The provocative reverse side of the medal

The provocative reverse side of the medal

Swiss molecular biologist Prof. Dr. Beda Stalder, Director of the Institute for immunology at the University Bern (CH) has made some outstanding statements in view of genetic engineering and in particular regarding cotton. He delivered the speech at the international cotton conference (March 21 -24, 2012) in Bremen (D) with around 500 participants from over 40 countries.

Among his remarks he stated that he has offered a larger sum to anyone proving that there is a true danger in connection with genetic engineered plants. He added, of course so far no one could give such facts because they fear the risks and those are as real as the fear of Asterix and Obelix leading to the fact that the sky is falling on their heads. Sometimes he would wish that a real danger would be detected for the people would be put in a position to note the difference between a virtual and a true risk. It seems as Europe still see the bad man under the bed! He was also outspoken against religious convictions such as the believe in bio-vegetables, because worldwide there is not one study that would prove that such vegetables are healthier, more secure and ecologically friendlier but all over advertising is pretending exactly that leading to the assumption that if the marketing is excellent and the idea silly enough success seems to be guaranteed.

On the other hand he delivered a very scientific paper regarding genetically engineered organism (GVO or GMO) and noted that especially in Europe scepticism regarding genetically modified food stuffs is high whereas in other countries and particularly in poorer countries farmers are receptive to technological enhancement and this is also true for cotton farmers. A great part of the European population doesn’t know very much about genetic engineering and the applied technology, nevertheless this does not hinder these people to be opposed to such applications. Stalder accepts sane scepticism but raises the questions if there are not European fears existing against development or is it paranoia of well-being?

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