are a tool
, not a moral issue. However, they cause enough controversy to make you think they are killing people. The only valuable argument ever raised was that GMO
s might trigger allergies (since the foods we eat normally have been selected for their safety, this seems reasonable). Experiments where rats were fed GM potatoes were shown to be badly designed (specifically, the potatoes were modified to produce lectin
which is poisonous anyway!).
On the other hand, there may be some recent evidence that bacteria in the guts of bees take up the modified genes from GM pollen. Although this does not mean they are expressed, it does make trials more complicated. A final point to counter claims that GM foods are essential for the Third World is that improvement in crop growth can also be brought about by proper understanding of how plants find nutrients.
The Aberdeen scientist (Arpad Pusztai) who performed the lectin (I misspelt this in a previous version, thus the soft link below) experiments published some results in The Lancet. Unfortunately, press conferences somewhat biased the scientific community against him and his work. His claims that GM food is poisonous are somewhat general and largely unsupported.
I voted amoebius's writeup below down, not because I disagree about the good points made; humanitarian arguments are clearly suspect - since better effects could be produced by improving farming techniques and/or better distribution. However the long term benefits are not the issue that is usually argued, it is the dangers. I must reiterate (see: genetic pollution) that if you don't understand something don't use it in your argument. There's no particular reason you should understand genetics, but it does help.
- Crops are not GM pathogens.
- Ideas of 'harmony' in nature are overrated
- 'Emergent' does not equal natural.
- Natural does not equal 'good', necessarily.
By all means, disagree with multinationals about their seed policies - but don't condemn GM technology through ignorance of it. Yes the world is now a big laboratory, but unless you are prepared to build a second earth (Biosphere 3?) to test crops, then tough. There are much more important environmental issues (reefs dying, decreasing biodiversity...
) - concentrate on those.