Wednesday, 4 February 2015

GMOs are safe and have higher yields than organic foods

If you are neutral on GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), if you don't really know if they are safe, what do you do?
Maybe you do a Google search for GMOs or GM foods and find that there are articles showing that they're safe and articles showing that they're not safe.
So, do you conclude that it's a wash? That you pays your money and you takes your choice? So that you then go with your own bias.  And if that bias is Greenish, then you decide that the "evidence" is that GM foods are unsafe?
Well, no.
You need to look at what those opposing views are.  You need to analyse them.
And all the evidence is that GM foods are safe, environmentally friendly and more productive than organic foods.
Here are the main pros and cons:

Pros:

"The science is settled" (Archive link), in which I quote the following:
  • The US National Academy of Sciences: GM foods are "safe".
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science: GMOs are "safe".
  • The American Medical Association:  GM foods are "as safe to eat as any other food".
  • The European Commission: GM foods are "safe".
  • The Royal Society of Medicine: "Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects...".
  • The Largest Ever Review of Studies on GMOs: there is "no evidence of harm" from GMOs.
  • The French Supreme Court: struck down France's GMO ban because the government had shown "no credible evidence of any harm to humans or the environment".
  • World Health Organisation"...no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved." 
Science direct
Mark Lynas in 2013 (Archive link)
Mark Lynas in 2014 (Archive link)
"Why organic advocates should love GMOs" (Archive link)

Cons:

The non-GMO project
Responsible Technology
These two are not exhaustive on the "cons" side, I admit, but they are the main ones.
But look at what they say:
Jeffrey Smith (of "Responsible Technology"): here's a take-down of this fraud (Archive link)
As for the Non-GMO project, less charletanish than Smith, it says, on its home page:
Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit. Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe.
In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.
But pretty much all of these statements are simply not true.
"No increased yield": Not true.  
In the vast majority of cases national organic average yields are moderately to substantially below those of the overall, national average.
Examples for row crops include Winter Wheat 60% of overall average, Corn 71%, Soybeans 66%, Spring Wheat 47% and Rice 59%. [link]
"No drought tolerance": Not true.  Take this one article amongst many on the Scholar section of a Google search.
"No enhanced nutrition":  Not True.  
The research team [of the Australian Centre for Plant Nutrition Genomics] found that nicotianamine, iron, and zinc concentration levels increased in all three populations of rice relative to the controls.
"In more than 60 countries....there are significant restrictions or outright bans....".  Not true.  Australia, for example, has licensing requirements for GMOs -- as it has for all foods -- but has no "significant restrictions", let alone "outright bans".

These statements by the Non-GMO project are ipse dixet.  That is, they are "arbitrary dogmatic statements that the speaker expects the listener to accept as valid".
Well, I'm sorry, Non-GMO project, we don't accept them as valid just because you say so. We do our research.
And our research shows that GMO foods are all of the above: safe, productive, nutritious and drought tolerant.
GMO's are the way forward, and the Greens and fellow travellers should be held to the flame for trying to limit their use, especially in African countries, where they have the greatest potential.
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[NOTE: the "Archive links" above are to archive.org which makes a permanent link on the Wayback machine, so that the link is preserved for all time.  That's particularly important given that 70% of links don't work after 5 years, reported in the latest New Yorker. Archive link]