Monday, March 24, 2008

The light is dawning...

I have long advocated a posture of listening, explaining and patience in the public opinion battle over genetically modified plants (GM) in agriculture. Here is why: every day, every hour generates hard data on the safety and efficacy of these products. Simply waiting for this mounting evidence to sway doubters one by one may not make corporate boards reach their profit curves as rapidly as possible, but it does make the profit curves higher and longer.

Getting out of consumer's faces, stopping the acrimony against alternative foods (and their to date questionable benefits) costs less, allows room for consumers to change their minds with without appearing to cave, and generally raises the level of public conversation on this sensitive issue. Time is on our side - why not use it slightly better?

I was reinforced in my belief by this article in the Boston Globe - hardly a mouthpiece for GM adoption. While proponents could start linking and touting this in press releases, I think that lessens its power. Why not show some faith in the much doubted ability of people over time to eventually embrace rational solutions?
For anyone worried about the future of global agriculture, the story is instructive. The world faces an enormous challenge: Its growing population demands more food and other crops, but standard commercial agriculture uses industrial quantities of pesticides and harms the environment in other ways. The organic farming movement has shown that it is possible to dramatically reduce the use of insecticides, and that doing so benefits both farm workers and the environment. But organic farming also has serious limits - there are many pests and diseases that cannot be controlled using organic approaches, and organic crops are generally more expensive to produce and buy.

To meet the appetites of the world's population without drastically hurting the environment requires a visionary new approach: combining genetic engineering and organic farming. [More]
In short, take a look at how fast self-serving boasting palls from NCAA competitors and choose instead to celebrate with farmers and consumers a powerful tool to advance agriculture.

1 comment:

Ol James said...

Modifying a grain for disease and pest and weed resistance. Or a fiber crop..hmmm.
Botanist and Biologist and other branches of Science as well as farmers and growers have been doing this since there was Agriculture. To me, it is no different than trying to alter a rose for a deeper shade of blue, or a tomato for a less acidic taste. I try to do some Organic plots in my gardening. But when those beetles, ants and other critters start on the corn, beans, peas and others veggies elsewhere, you can bet your bippy I'm gonna put something on them to eradicate or at least slow down their progress, hopefully it won't be bad for other "good" insects and make me glow in the dark, or lose my train of what was I talking about??
Even the Organic crowd uses seeds and plants that have been modified from the "Heirloom" or original state of it's first introduction to enhance or hinder certain traits.
If GM will make it more cost effective to use over a few seasons, and cut out a few steps,( spraying for bugs, weeds and disease), and thus saving money while increasing yields and profits. I say..Let er Rip!! As long as I don't glow in the dark.