It has been more than 30 years since GM crops were planted. Is the world really better off?
The Independent has been looking at the future of genetically modified foods as of late. In a series of articles written on the subject, they decided to include among them an email debate between a pro-GMO-er and an anti-GMO advocate. They were hoping that the exchange would help readers have a more open discussion to allow them to make up their own minds on the subject.
Claire Robinson Editor of GMWatch, Research Director of Earth Open Source, and Co-author of GMO Myths and Truths, and Mark Lynas, an author and proponent of GM technology, took up the proposal to ‘duke it out’ verbally over emails that would be moderated by the Independent and then shared with their readers.
While a discussion on any topic can be ongoing, and never have a declared ‘winner’ or ‘loser,’ it was extremely obvious in the debate between Robinson, who was standing on firm ground, and Lynas, who was touting the usually GM propaganda – but of course you should decide by reading the entire transcript yourself. Highlights I thought were worth mentioning include:
“The scientific disagreements on GMO safety are based on hard data. Distrust of GMOs will continue among scientists and the public as long as GMO approvals are granted on the basis of inadequate safety tests sponsored by the manufacturer… To sum up, GM has failed. After 30 years and billions of dollars of investment, it has brought us safety questions, superweeds, and the decline of the monarch butterfly. It’s time to invest resources into areas that will bring us healthy food that is safe for the environment.”
In a single phrase, Robinson points out the insanely obvious. Thirty years and billions of dollars and we still aren’t feeding the world any better – one of the biggest claims that biotech ever made. Instead we have more disease, more pollution, more damaged soil, more polluted water, more contaminated air, less biodiversity, and yep – still hunger – all over the world.
We can feed the entire world right now – we just waste more than half of the food that is already created. What we eat now doesn’t nurture us. It causes disease – of the planet and of our bodies. And we’ve paid for it, with more than a monetary price tag.
“I was on your side 15 years ago, opposing GM crops, when there was little evidence of their safety and the precautionary principle seemed apt. But since then sufficient published data has accumulated (now totaling hundreds of peer-reviewed papers) that there is now an overwhelming scientific consensus on the safety of GM technology.”
I don’t know Lynas personally, nor his assumed deeper affiliations with large biotech companies, but if he hasn’t heard, most of the studies conducted saying GM is safe is paid for by the same people who wouldn’t allow anything derogatory to be printed if it were to come out in the scientific data. University-level studies would lose their grants, and corporate level scientific studies would lose funding as well.
Additionally, there have been no long-term risk assessment studies proving GM food was safe – ever. Show me one long-term study.
Add to that equation the fact that a Monsanto employee recently admitted that the company has an entire department meant to discredit anything that speaks against them. It is an awfully shaky argument to state that “sufficient published data has accumulated” proving GM food is safe.
What about the studies that point to kidney failure? Lowered sperm count? Cancer in rats? Cancer in people? Etc. Etc. You can’t argue with the truth, Mr. Lynas. Why would a company spend millions to curtail science that describes GMOs as ‘quite possibly cancerous’ if that weren’t the truth?
It took a while for Institutions like Harvard to admit that antibiotic overuse could be damaging. The same thing is happening with GMOs. Are we to wait until a scientific researcher that you actually give credence to gives us the truth about GM food? I think not. We’re smarter than that.
Have your own debate about GMO food? Share your ideas below.
Photo credit: The Independent