Letters: Take a kinder look at good old-fashioned GMOs

In a nation where biotech and pharmaceuticals are leading the world industry, it’s appalling that there are such academic inaccuracies.

Does anyone understand that scientists aren’t actually piecing together slices of DNA to create frankenfoods? Have you ever heard of corn? That is a naturally occurring genetically-modified organism (as in, it didn’t exist 500 years ago until a random cross-pollination mutation of maize and wheat occurred, and we simply kept growing it.)

When it comes to apples, genetic engineering simply means cross-pollination, and selecting favorable phenotypes (aka physical descriptors). They are specifically selecting the larger (and less flavored) to simply feed more people per apple. Genetic engineering in general isn’t what its namesake and stigma lead most laymen to believe.

Matt Brosnan, via email

Humans have been genetically modifying crops and livestock for thousands of years through selective breeding and the hybridization of plants.

Genetic engineering is simply a much faster and more precise way of giving our food organisms the characteristics that we want them to have. Crops have been genetically modified to resist insect attacks, thereby reducing the need to use pesticides that harm the environment.

Golden rice is genetically modified to contain provitamin A and is intended for distribution in poor, rural areas where nutrient deficiency is a huge problem. Sadly, some golden rice crops in the Philippines were recently destroyed by ignorant mobs who believed that GMOs were somehow dangerous.

The spreading of false information by well-intentioned but uninformed people is surely a contributing factor to this sort of tragic behavior.

Kelton Barnsley, via email


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