Monday, April 27, 2015

Will we ever get to healthily talking about GMO food?

The news feed reported that "Chipotle to Stop Serving Genetically Altered Food."  It doesn't matter to me; I have never been to a Chipotle nor do I have plans to go there anyway.

But, that corporate talk won't be easy to walk:
Ridding the supply chain of genetically altered components is difficult. They lurk in baking powder, cornstarch and a variety of ingredients used as preservatives, coloring agents and added vitamins, as well as in commodities like canola and soy oils, corn meal and sugar.
Oh well, what Chipotle does is its business.

But, the madness over the GMO issue is my business too.
It's a conversation that needs to change. A recent Pew survey found that the largest disagreement between scientists and the public on a scientific issue is over the question of GMO safety. While 88 percent of surveyed scientists agreed that GMOs were safe to eat, only 37 percent of the public agreed. This is substantially lower than the 50 percent of people who accept that humans are contributing to climate change—GMOs are more controversial than global warming.
As with climate change, it is not the science itself that is the hassle.  It is the PR angle.  GMO needs Apple's PR people for an image makeover; after all, almost always the GMO-haters are religiously devoted to Apple and its products!

A former Greenpeace activist and a GMO hater, Mark Lynas, writes about his conversion:
A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind.
After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.
There is an equivalent level of scientific consensus on both issues, I realized, that climate change is real and genetically modified foods are safe. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other.
I have blogged once before about Lynas's (the Comma Queen says this usage is ok!) conversion.  Lynas was no ordinary petition-signing GMO hater:
He was a law breaker. He'd pile into vans with gangs of up to 30 people and spend nights slashing GM crops with machetes. 
Now on the other side, which is the correct side on the GMO issue, Lynas writes:
No one claims that biotech is a silver bullet. The technology of genetic modification can’t make the rains come on time or ensure that farmers in Africa have stronger land rights. But improved seed genetics can make a contribution in all sorts of ways: It can increase disease resistance and drought tolerance, which are especially important as climate change continues to bite; and it can help tackle hidden malnutritional problems like vitamin A deficiency.
We need this technology. We must not let the green movement stand in its way.
I wonder how difficult or easy it was for him to write "We must not let the green movement stand in its way" when he was one of the very people who created the madness in the first place!  To undo all that will not be easy.  Meanwhile, pity the poor and struggling farmers in India, Kenya, Bangladesh, ...

You think I care about what Chipotle does?

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