Iowa Public Television

 

GM foods get backing of some in scientific community

posted on April 7, 2000


THE DIVISION IN THE DEBATE OVER GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS IS NOT LIKELY TO NARROW ANYTIME SOON. INDEED THE DEBATE HAS

MULTIPLE FRONTS, NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH, AS MARKET TO MARKET REPORTED LAST WEEK, IS PUBLIC RELATIONS.

SOME OF THE OPPOSITION TO THE TECHNOLOGY IS GROUND IN DISTRUST OF THE COMPANIES WHO OWN IT. THE FEAR IS OWNERSHIP OF SUCH POTENT MEANS OF PRODUCTION BY A RELATIVE HANDFUL OF COMPANIES WILL FURTHER CONCENTRATE AGRICULTURE INTO FEWER HANDS.

MANY IN THE OPPOSITION CAMP SIMPLY SEE GMO TECHNOLOGY AS SATAN'S SPAWN - AN ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE WAITING TO HAPPEN. THE FERVOR OF THAT VIEW WAS HARDLY DAMPENED THIS WEEK BY ASSURANCES FROM SOME HIGH PROFILE MEMBERS OF THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY. INDEED THIS WEEK THE LESSON IN THE THERMODYNAMICS OF PUBLIC CONTROVERSY IS ALL DEBATE IS FUEL FOR MORE.

MUCH TO THE CONTINUED DISMAY OF CRITICS OF TRANSGENIC SEEDS, THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES RELEASED A REPORT THIS WEEK SUBSTANTIATING THE SEED INDUSTRY CLAIM THAT GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS, OR G-M-Os, ARE SAFE. AFTER A YEAR OF STUDY, THE TWELVE MEMBER COMMITTEE WAS UNABLE TO FIND ANY EVIDENCE SUGGESTING FOODS MADE WITH G-M-Os WERE UNSAFE TO EAT.

IT WAS FURTHER DETERMINED THAT EVEN THOUGH G-M-O PLANTS LETHAL TO TARGET AND NON-TARGET INSECTS, LIKE MONARCH BUTTERFLY CATERPILLARS, HAD LESS IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT THAN IF CONVENTIONAL PESTICIDES HAD BEEN USED.

THE SCIENTIFIC PANEL ALSO RECOMMENDS THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY CONTINUE TESTING FOR ANY LONG TERM EFFECTS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SEEDS ON HUMANS OR THE ENVIRONMENT.

IN ADDITION, THE COMMITTEE ADVOCATES THE REGULATORY PROCESS BE MORE OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE TO CALM ANY FEARS THE PUBLIC MIGHT HAVE ABOUT G-M FOODS.

ANTI-G-M-O FORCES WERE UPSET THE COMMITTEE DID NOT RECOMMEND FOODS CONTAINING GENETICALLY MODIFIED INGREDIENTS BE LABELED.

TRANSGENIC DETRACTORS ALSO CRITICIZED THE STUDY AS BIASED -- CITING MANY OF THE SCIENTISTS ON THE PANEL HAVE TIES TO THE GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEED INDUSTRY.

MANY OF THE SAME PROTESTERS WHO HALTED WORLD TRADE TALKS IN SEATTLE IN JANUARY ARE NOW MARSHALING FOR TEN DAYS OF PROTEST IN WASHINGTON. BEGINNING SATURDAY THE LABOR, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS, UNDER THE BANNER OF "MOBILIZATION FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE", WILL PROTEST BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND AND WORLD BANK HEADQUARTERS.

THE PROTESTERS BELIEVE THE IMF, THE WORLD BANK, AS WELL AS THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION ARE RIGGED IN FAVOR OF WEALTHY MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE POOR, LABOR UNIONS AND THE ENVIRONMENT.

Tags: agriculture crops genetic engineering industry news science