Friday, July 2, 2010

Genetic Modification and the 21st Century Food Supply

Over at Project SyndicateUniversity of Copenhagen Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen has an interesting article on the importance of genetically modified foods for securing sufficient food supply to prevent hunger and meet the nutritional needs of fast-growing populations in the 21st century. European countries and even some developing countries, the greatest potential beneficiaries of genetic modification of food crops, have opposed what is sometimes referred to as "Frankenfood" for various reasons, but primarily out of concern with public health and environmental safety. As Pinstrup-Andersen explains, those concerns are overstated, if not completely spurious:
GM foods have now been on the market in the US for more than 12 years. Most of the food consumed by Americans is either genetically modified or exposed to genetic modification somewhere in the production process. There is no evidence of even a single case of illness or death as a result – in the US or anywhere else where GM foods are consumed. Similarly, GM feed has not resulted in any illness or death in animals. And no environmental damage has been detected.

It is unusual that a new technology has no negative side effects. Just think of all the deaths that the wheel has caused, not to mention the side effects of much of the medicine we take. What, then, is the danger of GM foods?

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