Nothing to fear from GMO foods and plants
I would first like to applaud the recent ban of Roundup and congratulate the Government and the campaigners behind it.
However, I am worried by the recent push against genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs are plants or animals that have had their DNA changed in the lab to express a gene that gives them a desired trait.
Humans have been doing this for thousands of years by selectively breeding together the most bountiful fruit trees or fattest cows to create more nutritious, abundant and tasty foodstuffs.
It seems, though, that when we make this process more efficient by moving it to a lab, people get scared. There is certainly misuse; I totally agree that when agribusiness uses this technology to make their plants resistant to their pesticide to boost sales, it is something to be concerned about.
However, GMOs, like any technology, are not inherently good or bad but have to potential to be used to either end. GMO rice has been created that contains high levels of vitamin A; this is grown in parts of Africa where vitamin A is hard to come by and has saved millions of children there from blindness.
Cold-resistance genes from Arctic fish have been inserted into wheat, allowing it to be grown on barren tundra, opening up millions of new acres of farmland to feed the world’s expanding population.
People also condemn GMOs as being “unnatural” (a pet peeve of mine). Well, neither is living to 35 with all your teeth in your head, and if we’re using “natural” guidelines then living past 40 makes you almost superhuman.
It is more important and more helpful to appreciate the full power and potential of this technology to improve our lives before banning it outright or needlessly vilifying it.