GM, Sandy Knapp And Matthew Cobb discussed on BBC World Service


But we can also engineered crops like over jeans or eggplants to be poisonous to their specific tests while staying safe for humans. Bangladeshi farmers can now grow more crops, make more profit and use less pesticides, which is good for them and for the environment. Use of says the uptake on the seat is high on that the GM crops are very popular. So seems like a win win right? Well, Sandy Knapp said earlier. Nothing is black and white. When it comes to GM. Lots of people have concerns about GM crops from whether they're safe to eat to whether the modified genes might escape into the wild. We need someone who can help us unpick some of this I'm professor Matthew Cobb from the University of Manchester. I'm currently writing a book about the history of genetic engineering. The problem with ALS. These genes. These GM crops is that they're designed to be used in large scale farms. And this is what you have to do if you simply plant your crop everywhere. You will end up producing inadvertently resistant strains of the insect and that resistant gene will then spread through the population in our created a problem. What Matthews describing is evolution in action, and it means that resistance is almost inevitable eventually. Any insect that emerges with a random mutation that allows it to eat the BT Eggplants will have the whole field to themselves and so that insect will multiply rapidly, spreading the gene for resistance and taking the farmers back to square one. To stop this. They have to grow a buffer zone of non GM eggplant, which can support a big population of insect pests that way, even if one does arrive with the mutation for resistance, it doesn't really have much of an advantage because there's plenty of non toxic crop for them to eat on plenty of other insects doing just fine without the resistance Gene. And so the gene doesn't spread. It's easy to do on a big farm because you've got loads of space and you could make loads of money. But on a small farm. It's very, very difficult to have sufficient space to allow those areas off effectively growing insects rather than growing your crop. Most of the farmers in Bangladesh are growing eggplants on small holdings with quite limited space. So I asked Yousef. How did they stop resistance from occurring on the small farms? They supply seeds, too? Okay, That's an interesting question What we're doing when we are distributing seats. We're putting a small packet of non GM plants seeds inside. And we are asking them to grow a border roll with those So this is a kind of resistance management. We are trying to introduce. And with that, and proper management. I think we can delay this residence development for several years. It sounds sensible mean do you know? Do you have any data about whether farmers they're actually kind of doing this in practice? I mean that they kind of reluctant because it would mean that you would eat into their profits. No it because we regularly monitored the Crosby, which is called the Post release, monitoring in most of the fields about farmers have grown. Uh, refused crop. So actually, they're really interested. It's reassuring to hear that at a local level people like you, sir for thinking about how they can get around some of the potential pitfalls of BT crops, But more generally, what should we make of the polarizing issues that surround this biotechnology? Well, it is complicated. But one important thing to say is that the controversies around GM are not global. They're localized. For one thing. GM crops have been grown for years now in the U. S. A on many crops have permitted in China and India, whereas in many countries in Europe including France and Italy, GM crops a completely band

Coming up next