This anti-GMO army is going against the grain
Posted Monday, October 22 2012 at 01:00
- Is GMO food about to rid the earth of human beings in the name of boosting agricultural output by way of developing (in labs) drought and pest-resistant crops? Is opposition to this technology anti-science and anti-logic?
A picture in Wednesday’s Daily Nation showed the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition demonstrating against GMOs. A while back the lobby opposed the importation of maize from South Africa, saying it was genetically modified.
I wonder who funds these anti-science crusades. The most prominent sign on the picture had a barely visible subscript with writings in German.
Upon googling the words, you are led to a German website for a faith-based organisation concerned with matters nutrition. Surprise, surprise. GM is the 21st century’s Galileo’s telescope.
No one does anti-science hysteria like a religious organisation. One of the placards in the photos shows a skeleton; this is despite the fact that there has not been a single case of a person dying from eating GMO products.
I am just glad that the protesters were willing to show us the names of the bankrollers of their confected outrage so that we may put their protest in perspective.
In the background was a partially hidden placard repeating the allegation that GMOs cause cancer.
In Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives, Michael Specter writes about how whole subsections of society refute evidence of a scientific nature and turn away from reality.
Their version of truth is their own belief not backed by evidence, but because of a rapidly changing world. In their topsy-turvy world, they dismiss scientific evidence as just another scientific point of view and march off to the fringes of pseudoscience to forage for “studies” that conform to their internal belief.
So that is how you find manufactured “debates” where the remains of discredited and discarded studies are exhumed, touched up by a mortician, and put on display. You end up with claims such as GM food causes cancer.
This claim also recently appeared in the Nation a while back. Thankfully, the letters page robustly discredited the study cited.
If the government wants to make policy using science and evidence, there is no question; GMO is the way to go. If the government wants to make policy based on superstition and single issue lobbyists, it should ban GMOs.
All plant and animal breeding is based on rearranging genetic material. All our food is the result of human intervention unless it is harvested from the wild.
We have been doing it for several millenniums and, more importantly, nature has been doing it through evolution for millions of years. Agriculture has been the story of mankind’s interference with plant and animal species for his own purposes.
I am sure there were a few foragers who opposed the domestication of animals. Others questioned the use of irrigation as opposed to rain-fed agriculture. Some objected to the plough. Or oxen in the field.
Now we have this lot who think that modifying the genes of food to make it better is wrong. Anti-GMO campaigns are a sort of biological Luddism (opposition to technological progress) and aversion to change that has its roots in superstition.
It stems from the idea that anything contrary to nature will wipe us out. Forgetting what a cruel mistress nature is. They claim that nature knows best despite the fact that 99 per cent of all species of animal and plants that have existed are extinct.
Now, humans who eat more GM foods live longer. Is this a coincidence? Even in societies that have had a longer experience with GM foods, the average life span has been going up progressively.
GM crops have the potential for higher yield, need less pesticides (hence better for the environment), and require less weeding. They could be made to grow in less than desirable locales, and some are even resist to viruses.