Monday, November 09, 2009

Picking sides about GMOs

It seems that food policy folks are all expected to pick sides about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

But, exactly what question are we picking sides on?

Question A is:
Could there ever exist a GMO technology worth supporting?
Questions B1, B2, B3, and B4 are:
Are current oversight systems inadequate to protect against food safety failures and environmental harms? Do current GMO technologies promote increased chemical use? Have current GMO technologies been oversold prematurely? Does the current regime of intellectual property rights favor multinational corporations over farmers?
I have no answer to Question A right now. I'll find out the correct answer in a few years.

Here's where I am more confident: If you oppose GMOs, it benefits you to remain friendly with everybody who shares your answers on Question B, regardless of their answer to Question A.


MAT kinase said...

It's important to evaluate GM traits relative to the alternatives.

The GM Bt trait has replaced (extremely destructive) organophosphate sprays for control of the Western corn root worm throughout the Midwest. Glyphosate (roundup) certainly is a "pesticide" but it's much less dangerous than the broad-spectrum ones it replaced.

Unfortunately, sometimes IPM means having to spray your crops - but not all sprays are equal.

Ashley Colpaart said...

A good article" The fight over the future of food. -Claudia Parsons

MA said...

I think you're missing a question that people can pick sides on:
Should GMO foods be labeled?

Parke Wilde said...

Yes, that's right.

Labeling is a type B question.

GMO opponents would be on very firm ground expecting their allies to support labeling -- certainly at least voluntary labeling of GMO-free (which is discouraged by current U.S. policy), and perhaps even mandatory labeling.

J V said...

Question B-4:

R said...

Maybe I'm nitpicking semantics here, but could you give an example of what you might learn in the next few years that would conclusively prove that no GMO technology would ever be worth supporting?

Mark said...

Well then, the next question is What to do about all the vegetables and fruits in our supermarkets? Since the fact of the matter is they didn't exist 500 years ago. A good many didn't exist in my parents' childhood. They weren't made in labs, but they were artificially created just the same. Tomatoes were little, bitter berries before mankind started to play around with them.