POLITICIANS AROUND the world should listen to the scientists they fund and stop supporting the idea that foods produced by GMO (genetically modified organism) methods is dangerous, when science shows that they are not, said Nobel laureate Sir Richard John Roberts at the International Symposium on Biotechnology and Chemistry Innovations for Societal Benefits, at Mumbai University’s Kalina campus hosted on Wednesday. Roberts also inaugurated Mumbai University’s first incubation centre.
“For people who live in developing countries, you need to have cheap solutions. For 800 million people who go to bed hungry at night, food is medicine,” said Roberts, adding that many people consumed GM foods without their knowledge, but there has been no problem. He said Greenpeace and other parties should stop scaring the public. “Non-GMO is a western indulgence of the rich, it doesn’t work for the poor in Africa,” he said. Roberts, the chief scientific officer at New England’s Biolabs, distinguished between traditional breeding method and precision method, which means transferring genes directly into plant.
“GMO is a precision method, and ultimately, the product is important, not the method,” he said. He stated that GM foods were probably safer than traditional foods. Roberts has written a letter to several organisations in defence of GMOs that has been endorsed by 141 Nobel laureates.
Vice-chancellor of Institute of Chemical Technology, professor GD Yadav, was the chief guest. Professor of chemistry at University of Oregon, professsor Geraldine Richmond and Freeland professor of Chemistry at University of Strathclyde, Colin Suckling also gave presentations, among others.