Genetically Modified Organisms may be one of the greatest single achievements of science of the late 20th century. In addition to providing better crops, they can produce unlimited amounts of human clotting factor, insulin and other compounds needed by medicine.
As far as food crops go, there is absolutely no reason to think they are dangerous or unhealthy and volumes of scientific data to prove they are perfectly safe. Like conventional crops, genetically modified food crops are made of the same basic materials: water, salt, cellulose, sugars, proteins etc. The genes may be slightly different but your body certainly doesn’t care. And while it is possible that introducing new genes and thus proteins could cause allergic reactions, this has been accounted for in all tests and no reports of mass incidents of allergic reactions have occurred.
Most modern farmers purchase their seeds from seed companies, which provide a more consistent product than producing their own seeds. Hybridized and specially bred varieties are available and may cost more, but also offer benefits. Genetically modified seeds fit into this business model as do any other type of seed.
Despite this, activists have gone nuts over this technology. Many have demanded that the crops are not fit for human consumption, must be banned and blame them for everything from obesity to cancer, despite lack of evidence. Fields have been burned or mowed down, protests have been held across the world. Efforts often center around the company Monsanto, which is he single largest producer of genetically modified products. Monsanto only accounts for about a quarter of products currently available. It’s the company everyone seems to love to hate, but that does not make its products unhealthy or unsafe.
The extreme activism and political pressure has resulted in a few jurisdictions severely restricting or banning genetically modified crops. It has even lead to famine-stricken regions refusing food aid on the basis that it might contain genetically modified material.
Yet the tide now seems to be starting to turn, at least slightly. A few prominent environmentalists and humanitarians are stepping up to the plate to denounce the knee-jerk fear of genetic engineering.
This article from the Daily Kos has recently been getting a great deal of attention:
GMO Truthers need to be kicked out of the Progressive movement
I consider myself to be part of the “far left.” I also have multiple scientific degrees and work in the health care field. I strongly believe that my science background has resulted in my Progressive ideology. The reason being is Progressivism is a fact and science based ideology, whereas Conservatism is a faith based ideology. Conservatives offer religious, faith based solutions to social problems. Moreover, they rely on faith in the “invisible hand” for solutions to the economy, and any free market outcome – whether good or bad – is a moral outcome regardless of its practicality. Hence, wanting to let the economy hit rock bottom after the financial crisis, because that was the “moral”/free market thing to do.
Why do I bring this up? Because a biologist recently wrote a diary criticizing the far left for being a home for GMO truthers. And, unfortunately, Meteor Blades recently promoted GMO nonsense on the front page.
I would probably say that most progressives don’t know much about GMO at all because this topic – especially the science behind it – is not discussed nearly as much as something like climate change or evolution. And this is perfectly all right! It is impossible to know everything about everything. You know GMO has something to do with big corrupt corporations (i.e. Monsanto) and there are a lot of people and groups you inherently trust who say GMO is bad, so you are naturally inclined to think of GMO as a negative thing.
It’s worth a look and I certainly hope it continues to get attention. The comments are predictable, unfortunately. There are a few who are standing up for reason, but many are still in fear of GMO’s.
Politics aside (and I would not consider myself to be part of the fart political left or modern progressivism in general) it is great to see this major segment starting to show some backlash against the GMO fear-mongers.
Political philosophy, after all, is a matter of value judgements and is not fallible. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and there’s no way to prove whether one ideology is right or wrong. But everyone is not entitled to their facts and the safety of GMO’s is an issue of scientific fact. Either you agree with it or you are wrong.