Friday, August 30, 2019

In defense of GMOs

If anyone dare bring up any reservations about anthropogenic global warming or express concerns over possible side effects of vaccines they are castigated for not knowing or believing in science.

Somehow, those who most often point the accusatory fingers are most often those who themselves don’t believe in science, specifically the value of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

The deniers are everywhere.

For purely unscientific reasons (saying GMOs are the causes of everything from environmental mutations to lower intelligence) they forced the federal government’s hand in mandating labeling of GM foodstuff and still to this day constantly batter and demean the ag industry’s players who use GMO.  

It’s truly unfortunate because, in almost all cases, GMOs have proven to be a Godsend (or more accurately “Mansend”) for humanity and the environment. 

GMO crops are in almost everything. Genetic modification accounts for 95% of the soy bean output and 88% of the corn planted in the United State.

Their use has allowed for much higher yields (a 20% increase in global efficiency in just 20 years), larger and better looking fruits and vegetables, and a longer useful life for produce after harvest.

Those agricultural victories are an absolute necessity for human nourishment. Today, there are 795 million starving people on this planet. In the US alone, 1 in 10 Americans is deemed food insecure. Without GMOs cutting deeply into those sad numbers every year and bringing people out of starvation, where would we be in 2050 when the global population is projected to be 21% greater than it is now (9.3 billion versus 7.7 billion)?

Those people being nourished are also benefiting from advances brought about through genetic modification of crops. Consider that 250 million children in developing countries are subjected to Vitamin A deficiencies that lead to blindness among other ailments. Golden Rice, which is infused with bate-carotene, was produced to combat that. Millions of people have been saved by this GMO.

The anti-GMO crowd would like everyone to believe that GMOs are a scourge to the environment and a cause of global warming (what isn’t nowadays?).

They are anything but.

GMOs have reduced pesticide use by 37%. They allow the use of no-till farming which decreases erosion by 1 billion tons per year in the US, which also substantially decreases nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from farms. That same farming procedure also eliminates greenhouse gases: since 2015 American farmers have cut back on what is equivalent to 12 million cars off the road. 

The GMO witch hunt has to stop. It benefits no one to put the fear of GMOs into consumers who already can’t make smart food choices as it is -- more than two-thirds of US adults are overweight or obese, an outcome of choosing processed foods over produce, a situation that will be compounded by the war on fresh foods that might happen to have GMO origin.

Adding to that, your average consumer is incapable of telling good science from bad.

We need to leave that to the scientists to take care of.

In almost all cases, those bioengineers, nutritionists, and agriculturalists have done such great work that they cannot distinguish between GMOs and non-GMOs. And, neither can your body.

GMOs are safe, productive and the key to a brighter tomorrow for so many of this world’s hungry citizens.

From the 26 August 2019 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News

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