By IAN SCOONES, STEPS Centre Co-director

A decade ago there was much hope – and even more hype – about the potentials of GM crops. GM crops were going to feed the world, solving issues of poverty and development, seemingly at a stroke. Technologies for dealing with drought or nutrient deficits were, it was claimed, in the pipeline. Even the pest-resistant Bt technologies that were already available offered the opportunity of reducing pesticide use and improving farmers’ incomes. GM crops were going to be of particular help, it was argued, to poorer farmers in the developing world, ushering in a new ‘gene revolution’ to succeed the ‘green revolution’ of previous decades.

A decade ago, of course, there were also those who predicted disaster and calamity – and still do. GM crops were going to result in all sorts of environmental and health catastrophes, and provide the basis for global domination of agriculture by a few large corporations. Just as the pro-GM lobby could be accused of excessive and unfounded hype, anti-GM campaigners often generated doomsday scenarios based on limited evidence.

Ian’s full article is posted on the STEPS Centre website