By Gene Hall
Anti-GMO food activists are among the angriest and most mistrustful people in the world. I get the trust issues. It’s that kind of world, but I often wish we could put aside the anger for reasonable discussions.
I do not pretend to be a scientist, but I’ve studied this a lot. This issue comes into very sharp focus on the question of Golden Rice. We have the technology to introduce beta carotene and therefore Vitamin A into rice at the genetic level. Many children in the poorer regions of the world suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. They go blind from it. They are dying from it. We can fix a lot of that. The question is, “Why would we not?”
Allow Golden Rice Now is a project designed to overcome the objections of those who would stop biotechnology dead in its promising tracks. It is led by Dr. Patrick Moore, an environmentalist and co-founder of Greenpeace, who discovered that technology, especially this one, can actually improve the environment and human health.
Golden Rice was created by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, a nonprofit. The thin and tired arguments of “We don’t know” and “It hasn’t been tested” are simply not true, as these links clearly demonstrate.
Tuesday was National Agriculture Day. It was also the 100 birthday of Dr. Norman Borlaug, who birthed the “Green Revolution” with his genetic manipulation seven decades ago. He did not have today’s DNA tools to work with, but he said later that it was not a lot different. He saved millions from starving. There is just no doubt of that.
Borlaug had his detractors, too. Some said the work was not “sustainable.” Now, more than a half-century later, try that argument on people who would have otherwise starved to death.
Agricultural production capacity has exploded. In Borlaug’s day, there were dire predictions of worldwide famine. Now, we have Golden Rice and the same old arguments. Anti-GMO fever is a potent fundraising tool. That does not balance well against a proven technology that clearly will save the eyesight and even the lives of children.