Dr. Sue Mayer, Executive Director of GeneWatch UK; The Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP; and Devinder Sharma, award-winning journalist, writer, thinker, and researcher respected for his views on food and trade policy, spoke against the motion.
The debate, held on March 22, 2004, was chaired by Peter Sissons, who, after 14 years with the BBC, has become one of the best-known faces on British TV.
Intelligence Squared is London's leading forum for live debate, holding regular debates on the crucial issues of the day and inviting the leading intellectual and political lights on the given subject to participate in them. The format of the debates is modeled on the one employed at the Oxford and Cambridge university Unions: a challenging, sharply defined motion; a team of speakers to propose the motion and a like number to oppose it; and a moderator to keep the speakers and the audience in order and force everyone to stick to the issues. After the main speeches and before summation, contributions are asked from the floor: audience participation is a key feature of the occasion, providing a rare opportunity for the public to voice their opinions and to challenge those of the speakers. A vote is taken before the debate begins and then again at the end so as to give a measure, often a very dramatic one, of the extent to which the audience has been swayed by the oratory and arguments of the speakers in the course of the evening.
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The arguments for GM foods were very clearly presented by two British professors and a U.S. Monsanto vp. The arguments against were clouded by emotion and fear (Sue Mayer played the role of the neo-Luddite, Devinder Sharma was the difficult-to-understand Indian anti-capitalist, and the Right Honorable Michael Meacher played the part of the sensationalist demagogue). Despite the good arguments for GM foods, the audience at the British Natural History Museum voted against the measure.
If you are only casually aquainted with the GM debate and want to hear the arguments for and against, then this is an entertaining way to do it. There are better, more scholarly ways to approach the subject, but they will be less entertaining than this intelligence^2 debate. It's better than several others I have listened to, and IMHO worth you time.
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