BY ADAM SCHWARTZ
Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are a tough topic to really dive into, but we will give it a shot. To start we do not think that GMOs are bad, in fact, we think they’re amazing and do more good than harm.
Foods have been genetically modified for a long time, since the dawn of agriculture. The carrot, for example, was once purple, but Dutch growers in the 16th century took mutant strains and gradually changed them to the orange variety that we know today. All science has done is expedited the process. The common fear is of the unknown and we often try desperately to get answers when people get sick and look at GMO foods as an easy answer. It’s important to realize that correlation does not equal causation.
“The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology and, in particular, GMOs are not more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies,” according to a study entitled A Decade of EU-funded GMO Research, 2001 – 2010, by the European Commission.
There is more benefit to be found in GMOs than having weaker, disease-prone produce. Golden Rice is a bio-fortified food that produces a compound that the body synthesizes into vitamin A. This rice helps save the lives of people who suffer from a deficiency of vitamin A, which causes blindness and even death.
The real problem is what is evolving along with the GMO produce. The Cavendish banana is really popular, but it had a predecessor – the Gros Michel. The Gros Michel is that flavour you get every time you have a piece of banana-flavoured candy. The Gros Michel doesn’t exist anymore because it was wiped out by a disease. The Cavendish banana was immune to the disease. Both varieties are GMOs and clones.
We can make plants immune to many diseases, but like Jeff Goldblum’s character said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” What does happen is that viruses and bacteria just mutate and develop their own ways around the defence systems in place. GMOs are not the ethical issue people make them out to be. They’re just another method that can help sustain and improve the lives of millions of people.