We Are Asking the Wrong Question About GMOs

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Those opposed to or wary of GE (genetically engineered) crops or products seem to come by that feeling because they’re worried about what’s in GE crops.  They’re worried about consuming something ‘unnatural,’ something that’s been made in a lab instead of by Mother Nature.

Well, even Mother Nature needs some help sometimes.

In my continued reading on GE crops, I’ve come across what I consider to be an absolutely excellent TED Talk from Pamela Ronald, a plant geneticist from the University of California, Davis.  In her talk, which I’ll post below and strongly encourage you to watch (it’s about 20 minutes), she addresses the major concerns that currently exist about GE crops by giving scientifically based evidence on why those concerns aren’t really concerns at all.  As she put it in this article for the Boston Globe, “The question is not whether we should use genetic engineering, but more pressingly, how we should use it – to what responsible purpose.”

Did I mention that Ronald is also married?  To an organic farmer?  This matters not because she’s a married female scientist but because the union of genetic engineering and organics is a very unlikely one.  But the two seem to have worked together to really put the GE debate into perspective.  At one point in her talk, Ronald says that (I’m paraphrasing here), for those of us who already have enough to eat, it’s easy to question GE crops.  And she’s right.  I’ve talked about this before. But the proof is in the (rice) pudding, as you’ll hear about in the video.

My intention here is not to tell you you’re absolutely wrong about how you feel or that I’m absolutely right about how I feel.  My intention is to give you as many tools and as much information as possible to make an informed decision about how you feel about these issues.  And we may agree to disagree on certain issues.  But you have to understand – as I continue to – that your thoughts and feelings affect other people and other things, locally, nationally and internationally – things like political action, laws, the cost of food production and our ability to adequately and efficiently feed the growing population that inhabits this planet.

So here’s an opportunity to spend some time with a scientist who knows a helluva lot more about GE than you or I (unless you’re a plant geneticist too, of course) and see if your interest or opinion might be piqued.  Mine has.


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