Monday, August 1, 2016

One More Time: GMOs

I have written many times before about the errors in thinking used by the people who adamantly oppose genetically modified seeds and the whole process of genetic modification (GMO) to improve crop yield, quality and taste.  (See January 2013, May 2013, July2013, July 2015, and April 2016 for a few samples.)

Those who have read my recent articles on personal mythology might ask, why bother?  Isn’t trying to convince people who are firmly opposed to GMOs to think otherwise a waste of time?  Well, this is a very important subject, so it’s worth one more shot.

Consumer Health Digest (#16-25) gives a very good summary of the latest news about the science regarding GMOs:  “More than 100 Nobel Prize winners have signed an open letter to promote the use of genetically modified plants and reject the views of its opponents. The letter states:
  • Global production of food, feed, and fiber is expected to have to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population. 
  • Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. 
  • Despite this, organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture; misrepresented their risks, benefits, and impacts; and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.
  • Greenpeace has led the opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which causes 1 to 2 million preventable deaths each year, mainly among the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • VAD is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 to 500,000 children each year, half of whom die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.”
The letter with more than 2500 signatures in total urges individuals and organizations to drop their opposition to GMOs based on the continued support from “scientific bodies and regulatory agencies.”  For the reasons given above, they urge governments to drop opposition and regulations that ban planting and raising GMO crops.

In reality, the fear is unfounded.  As the support precision agriculture website explains in detail, scientists are now rearranging and combining genes in a more controlled way as opposed to the random way it was done for thousands of years since farming began.  This British newspaper report shows how fruits and vegetable have been improved in both appearance and nutrition over the last 12,000 years.  Genetic engineering is just another method, a more precise method, of improving the food supply.

And it’s not like this came out of the blue!  Back in 2013 the NOVA NEXT website featured an article promoting GMOs under the heading:  Future of Food.  There they pointed out that genetically modified crops are safe, and the pesticide sprays they make unnecessary are less safe, even those used by organic operations.  The anti-GMO movement is bad for farmers, bad for consumers – especially the poor and those in third-world countries, and bad for the environment.

Meanwhile, states in the US, other countries and big food corporations perpetuate the myth with regulations regarding labeling.  All they are doing is succumbing to pressure from citizens and consumers who have their facts wrong.  But it’s not the jobs of these institutions to know and understand science.  Neither is it their jobs to educate or correct misperceptions.  It’s their jobs to sell us stuff and get reelected, and they will bow to any outside pressure, reasonable or not, to do just that.

It is interesting that the strongest (or at least the most widely cited) argument in defense of the urgency of action on climate change is the consensus within the science community; but when another scientific consensus goes against what people want to believe, they find other support and stick to their mythology.


  1. please stop with your disinformation. permculture systems produce so many times more than gmo/petroleum based agriculture. without polluting the planet.

    the farming/pharma/military industrial complex always find the best shills with the impressive resumes like yours to promote their agenda.

    that check they sent you - don't spend it all in one place.

  2. Wonderful compliment on my "impressive resume." No checks in the mail though, I have even removed all advertising from this site. I hope others with less of a conspiracy theory inclination will find in these pages a fair presentation of facts.


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