A lot of readers have asked me to discuss GMO. You see the acronym everywhere, but what’s the issue? GMO stands for “genetically modified organism” and refers to a process whereby genes from one species’ DNA are inserted into that of another. It’s high-tech cross-breeding begun in 1996 with the aim of reducing pesticide use. Fine intentions, to be sure, but what’s the reality?
Part of everyone’s confusion is that 1996 date: eighteen years of data is simply not conclusive. We cannot yet read the possible toll on the environment and our health, it’s too soon to know. If, for example, GMOs indeed cause cancer, as some already claim, the science will not be in for years or decades.
Another reason for the confusion is the air of near hysteria on the parts of both the pro- and anti-GMO activists. Sans conclusive science, this makes it hard to trust, or even listen to, either camp. As was remarked in Nature magazine: “People are positively swimming in information about GM technologies. Much of it is wrong—on both sides of the debate. But a lot of this incorrect information is sophisticated, backed by legitimate-sounding research and written with certitude. (With GM crops, a good gauge of a statement’s fallacy is the conviction with which it is delivered.)” (“Fields of Gold“) [Read more…]