David Robert Grimes takes on five myths about GM foods.
One is that GM is untested. Wrong, he says; it’s tested.
Another is that Monsanto is the devil.
Another frequent claim is that Monsanto specialises in “terminator seeds” that are sterile and cannot reproduce, making farmers dependent on the firm. This persistent myth is also false. It is technically feasible to make sterile seeds, but Monsanto does not sell them (and in 1999 pledged never to explore that avenue).
Does anyone sell them?
Another claim is that it’s all big biz – i.e., I assume, all profit-driven. He cites golden rice as one example of academic and humanitarian as opposed to profit-driven research.
Sadly, it has been doggedly opposed by organisations such as Greenpeace, on ideological rather than pragmatic grounds. This ideological pig-headedness is even more puzzling when one considers that GM advances could not only save millions of lives but also spare our environment the ravages of intensive farming and pesticides. This is often ignored by people who are ostensibly most concerned for the environment. Three years ago, in England, hundreds of protesters tried to destroy a field where genetically modified wheat was being tested by Rothamsted Research, an independent, nonprofit agricultural institution. Publicly funded researchers there had been working to produce a wheat with a naturally occurring plant pheromone that repelled aphids. Were it successful, farmers would no longer have to use potentially hazardous insecticides, substantially reducing our agricultural footprint. This would be an enormous boon to the developing world, where crop failure often means widespread death and suffering. In spite of the potential, protesters vowed to destroy the experiment, just as they have vowed to destroy many other research crops.
And then there’s the “it’s unnatural” complaint, which is just fatuous. Putting a splint on a broken arm is “unnatural” too; so what.
Updating to add: posts about that planned protest at Rothamsted in 2012:
Note for anyone thinking of going to Rothamsted tomorrow (guest post by Bernard Hurley)