The article takes the stance that according to recent research, the scientific community has come to agreement that GMO foods are safe for human consumption. Backed by studies spanning some 20 years, scientists and respected peer reviewed journals have concluded that GMO foods pose no more of a threat to us as do traditional crop breeding methods. According to a publication by Nature Biotechnology, the negative perception of GMO foods is largely due to the fact that the population in general does not directly see any benefit from GMO foods. Some of the most convincing evidence is that in the time GM foods have made their way into the food supply, no scientifically backed data has shown any adverse effects to humans
This Editorial covers an event in The Philippines. On 8 August 2013, the Philippine Department of Agriculture was conducting a meeting covering new types of GM (genetically-modified) rice. Their event was interrupted by anti-GMO (genetically-modified organism) protesters. Ostensibly a group of local farmers, it later came out that the protesters had actually been brought from other areas to take part and overrun the conference.
The editorial goes on to describe how the scientific community has taken issue with these kinds of destructive protests, naming a specific effort by Greenpeace as the worst. Greenpeace, among other NGOs (non-governmental organizations), were launching a focused attack on the use of “Golden Rice”, a specific GM version of rice that produces beta-carotene, which leads to the development of vitamin A. Lack of vitamin A can cause blindness, and also shuts down the immune system. The authors describe it as, “a disease of poverty and poor diet, responsible for 1.9 to 2.8 million preventable deaths annually, mostly of children under 5 years old and women.”
Because rice is such a staple crop for much of the planet, it is important that all varieties are able to produce the vital beta-carotene. Researchers spent over 25 years working on a solution, and there is currently a commercially-viable product. However, due to “fears of ‘potential’ hazards,” the rice hasn’t made it to market in places like The Philippines.
This is one of those cases where it seems like GM-agriculture really does seem like a good way to go. It helps people, and new crops can carry vitamins and chemicals our body needs. And in areas where certain crops won’t grow, other GM-crops might. The editorial makes mention of how fears of new technology almost always wane over time, but in the case of GMOs, the controversy is still quite hot.