So much for telling myself I wasn’t going to blog until Monday.
On September 6th, Scientific American’s editorial board wrote an article in which they come out against labeling Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food.
And that’s good enough for me. Maybe it will put an end, once and for all, to the irrational hysteria over GMO.
As the editors of Scientific American correctly point out, we’ve been eating GMO food since the dawn of agriculture through a long process of selected breeding. All the food that you enjoy today once started out as something you wouldn’t recognize, such as a scraggly-looking grass that we now know as corn.
With the advent of genetic engineering, scientists as far back as 20 years ago have been using modern tools to tweak and improve genes of plant crops that allow them to resist drought and not wither and die under the use of herbicides.
Some crops, such as rice, have been genetically modified to produce more vitamin A, an essential supplement that without causes blindness in over half a million children worldwide.
Who on Earth would be against that?
It’s an insult to Third World countries who don’t get enough to eat or are forced to eat foods that are low in nutritional quality that we would be having this argument.
There is no scientific evidence to support the notion that GMO foods are somehow unsafe for you to eat. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization and the nanny-state European Union all agree that GMOs are just as safe as other foods.
Is it genetic engineering that bothers you? It shouldn’t. In fact, genetic engineering is far more precise and far less likely to produce an unwanted or unexpected result than conventional breeding techniques that are, at best, haphazard.
If we had to sit around and wait for conventional breeding techniques to solve the problems that plague agriculture half the world would have starved to death by now.
SA makes another valid point: non-GMO foods are far too expensive to grow and maintain. I once went on an “all organic” food kick and what I found was that this organic food was not only expensive but it went rotten faster – a double waste of my money.
Another plus about GMO is that agriculture is an environmentally destructive endeavor. I don’t need to be told this: all I have to do is look outside my window at the rice farms next door during planting seasons. Growing crops leeches minerals and nutrients out of the soil and if you do too much of this you end up ruining the land and have to take up even more land to compensate for the land you’ve lost.
Genetic engineering has found ways to grow more food on smaller plots of land without destroying it.
We’re up against an ever increasing population. People aren’t simply going to start having fewer babies and by the middle of this century there will be 10 billion people on this planet. They’re all going to need places to live and that means a lot of what was farm land will be given over so that these people may live on it but we’re also aware that these new arrivals will need food and places to grow it on and there’s no way we can possibly pull this off without genetic engineering.
Again, who on Earth is against that?
You have been eating genetically modified food since you were born, as have your parents and your parents before them. In the last 20 years, you have been eating food that has been tweaked as a result of genetic engineering and if there was anything to this “Frankenfood” hype, 20 years is a long enough time line in which we’d have all heard something by now if there was a problem with it.
As for myself, I love asparagus but hate that overpowering smell in your urine afterwards. Perhaps you geneticists could turn your hand toward solving that particular issue?
- Scientific American declares it’s against GMO labeling (salon.com)
- Critics: “GMO OMG” is a manipulative polemic (salon.com)