I discovered David Freedman’s Scientific American piece while searching through the most credible sources I could find. It begins by presenting two opposing, seemingly credible opinions by two different scientists and the same university. With genetic modification existing peacefully for decades, is it skepticism or is it ignorance?
GM foods have lowered the price of foods and the use of pesticides in agriculture. It has eased hunger around the world. The UN projects that we will need to increase our food growth capacity by 70% by 2050 to keep everyone fed. Genetic modification can create plants that can
Although all of the US’s soybeans and corn are GMO, eight European nations have banned genetically modified foods, along with several Asian and African nations. Ten percent of the world’s crops are genetically modified, and nearly all are grown in the US, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. In the 90s, Greenpeace, Ralph Nader, and Prince Charles came out against GM foods.
Nothing can really be proven safe. More basic forms of genetic alteration have been used in creating foods for 60 years. Scientists are now able to alter single genes and monitor for unexpected changes in the genetic structure, making today’s techniques arguably safer. Genes cross the species barrier in nature through viruses. No food disaster has been caused by GM foods, while scores of people have died from eating infected organic foods.
“Skeptics would argue that this contentiousness is a good thing—that we cannot be too cautious when tinkering with the genetic basis of the world’s food supply. To researchers such as Goldberg, however, the persistence of fears about GM foods is nothing short of exasperating. “In spite of hundreds of millions of genetic experiments involving every type of organism on earth,” he says, “and people eating billions of meals without a problem, we’ve gone back to being ignorant.””
This specific scientist seems to feel strongly on the subject. There is a great deal of logic to his claim. Genetically modified foods have arguably proven their safety through their successful and safe use over a long period of time. This means the real question is can problems arise in the future? The technology that creates these modifications can also monitor changes in the genetic code that could cause problems.
“Despite such promise, much of the world has been busy banning, restricting and otherwise shunning GM foods. Nearly all the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, but only two GM crops, Monsanto’s MON810 maize and BASF’s Amflora potato, are accepted in the European Union. Eight E.U. nations have banned GM crops outright. Throughout Asia, including in India and China, governments have yet to approve most GM crops, including an insect-resistant rice that produces higher yields with less pesticide. In Africa, where millions go hungry, several nations have refused to import GM foods in spite of their lower costs (the result of higher yields and a reduced need for water and pesticides). Kenya has banned them altogether amid widespread malnutrition. No country has definite plans to grow Golden Rice, a crop engineered to deliver more vitamin A than spinach (rice normally has no vitamin A), even though vitamin A deficiency causes more than one million deaths annually and half a million cases of irreversible blindness in the developing world.”
Nothing I have read in my research can justify banning technology that could feed hungry people. The places that ban GM foods are also places where people die of starvation. Nowhere in my research have I read of a person being killed by a genetically modified organism. I just tried to google it, and while I could find a million scary articles about tumors and allergies caused by GMO foods, I could not find a single credible source that I found trustworthy. What I have found is that organic foods are the ones that kill people, but mostly and most importantly, people die from eating no food at all.
From my understanding, European scientists are just as sure of the safety of GM foods as US scientists. I can’t help but think that I’m missing something, because it doesn’t seem to fit together. Is the US a puppet of Monsanto and Big Agriculture and I’m a brainwashed pawn? What reason do countries with starving citizens have to be picky about food that has been proven safe?