People make A LOT of noise about genetically modified organisms (GMO), which is to say the idea of messing with nature’s special formula scares most people. Popular science has a run-down of the top 10 myths, and debunks them each handily:
- Genetic engineering is radical. Ahem, we’ve been manipulating and cross-pollinating fruits and vegetables for years. In fact GM is probably safer because it’s not as much of a crap shoot and trial-and-error.
- GMOs are too new to understand their effects. Well no, we’ve been doing this sort of thing since 1994 and studying them for over 30 years. We’ve also conducted 1700 peer-reviewed safety studies.
- Farmers can’t replant GMO seeds. a) that’s not true and b) most commercial farmers these days don’t even save seeds.
- There’s enough food so we don’t need GMOs. That’s so wrong it’s just sad. We’ll probably run out of our natural supply after 2050
- GMOs cause allergies and other health issues. Products don’t just hit the market. They’re tested and confirmed to NOT have an adverse effect.
- The research has all been funded by Big Agriculture. Wrong again! Dozens of medical and scientific groups have led the way.
- GMOs lead to overuse of pesticides and herbicides. This might be partially true – in the case of herbicides, but only the mildest one available (safer than caffeine).
- GMOs create super-insect and weeds. If we drastically changed the way we farmed either could happen. So the idea is to crop rotate, use integrate pest management and the like. But GMO as the culprit. Um, no.
- GMOs harm good insects. Here we have a little issue. Many pesticides and herbicides used can also harm other insects so we need to be careful about what we use and where. To that extend GMOs are partially responsible.
- Modified genes spread to other crops! Sure it’s possible for pollen and materials to travel, but to what extent? Can they contaminate other crops? Probably not. Will they mutate them? The risk is seriously low.
GMO is on the rise. The world needs more food. If the science is conducted responsibly, I’m all for it.