Uncontested Facts about Genetic Modification
- "Selective breeding" refers to human techniques for altering the genome of living things using sexual reproduction (or whatever is their "natural" breeding activity). This is sometimes referred to as "artificial selection", in contrast with the "natural selection" described by Charles Darwin in his book 'On The Origin of Species...' which launched evolutionary biology.
- Genetic Modification (GM) or Genetic Engineering (GE) refers a set of techniques by which humans alter the genome of living things without using selective breeding or other naturally occurring mechanisms of reproduction.
- Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is a term applied to living things that are a product of GM.
- A "transgenic" organism is a GMO that has genes from other, unrelated species, inserted into its genome.
Claims and Counterclaims about Genetic Modification
1. opposition to GM food plants and animals is based on an anti-science moral panic
1.There are sound scientific reasons to be sceptical about GM food plants and animals
2. GM is promoted because of the many benefits it can bring to people and the environment
|3. GMOs brought to market so far have realised many of the potential benefits of GM
||3. GMOs brought to market so far have failed to realise any of the claimed benefits of GM|
|4. Golden Rice(TM) is an ideal solution to the problem of vitamin A deficiency in poor countries
5a. So called "superweeds" are the result of natural selection of plants with inherent herbicide resistance, nothing to do with GMOs.
5. The viruses used to insert foreign DNA into a genome to make GMOs can result in "horizontal gene transfer" to other plants, animals, and perhaps even humans.
5a. Horizontal gene transfer from the herbicide resistant RoundUp-Ready Soy GMO has lead to the increased emergence of "superweeds" resistent to herbicides.
|6. GM is promoted heavily by corporations involved in agribusiness mainly because there is good reason to believe it is the best way to increase the global food supply, solve world hunger, and reduce the amount of agricultural poisons sprayed on food crops.
||6. GM is promoted heavily by corporations involved in "agribusiness" (poisons, tractors, hybrid seeds etc) mainly because it allows living things like food crops to be treated as inventions, and patented, increasing corporate control of the world food supply|
|7. GMO crops are substantially equivalent to non-GMO crops
7. GMO crops are far from "substantially equivalent" to non-GMO crops.
2016 Mésnage R et al, 'An integrated multi-omics analysis of the NK603 Roundup-tolerant GM maize reveals metabolism disturbances caused by the transformation process' published in 'Scientific Reports', an open access journal published by Nature.
Points of Interest
- The International Service for the Acquisition of Agro-Biotech Applications maintains a database of transgenic GMO crop plants.
- Global organisations that are anti-GMO include the Institute for Responsible Technology, Organic Consumers Association,
- Global organisations that are pro-GMO include the Genetic Literacy Project (a front group of the US conservative think tank Center for Media and Public Affairs),
- Local organisations in Aotearoa that are anti-GMO include GE-Free NZ, Soil and Health Association of NZ (publishers of OrganicNZ magazine),
- Local organisations in Aotearoa that are pro-GMO include
Life Sciences Network
(defunct, preceded by GenePool and succeeded by BioScience News, both also defunct),
(March 2017 press release),
- In 2016, AlterNet published an article on Biotech corporation PR tactics entitled 'Food From Mommy Bloggers to Clandestine Spies, Here's How Monsanto's PR Company Controls the GMO Debate'
- Also in 2016, Marc Lallanilla, Staff Writer at LiveScience.com, posted 'GMOs: Facts About Genetically Modified Food'
- Also in 2016, Ana-Marija Dolaskie wrote a pro-GM piece entitled 'Yes, There Are GMOs In Your DNA. If Not, You're Dead' for the website of the conservative US think tank American Council on Science and Health
- In 2015, regular Slate writer William Saletan published a pro-GE article with the title 'Unhealthy Fixation', claiming that "The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud".
- Also in 2015, a blog piece called '10 studies proving GMOs are harmful? Not if science matters' was posted by the Genetic Literacy Project. The piece was attributed to Layla Katiraee (now Parker-Katiraee), a Canadian industry-friendly expert who has worked as a "Senior Scientist in Product Development at a California biotech company". Parker-Katiraee also blogs regularly on Biofortified.org, and started the 'FrankenFoodFacts' blog in 2013, which claims to be an "independent investigation into the validity of claims made by pro- and anti- GMO groups".
- In 2014, known climate change FUD writer Keith Kloor had a pro-GE article published on the website of DiscoverMagazine entitled 'On Double Standards and the Union of Concerned Scientists'
- In 2013, microbiologist Kevin Bonham wrote a pro-GE guest blog in Scientific American entitled 'Allergic to Science-Proteins and Allergens in Our Genetically Engineered Food', with links to a number of other pro-GE articles related to cancer, farmer suicides, and herbicide resistant weeds
- In November 2007 Prospect magazine ran a pro-GMO article called 'The real GM food scandal' by Dick Taverne. This was followed in December that year by a series of anti-GMO articles, including:
- 'Genetic Escapism' by Jonathon Porritt
- 'Revolution on Ice' by Helen Wallace
- 'Rethinking Agriculture' by Colin Tudge
- 'The Hidden Costs' by Malcolm Kane
- In 2002, investigative journalist Nicky Hagar published 'Seed of Distrust', which exposed illegal use of genetically modified maize in Aotearoa(NZ)
- In 1999, Dick Taverne had a pro-GMO article published in Prospect Magazine called 'Against Anti-Science', an early example of the application of the "anti-science" trope to the GM issue. Taverne is a British Baron, who was a UK MP from 1962-1974. He is a consistently pro-business and anti-environmentalist writer, who has also written cheerleading articles on the nuclear power industry, and attack articles on the organic food movement.