The Truth About GMOs


The Boston Review has a forum on GMOs, with several responses to a lead piece by Pamela Ronald:

The world faces an enormous challenge: with changing diets and population growth of 2–3 billion over the next 40 years, UNESCO predicts that food production will need to rise by 70 percent by 2050. Many pests and diseases cannot, however, be controlled using conventional breeding methods. Moreover, subsistence farmers cannot afford most pesticides, which are often ineffective or harmful to the environment.

Yet many emerging agricultural catastrophes can almost certainly be avoided thanks to a modern form of plant breeding that uses genetic engineering (GE), a process that has led to reduced insecticide use and enhanced productivity of farms large and small.

In spite of these benefits, genetic engineering is anathema to many people. In the United States, we’ve seen attempts to force labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In much of Europe, farmers are prohibited from growing genetically engineered crops and so must import grain from the United States. And “GMO-free” zones are expanding in Japan.

The strong distrust of GE foods is curious. Opponents typically profess a high degree of concern for human welfare and the environment. They want the same things that scientists, farmers, food security experts, and environmentalists want: ecologically sound food production accessible to a growing global population. But their opposition threatens the great strides that have been made toward these goals through deployment of new technologies.

More here, including links to reponses and to Ronald's reply to her interlocutors.