I know I’m going to ruffle some Ithacan feathers by saying this, but I don’t see the point in the anti-GMO movement. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some fresh fruits and vegetables. Going home is disappointing because the farmers’ markets in Connecticut generally suck, and I enjoy supporting local businesses by shopping at Steamboat Landing. But this whole belief that GMO crops are the devil’s spawn seems silly to me; genetic modification works to make our plants better, and without it, we wouldn’t have a lot of the crops we do now. Amidst the rampant misinformation about the horrors of GMOs, Nature has published a special issue discussing the issues with genetic modification in crops and debunks a lot of the ridiculous claims.
What I liked about the special is how they went through and talked about GMO and its ups and downs. Rather than just studies or opinions, Nature includes an editorial, a news piece, a few features, two commentaries, a correspondence piece, a perspective piece, and a podcast. This variety helps maintain the objectivity by using different styles and views. Each article also addresses different sides, such as the Chinese programming to improve crop production or transgenic crops that help reduce hunger in third-world countries. The article addressing common myths goes through case studies to thoroughly explain each one, regardless of whether the myth was actually true or not.
Overall, I think this special is what we need to hear, especially the skeptics. Genetic modification is not the eldritch horror that opponents make it out to be. It makes plants more efficient by increasing yield, building pest resistance, or using less water. It makes plants more nutritious by tweaking vitamin content to address deficiencies in diets around the world. And it makes plants more available by allowing them to grow in different areas.
Make Monsanto’s politics the enemy, not the food or the science.