5.2.2 The GM Economics Review
Scientists, as might be expected, played a limited role in this review, which was produced by a team dominated by economists. The review sought to evaluate the costs and benefits of commercial development of the GM crops available at that time in the UK. They also looked at possible developments over a 10-15-year period. The members of the team were obliged to recognise the limited 'evidence-base' available on the costs and benefits of GM crops, covering only a short period oftime.
They also accepted that the data available were subject to different interpretations. The panel had to deal with the difficulties of predicting unexpected developments - for example, how could unforeseen, and perhaps unforeseeable, adverse impacts on human health be taken into account? It recognised that, in the short term, the negative attitude of consumers would be likely to substantially limit the demand for products containing GM foods, which severely compromises the economic value of the current generation of GM crops.
By contrast, the longer-term prospects for the future developments of GM crops were perceived as more encouraging, with new products bringing presumed health and consumer benefits (see Section 1). The panel concluded (a) that it was exceptionally important that the regulatory system 'keep up' with future GM technology and (b) that it is able to 'anticipate and manage people's concerns effectively'.