
But she said scientific evidence needed to play a bigger role in policymaking, firing a wake-up call against countries that have banned GMOs. “I think we could really go somewhere in Europe if, when the evidence is partially used, people were forced to say why they rejected the evidence,” she said.
GMOs and other scientific advances must be explored in order to avoid growing scarcity of energy and other resources and competition for land use, Glover suggested.
“If we use the land to produce biofuels, we are not producing food, and that means we have to step up food production,” she said.
Glover, a former professor of biology at the University of Aberdeen, was Chief Science Advisor for Scotland from 2006-2011. She joined the Commission on January 1.
Its role is to bolster scientific evidence by saying things that politicians and officials are sometimes uncomfortable with, she said, adding, “The evidence I work with is independent, the evidence that I work with is independent. I work do not change according to political philosophy. And that should give people a lot of confidence.
Glover said the unease around the topic of GM crops in the 1980s and 1990s was “a generation ago we have moved on and the challenges are completely different.”
She said the precautionary principle was appropriate when properly applied, but added: “We shouldn’t… somehow tie our hands behind our backs in such a way that we will be so careful that we will wait until everyone uses our knowledge before we use it. “
“That would be my concern, because knowledge is an international currency, and we are among the slowest to take advantage of the knowledge we create, and that cannot be right.”
Get the attention of teenage girls
Glover also defended the recent teaser video released by the Commission in support of its “Women in Science” campaign. The teaser – which showed young women mixing chemicals turning into cosmetics – was withdrawn by the Commission amid complaints it was following gender stereotypes.
“I might not like that young girls think of high heels and lipstick. Now if that’s what young girls think you’d be dumb if you were an announcer to ignore this, “Glover said, expressing disappointment at criticism from” a lot of older scientists and women in my life. age “.
She said: “Maybe they hadn’t thought about who was the center of the campaign. It wasn’t them, but teenagers.
Glover also said she was examining the possibility of creating a network of individual Chief Science Advisors within member states, to provide more clearly targeted lines of communication on scientific evidence in the context of policy making. the EU.