February 3, 2014

BECAUSE IF WE HELP PEOPLE OF COLOR THERE MIGHT BE MORE OF THEM:

A senseless fight (Elizabeth Finkel, 2/03/14, Cosmos)

How could anyone in good conscience seek to thwart technology that has even a remote chance of tackling the problem of vitamin A blindness?

Many readers will have no trouble providing an answer. The anti-GMO clich├ęs go something like this: GM crops are unsafe to eat; they are bad for the environment; they are a tool of agribusiness corporations; and they exploit poor farmers who must buy seed as opposed to their traditional practice of saving seed.

The first points have been disproved over the past two decades, which is why food and environment safety agencies around the world have declared them as safe as conventionally grown crops. The trope about agribusiness does not apply, either. Golden Rice is being developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which is a not-for-profit institute, and the seeds will be distributed to farmers who can resow them as they wish. In these cases, the argument switches to "Golden Rice is a Trojan horse". In other words, by sneaking below the barriers of suspicion, it will open the floodgates to GMO technology and from then on to a slippery slope and the takeover of the world's seed supply (See Speak of the Devil, page 74). Even if that is a legitimate concern, it is an issue for regulators not a reason to demonise a technology.

Some of the concern over GMOs is a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of transferring foreign DNA into our crops. But this happens all the time in traditional breeding. DNA from wheat species that are little more than weedy grasses is bred into wheat using various tricks of the trade. And microbes naturally ferry genes between species. The fact is, it's only GM crops that have to be tested so rigorously on a case-by-case basis. Arguably they are not just as safe as traditional crops, but safer.

The battles against GMOs are  just the visible skirmishes of a war that has raged for decades: a war against modern agriculture. 

It is, of course, a matter of bad conscience, like opposing DDT.
Posted by at February 3, 2014 6:22 PM
  
blog comments powered by Disqus
« WHO KNEW SELF-OBSESSION WAS A TRAIT OF GAY MEN?: | Main | WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH THE SURPLUS?: »