Matt Ridley’s statement (Diary, 14 May) that “GM allows the organic dream of drastic cuts in pesticide use to come true without high cost” must surely be disingenuous coat-trailing, or at least an instance of grossly unbalanced journalism. Before he ripostes that this was only a passing comment in a desultory diary, I should like to suggest that the subject of how we are going to feed ourselves and our descendants deserves better than a contrarian throwaway line.
Mr Ridley makes no reference to research (e.g. as quoted by Friends of the Earth in 2008) that indicates increased use of pesticides in conjunction with GM crops. Is he also unaware of the common assertion that one of the purposes of GM in cereals is to develop crops that are resistant to the side-effects of herbicides and some pesticides, so helping to expand the market for the agrichemical industry? Does he further wish us to believe that he is ignorant of the debate about monoculture farming: how it allegedly increases liability to disease and pests, which in turn encourages the use of chemicals that harm wildlife and soil microorganisms and degrade the soil structure?
As a meat-eating, leather-shoe-wearing Westerner, I should like those who come long after me to have the same options; it is not only the plastic-sandaled devotees of Gaia who are concerned about sustainability, or the integrity of our environment.