Biotechnology

Washington Post Calls Out "Anti-GMO Fundamentalists"

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Killer Tomatoes

Last month, a bunch of idiots, I mean, voters in two Oregon counties banned farmers from planting modern biotech crops on their own land. Various other states are considering ballot initiatives that would require foods made using ingredients from biotech crops be labelled as such. Here's a hint to the superstitious: a huge proportion of America's corn and soy crop are genetically enhanced. So since practically all processed foods in the U.S. contain either corn sugar or soy oil and meal or both, make your food purchase decisions by simply looking on the labels for those ingredients.

The Washington Post's editorial board published a superb opinion piece today denouncing the anti-scientific asininity of the Oregon voters:

GENETICALLY MODIFIED crops have increased the productivity and improved the lives of farmers — and the people who depend on them — all over the world. Now, they are banned in two counties in Oregon.

Voters in two Oregon counties have chosen to outlaw the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the productive Rogue Valley. They are not the only ones going in the wrong direction. Several places in California, Hawaii, Maine and Washington state also have bans in place, though the Oregon counties are the first in which GMOs had been actively cultivated…

There is no mainstream scientific evidence showing that foods containing GMOs are any more or less harmful for people to consume than anything else in the supermarket, despite decades of development and use. If that doesn't convince some people, they have the option of simply buying food bearing the "organic" label. There is no need for the government to stigmatize products with a label that suggests the potential for harm. Outright bans, meanwhile, are even worse than gratuitous labeling…

The application of current biotechnological tools to agriculture offers a wide array of benefits , benefits that are only beginning to be seen. There is the potential to create crops that are easier to grow, better for the environment and more nutrient-rich. Smart genetic modification is one important tool available to sustain the world's growing multitudes. Making good on that promise will require both an openness to the technology and serious investment in GMOs within wealthy countries. The prospect of helping to feed the starving and improve the lives of people across the planet should not be nipped because of the self-indulgent fretting of first-world activists…

…there is nothing reasonable about anti-GMO fundamentalism. Voters and their representatives should worry less about "Frankenfood" and more about the vast global challenges that genetically modified crops can help address.

See also my article, "The Top Five Lies About Biotech Crops."