The biotech industry has decided the time is right for a major push to explode the myths surrounding Frankenstein foods' in the wake of calls for a more rational debate on genetic modification. Seed giants including Monsanto, Syngenta and Aventis have teamed up to form the Agricultural Biotechnology Council in response to a public demand for more "open and accessible information" on GM crops. The move follows the publication of a major report from the Royal Society concluding there is no evidence to suggest that genetic modification makes foods inherently less safe than their conventional counterparts. Speaking at the launch of abc's inaugural report, Aventis head of UK seeds Stephen Smith said the council's purpose was not to plug GM as the "silver bullet" that will feed the world's starving millions or to present it as superior to other farming techniques, but to facilitate an informed debate on the issues surrounding the technology. Although the pro GM and organic lobbies appear to be diametrically opposed, the irony, said Smith, is that they are both working towards the same goals of sustainable farming with fewer pesticides. "This technology can bring significant benefits for farming and the environment. Indeed, it may be the salvation of organic farming." Monsanto head of corporate affairs Tony Combes said recent research revealed the public would be more accepting of GM technology if it meant more targeted use of pesticides, more birds in the countryside, and a reduced risk of allergic reactions to foods by removing the rogue DNA responsible for them. Although supermarkets had used their GM-free credentials as selling points, there was no reason why they could not sell goods produced under a variety of different farming methods, he added. GM could even play a key role in developing greater self sufficiency by enabling British farmers to grow products like beans and soybeans that are currently imported because of the unsuitable climate. {{NEWS }}