The Green Phoenix: A History of Genetically Modified Plants

By Paul F. Lurquin | Go to book overview

CHAPTRE 5
Where We Are Now,
and the Future

Genetically modified crops are presented as an essentially
straightforward development that will increase yields through
techniques which merely extend traditional methods of plant
breeding. I am afraid I cannot accept this…I believe that this
kind of modification takes mankind into realms that belong
to God, and to God alone.

PRINCE CHARLES OF WALES
From [Seeds of Disaster,] Daily Telegraph, June 10, 1998

The Prince's extremely naive analysis fails to address the real
problems of the planet. It reminds scientists of the remarks of
another privileged individual. Queen Marie-Antoinette
observed that if the hungry people in France were starving
because they had no bread, then [Let them eat cake.]

From [Let Them Eat Cake: Prince of Wales vs.
Biotechnology,] press release from the Ninth
IAPTC Congress on Plant Biotechnology and
in Vitro Biology in the 21st Century.

Plant biotechnologists and Prince Charles are in clear disagreement. But unlike the downtrodden sansculottes who were soon to send MarieAntoinette and her husband to the guillotine, much of the European public is now siding with a Royal Highness (or the Royal Highness is siding with the public). What is happening? Or rather, why are scientists so angry at an aristocrat not known for his penetrating views on scientific or societal problems? Also, why is it that the American public is so much more tolerant of products derived from genetically modified plants, which in the United States are not even required (with some exceptions) to be labeled as such?

-103-

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