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A Positive Assessment of GMO Crops

As an agricultural scientist, I have great respect for sound, properly-conducted scientific research. I believe that responsibly applied results from such research should be the basis for adoption or rejection of any new technology. Such is the case for the safe use of food and feed products derived from crop plants that contain genetically modified traits–i.e. GMOs. Thus, two recent articles made me realize that we who often have the podium in this debate must re-invigorate our efforts to educate the public on the safety of food and feed products that are derived from GMOs.

The first article titled “GMO Beyond the Science–A Nutritionist Reflects on the Sad State of Health Education About GMOs and Farming at Schools and Universities” is authored by Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Chair of the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State Univ. The following points are derived from this article.

•    Anti-GMO propaganda documentary films have become a prime source of misinformation that is passed along to impressionable young students. In fact, the preponderance of media sources about GMO technology that is available today promotes fear-mongering about the technology. These slanted presentations all paint a negative and unscientific perspective of GMO technology.

•    Most teachers in the secondary schools have no background in farming or health issues, and readily pass along anti-biotechnology rhetoric as fact.

•    Scientists are frustrated when trying to counter the fear-mongering rhetoric of anti-GMO propaganda when the education establishment is firmly under the influence of these anti-GMO “documentaries”.

•    There is strong scientific evidence that GMO foods are safe for humans and animals. There are no credible sources that contradict this evidence.

•    We should be encouraging thinking in the minds of young people that is based on scientific evidence rather than their being subjected to only non-science emotional viewpoints about this or any other subject. Scientists must continue to raise their voices to promote this viewpoint. This is the only way we can influence the direction of the dialog regarding the safety of GMO-based products and technology.

The second article titled “We Must Learn to Love Genetically Modified Crops” is authored by Amanda Little, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist who covers agriculture and climate, and who is also a Professor at Vanderbilt Univ. The following points are derived from this article.

•    The article centers on the GMO trait of HB4 in wheat (See article on this website), which would be directly consumed by humans.

•    Consumers are skeptical of the safety of this new GMO wheat, but when she examined the scientific basis for consumer skepticism of GMO crop products in general, she found there was no valid reason for such skepticism. In other words, no evidence has ever been found that proves that GMOs are harmful to humans.

•    New genetic modification techniques can provide new varieties in a much shorter time than when applying conventional breeding methods.

•    The progress with the HB4 trait offers hope to the millions of farmers throughout the world who face hot and dry conditions that are projected to get worse.

•    Finally, the author states that 1) “We must move beyond the question of whether (or not) GMO crops should be developed at all, and instead focus on which applications will bring the most value to our world”, and 2) “Rising environmental pressures have begun to justify the use of controversial agricultural tools that can help change the balance back in favor of humanity–as long as the technology is applied responsibly”.

There are other articles on this website that deal with the unwarranted skepticism about GMO crops. Click here for the latest of these articles that contains links to previous ones.

Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, July 2022, larryh91746@gmail.com