The sound of one hand clapping should greet the behaviour of "rational" scientists, businessmen and politicians in the debate on the future of genetically modified food.
One member of the government's review panel resigned because of the its "naive" and unbalanced approach. Another formally complained that he was threatened with the loss of research funding if he was critical of GM technology. In the most staggering example of a conflict of interest in recent times, a Monsanto employee was reportedly commissioned to write the first draft of the panel's report concerning GM safety issues.
Icing on this less than rational cake was added by David King, chairman of the panel and chief government scientific adviser, who used the experience of the US to reassure the public. GM food has been eaten there since around 1996 with no obvious adverse effects. But absence of evidence of harm is not evidence of the absence of harm.
What emerges is an automatic cultural bias in the scientific community towards invasive, hi-tech solutions to complex social, environmental and economic problems. Regardless of whether or not they are best - or even appropriate.
Because why, after all, do we need GM crops? Even if the world was short of food, which it is not, available evidence suggests that using what is called, "sustainable agriculture" - a mixture of environmental and pro-poor approaches to growing food - brings massively higher increases in overall productivity than anything achieved through genetic modification.
Consumers and supermarkets do not want them. Only a hard core of biotech businesses, researchers and their political allies are bothered.
Floundering for winning arguments, they've settled on a kind of moral blackmail, the modern equivalent of patriotism being the last resort of the scoundrel. We should commercially introduce GM crops, they say, because we need to feed the poor.
When this argument was first used aggressively by Monsanto in the late 1990s, the poor had other ideas. African delegates from Ethiopia to Burundi, Senegal and Mozambique, at special negotiations of the UN food and agriculture organisation "strongly" objected that "the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly, nor economically beneficial to us".
They were convinced that the "feed the world" argument was a huge (genetically modified) red herring. Since then, the GM lobbyists just shout louder. George Bush accused the European Union of starving hungry people because of its caution over GM crops.