GMOs

Clarification of my position on GMOs

Comment: I am not impressed with your insistence that GMO is good and bio diversity and organic is bad.

My response: That’s not my position. My position is that genetic modification of crops should not be an ideological issue. It should be a scientific issue. Some genetic modifications may be good and others bad. For instance, to use the examples of two of the most famous genetically modified crops: I am in favor of “Golden Rice” and I oppose “Round-up Ready Soybeans”, but on these it is an issue of intent. On the issue of safety and efficacy and viability that is for geneticists and biologists to determine not Hindus masquerading as Physicists.

The issue of biodiversity is an issue of crop monoculture which is an issue separate and long proceeding the advent of genetic modification of food crops. There is no reason that crop diversity cannot be expanded and we cannot grow the rainbow of potatoes and corn that exist instead of just the brown, red, and yellow potatoes and the yellow, white, and blue corn for instance. Agricultural practices going back to ancient Babylon lead to a reduction in crop biodiversity and it was mostly a question of which crops grew the fastest with the least water and the least resistance to pests and yielded the most food even if it wasn’t the most nutritious, because for most people on this planet the greatest source of malnutrition they will ever face is starvation.

There are people born with genetic defects that cause horrible debilitating diseases and those genes may be able to be simply “turned off”, so this kind of belief that all genetic science is somehow a bad thing has very real negative consequences outside of agriculture as well. I am fully in favor of study, consumer choice, labeling, but I oppose people who are not genetic biologists accusing the those who have actually dedicated their lives to understanding how these things work of all being crazy or stupid or evil or what-have-you. The superstition and propaganda against all GMOs peddled by the likes of Vandana Shiva will only serve to discredit any actual scientific evidence that emerges proving that any particular GMO is harmful to biodiversity or human health.

..and I have NEVER and would NEVER suggest that organic is bad…where did you get that idea? I am for reducing the use of hydrocarbon pollution and that includes agricultural pesticides and herbicides while protecting crops from pests and weeds. Both organic farming and genetic science could help in this regard.

Comment: I’m not comfortable with anybody who doesn’t see the serious problems with Monsanto.

My response: I do see the serious problems with Monsanto, but Monsanto does not represent the totality of the GMO issue. Monsanto is a huge corporation involved in many products besides genetically modified crops. Additionally crops are being genetically modified by many institutions, public and private, for profit and non-profit, that have nothing to do with Monsanto. Monsanto does not equal all GMOs and all GMOs does not equal Monsanto anymore than GM equals all cars or all cars equal GM. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

Again, there is no reason to think that genetic modifications have to yield only positive result or only negative results but each case should be studied by scientists qualified to understand genetics and peer-reviewed. Monsanto is a for-profit corporation so they should not be deciding independently whether something is safe. What should decide is scientific consensus just like with climate change.

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