24 GMO Doctrine

The term GMO has no biological meaning, yet it has already proven socially and legally crucial. In 2016, 155 Nobel laureates signed an open letter in support of precision agriculture (GMOs) because “global production of food, feed, and fiber will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population.” They continued: “We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular.”

The great bogeyman of industrial agriculture, scientists working for Monsanto were among the first to genetically modify a plant cell, field testing genetically modified crops before the end of the 1980s. Today CRISPR accelerates the process of macro- and micro-organism domestication with which humans have been involved for over 10,000 years. And yet across the modest acceptance GM crops once enjoyed is in decline, producing a global rewiring every time legal infrastructure changes, generally in response to vague sentimentents about “chemicals in your food.”

Precision agriculture improves insect resistance, drought resistance, herbicide tolerance and disease resistance, and can enhance nutritional content for those who need it most. To cite one of the best known examples, the “controversial” Golden Rice was beta carotene-enriched to reduce Vitamin A deficiency among the world’s poorest, but never reached farmers because activists blocked it. Modified soybeans are grown with an enhanced oil profile, much like olive oil, made to last longer and to be free from trans-fats. As with anything that is designed, they can be done better and worse, and must be tested. The blanket rejection of food science by 60s nostalgists who see “chemicals” as not innate in nature but something to be feared is not in fact safeguarding the planet but advancing its destruction.