GMO sanity from Dr. Fedoroff

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In an invited essay in Scientific American this week, Dr. Nina Fedoroff distinguished professor of biosciences at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and Evan Pugh professor at Penn State University explains why genetically engineered crops and foods benefit both people and the environment.

She points out that humans have been modifying plant genetics by cross-breeding for thousands of years, and that genetic engineering allows us to do it more quickly and even more safely. While one might expect that all the scientific research demonstrating the safety and benefits of such products would calm anyone s fears, Dr. Fedoroff notes that it does not.

In spite of the well-documented benefits of insect-resistant GM corn, which helps decrease fungal infestations and toxins, as well as the use of pesticides, there are anti-GMO activists who claim such plants aren t safe. Further, herbicide-resistant crops allow for more no-till farming, Dr. Fedroroff points out, thus decreasing the likelihood of topsoil loss.

In her essay Dr. Fedoroff points out Maybe it s worth remembering that technology vilification is about as old as technology itself. What s new is electronic gossip and the proliferation of organizations that peddle such gossip for a living.

We agree whole-heartedly with Dr. Fedoroff s statement, as in several states we have seen movements to require labeling of foods that contain GMO ingredients, ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava points out. Such labeling suggests that there is some sort of problem with GMO foods which is absolutely not true, she continues.