Why Am I Pro-GMO? [Yes, Really]

gmo

In case you haven’t noticed, GMOs are kind of a hot topic. Most folks who are fans of healthy eating and natural foods will tell you that GMOs are a fairly terrible thing.  They are nothing but bad news, and  consuming GMO foods will lead to all kinds of disease and detriment to health.

Well, pardon my backwoods français, but that’s a tractor load of horsecrap.

See, the anti-GMO movement is based predominantly on fear-mongering and emotional manipulation.  Science and reason? Who has time for that when you could be making posters for then next “March Against Monsanto” event?

The fact is that GMOs have been invaluable for us.  Without them, we would not be able to enjoy the plentiful food supply we have today.  Say what you will, but the contrast between starvation and malnutrition rates here in America  and those of most developing nations speaks for itself.  GMOs also have huge potential to create agricultural improvements that would help to alleviate those devastating trends of malnutrition and starvation where they are so prevalent [Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of undernourishment. {1}].

But what about safety and all those terrible, horrible, awful health effects that “natural” and “organic” activists claim are the result of GMOs? Well, those are nice stories, if your aim is to advance an conspiracy-theory agenda hellbent on taking down the agricultural industry.  If you are unfamiliar with the origins of your food – if you’ve never planted a crop or participated in a harvest, never cultivated a food from seed to supermarket – then GMOs will naturally be somewhat unsettling.  But to be quite honest, when you are as far removed from agriculture as the majority of Americans are, most agricultural practices may be unsettling for you.  That doesn’t mean the practices of the industry are inherently bad, but that they may be unfamiliar and require further education, experience, and immersion to understand their function, benefit, and risk.

[If you are interested in gaining a bit of insight to that end, a good place to start might be reading the articles linked here regarding “The Art of Agriculture.”]

In regards to the safety of GMO consumption, many studies have been done.  They are not as emotional as the alarmist claims of “cancer-causing GMOs,” nor as catchy as slogans like “Hell no GMO!”  They are, however, peer-reviewed and subject to the rigors of the scientific method.

Interestingly enough, the study results don’t match up with the rhetoric of the anti-GMO crowd.  In fact, no signs of toxicity nor health hazard has been found {2} to result from GMO consumption, whether direct consumption of GMO crops [i.e. corn] or secondary consumption [i.e. consuming meat from animals whose diets included GMO feed].

The furor over GMOs, both their use in agricultural practices and their labeling on grocery store shelves, is just one of the growing number of things that make me distrustful of the alternative health industry.  [More on that to come later – it deserves its own post, if not a whole series…]  In the kitchen, as in life, it’s best to listen to your heart but lead with your head.  Arguments that play on fear and emotion can be powerful – regardless of whether they are based on solid evidence or the whispiest of agendas.  Facts, while less romantic than rhetoric, have more bearing on reality, whether they match the claims of popular “gurus” or not.

For more on this topic, I highly suggest checking out the following:

TED Talk: “The Case for Engineering Our Food” by Pamela Ronald, Plant Geneticist [married to a farmer, coincidentally]

Chipotle’s Non-GMO Push Is Backed By Bad Science

Confessions of a Former Monsanto Employee

The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit

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What are your thoughts on GMOs and the “natural food” movement in general?

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