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Herald Agenda: Government's closed mind on GM crops will exact a heavy price

By Tony Trewavas and Keith Dawson

The sweet potato, often called a yam, is a familiar vegetable on our supermarket shelves. It is a swollen root and its orange flesh is rich in the precursor of vitamin A. It provides nourishment equivalent to the potato (although unrelated) but will grow in poor as well as soil-rich circumstances. It has been available for some 20 years and freely sold. If you have eaten sweet potato in the last 20 years you have eaten your first GM meal.

That mankind is changing the climate is commonly accepted

The claim is supported by increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil-fuel burning, a global temperature increase from 1975-1998 and future temperature projections derived from climate models. The Kyoto protocol based on model projections aims to keep future temperature elevations below 2ÚC by severe reductions (decarbonisation) in GHG emissions, and fossil-fuelled electricity generation is considered a primary emitter. But the alternatives, so-called renewables, are very expensive and area-hungry.

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