I am delighted by the government's decision to cancel the FSA's proposed public engagement exercise on genetically modified food. Half a million was to be blown on a barely concealed attempt to establish some stage-managed legitimacy for ramming GM down our throats.
What a waste. Public opinion is dead against GM, of that there is no doubt. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has just received a petition calling for a GM crop freeze with more than a million signatories. What's wrong with these GM obsessives? Don't they understand no means no?
Now the Con-Dems need to improve the shining hour by pulling the plug on GM research. Twenty million pounds of UK taxpayers' money has been ploughed into it since 1997 and not a single GM crop is being grown here. Dead duck ? I'd say so. GM spuds, or more money for schools and hospitals? I know what I'd rather see precious public money spent on. And if those prima donna biotechnologists threaten to take their Einstein-like brains elsewhere, let them. If they can't get their heads around science in the public interest, as opposed to science in the interest of self-serving transnational corporations, then I for one will cheer them off at the airport.
I can't shed a tear either about the mooted cull of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides and the Pesticide Residue Committee. What shams they are, little more than a public relations exercise on behalf of the agrichemical industry to allay public fears over the routine contamination of our food with poisons. Top-heavy with scientists who, if they aren't payrolled by the industry, would dearly love to have it bankroll their research, they trot out the agreed script: "None of the residues detected would be expected to have an effect on health". Even the typists must get bored reading this line, year in and year out.
A third of all our food, and half our fruits and vegetables, contains traces of chemicals designed to kill things, yet the cocktail effect is airily dismissed, each residue is conveniently considered in isolation and risk assessment is based on calculations carried out in the 1950s and a few tests on rats. Feel safe ? I don't. Arguably, even two useless committees are better than none. But at least if they are scrapped, we won't be under any illusion that the experts are looking out for us.
Joanna Blythman is a food journalist and author of Bad Food Britain.