Genetically modified and engineered crops (GMs), commonly referred to as “frankenfood” by activists who oppose the altered plants, have recently been given a vote of confidence in the eyes of the global agricultural community.
“In an announcement that drew little attention in November, China said it had approved biotech rice and corn varieties, which some believe could be the beginning of a broader acceptance of the 16-year-old technology,” According to an article in USA Today.
This announcement means a lot of things to a lot of people. To those countries that still oppose GMs like almost all in Europe and most of Asia and Aftrica, this is bad news because the pressure is on to abandon the agricultural methods that they have kept for centuries.
However, for those countries that support GMs, such as the United States, the adoption of these crops in China means the rapid expansion of an industry that could potentially provide people with jobs, and allow scientists to gain support to produce more crops with specific benefits to each country’s agricultural environment.
Although there are still some questionable methods involving the production and distribution of these GMs, it cannot be denied that GMs are now a much-needed necessity in every country.
Much of the argument against this “frankenfood” is not based on scientific fact and but purely on emotional attachment. Almost every serious argument put forward is simply accusing scientists of not testing enough (considered the precautionary principle), or not having long term research done, even though much of this product has been in our food and on the fields for more than a decade.
The truth is that genetically modified foods have been helping the U.S. sustain its population growth and should be used to help other countries as well. Many countries soon to receive these GMs, such as those in Asia and Africa, are in desperate need of corn that can grown in drought conditions, or rice that has self producing pesticides.
The health of the world supersedes the complaints of select groups of activists and it’s great that China will help in pushing that initiative forward. China is now the biggest investor in public GM crop research in the world and will rapidly influence the countries surrounding them.
The argument that these seeds and crops are distributed and controlled by heartless corporations falls flat on its face in the case of China, as much of the GM crop will be produced by smaller businesses. The genetically modified corn being produced throughout the nation may be used to produce feed for pigs, cows and chickens that are abused and injected with growth hormones. That corn may also be used to make high-fructose corn syrup, a product that contributes to the rising count of people with diabetes. However for third-world countries, a crop that is resistant to any manner of weather issues, pest issues and tough-to-farm soil, is an absolute life or death necessity.
In the end we should be blaming our own food industry for abusing these GMs, not the scientists attempting to make this world a better place for people to live.
This quote from the USA Today article by Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit group in Washington, D.C., best explained the situation: “Farmers are smart people … they wouldn’t continue to grow these over the years if in fact they weren’t beneficial to them.”
‘Frankenfood’ is Good for Us
News Mar 22, 2010