In a debate article published in SVD (7/8), Klara Fischer, associate professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, criticizes the Swedish Board of Agriculture's assessment of the possibilities and risks of so-called new genomic technologies (NGT) which is a variant of genetic modification (GMO).
The background is that the Swedish Board of Agriculture last spring responded to a survey from the European Commission about the needs, opportunities and risks of the use of NGT.
Fischers, who has consistently examined the authority's response, believes that the Swedish Board of Agriculture:
- exaggerates the possibilities with NGT when, for example, they speculate about increased harvests and reduced use of pesticides as actual achievements when in fact they are theoretical assumptions
- avoids delving into the societal and environmental risks of technology
A societal risk that the Swedish Board of Agriculture chooses not to address is the question of who gets access to patented technologies and products. "It is deeply unfortunate because questions about patents and concentrations of power are crucial to how new technologies can actually be used and by whom," Fischer writes in the debate article. As a deterrent, she points out that only four companies account for over 60 percent of all commercial seed globally and that their ability to link patents to GMOs not only limits the farmer's choices but also contributes to the elimination of smallholder farming.
Organic Swedens position is that all GMO technologies - both old and new - need to be regulated. In this way, we maintain the freedom and independence of farmers, food companies and, not least, consumers.
To meet the challenges of the future, however, we do not need old or new GMO technologies. We need innovative agriculture based on the principles of organic farming. We need an agriculture that pays the farmer fairly and manages our public goods - such as biodiversity, clean water and living soils and that enables the production of healthy and sustainable food.