Labeling not necessary
The scientific information presented by Andy Leader in his letter “Genetic modification is natural” is accurate while that found in Alfred S. Blakey’s response, “Demand GMO labeling,” is not. Most of the information that I will present here, and the quotations used, are from the objective article entitled “Are engineered foods evil?” in the September 2013 issue of “Scientific American” magazine.
Mr. Blakey states that “nature’s evolution process is not in any way the same as the process man applies in the GMO.” Actually, it is; nature is just much slower, more erratic, and unpredictable. For example, “Viruses have been inserting their DNA into the genomes of crops, as well as human and other organisms, for millions of years.” During the last several decades scientists have used various techniques to swap and alter large numbers of genes in the DNA of plants “creating strains of wheat, rice, peanuts and pears that have become agricultural mainstays.” The newest GM technology “enables scientists to insert into a plant’s genome a single gene (or a few of them) from another species of plant or even from a bacterium or animal.”
Because scientists know what the gene(s) will do in the host plants, the resulting GM crops “provide higher yields, grow in dry and salty land, withstand high and low temperatures, and tolerate insects, disease, and herbicides.” The farmer, therefore, can use less pesticide in the field.
This will reduce the amount of runoff pollution in surface waters and increase health safety. Because of the higher yields, the cost of the food will be less. I do agree with anti-GM people that Monsanto and other companies should not be allowed to have a monopoly on GM seeds.
Mr. Blakey incorrectly claims that “producing food with built-in insecticide means that we devour the insecticide ourselves” and “that the insecticide affects all insects coming in contact with the plant.” Although specific genes inserted into crops like corn make it more resistant to insect damage, there is no pesticide inside the corn for us or insects to consume.
People worldwide have eaten trillions of meals containing GMOs during the last few decades and “not a single verified case of illness has been attributed to the genetic alterations.” Contrast that with the fact that “every single news-making food disaster on record has been attributed to non-GM crops.” No known genetic material can survive a trip through the human digestive system and get into human cells. Moreover, humans regularly ingest the “viruses and bacteria whose genes end up in GM foods.” While some of the testing of GM food is done by Monsanto, a lot of research is done by the European Commission. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association and the National Academy of Sciences all support GM foods. I highly doubt that all of these prestigious organizations have been bribed by Monsanto.
Based on the estimated global population in 2050, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that we will need 70 percent more food than what is produced today. When one couples that with the negative effects of global warming, it is clear that not only non-GM and organic crops are needed to provide that food, but GM products are as well. Should labeling of GM foods be required? For the sake of accuracy, I suppose, but it’s really not necessary.
John Klimenok Jr.
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