The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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GMO Foods Cont’d

Keith Kloor argues in Discover magazine that “the worst misinformation and myths about genetically modified foods has spread from the anti-GMO fringes to the mainstream.”  He feels that the anti-GMO movement is based on fear and not science.  To back up his view he quotes an article published in Scientific American by Pam Ronald, a University of California plant geneticist:

There is broad scientific consensus that genetically engineered crops currently on the market are safe to eat. After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of 2 billion acres planted, no adverse health or environmental effects have resulted from commercialization of genetically engineered crops (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Committee on Environmental Impacts Associated with Commercialization of Transgenic Plants, National Research Council and Division on Earth and Life Studies 2002). Both the U.S. National Research Council and the Joint Research Centre (the European Union’s scientific and technical research laboratory and an integral part of the European Commission) have concluded that there is a comprehensive body of knowledge that adequately addresses the food safety issue of genetically engineered crops (Committee on Identifying and Assessing Unintended Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods on Human Health and National Research Council 2004; European Commission Joint Research Centre 2008).

A reader responds to Kloor’s dismissing the European approach that “until proven safe, we’re gonna, like, avoid this stuff.”

The Europeans have simply taken an approach that is closer to what a normal, sensible individual would take. When a certain amount of evidence accumulates suggesting that something is not good for you, it makes eminent sense to say “Well, then I’m not going to consume this thing until someone can show me that it isn’t harming me.” The North American approach is to say “Go for it until it can be irrefutably demonstrated that this is doing something bad.” Of course one never gets to the point where the evidence is considered irrefutable. This same tired way of framing the problem has been used relentlessly by Monsanto, climate change deniers, the tobacco industry, etc., etc.

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Asia Curbs US imports of wheat after genetically modified sample found

Genetically modified wheat

The discovery of rogue genetically modified wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon shook global confidence in the safety of America’s food supply on Friday.

Billions in food exports were potentially at stake following the disclosure by the US Department of Agriculture of the existence of the GM wheat plants.

The GM variant, developed by the agricultural giant Monsanto, has never been approved for human consumption.

The discovery in Oregon, about a decade after field trials ended in that state, raised concerns among the main buyers of America’s wheat abroad, as well as an increasingly active GM movement at home.

The European Union advised member states on Friday to test some wheat shipments from the US. The EU imports more than 1.1m tonnes of wheat a year.

Asia was also shutting its doors to American wheat imports. South Korea, which last year imported half of its wheat from the US, cancelled imports, following Japan‘s lead. Thailand puts its ports on alert. China and the Philippines said they were closely watching the USDA’s investigations into the GM escape.

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