When it comes to getting to the heart of the matter about genetically modified technology -- not to mention clearly explaining it -- Jon Entine does this as well as anyone. And Entine, who has written about genetic modification countless times, has the juice to back it up.
He is the founder of the Genetic Literacy Project and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California-Davis, as well as Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Entine believes that the tide is beginning to turn with regard to misconceptions about GM technology, a point he made last week at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia.
However, he was not there to praise Australia. Quite the opposite. Entine maintained that the country could be a leader in food biotechnology if politicians were willing to "make some real hard choices." But officials there have not.
"Australia helped develop the technology that developed the Arctic Apple," Entine said, "but they had to export it to Canada because there's no path to development in Australia.
"Do you want [Australia] to be an exporter of technology and ultimately see that part of the industry wither away?" Entine asked, blaming the logjam on the lack of leadership by Australian political leaders, while also raising this question: "Or do you want to be on the forefront of technological change that can actually feed the world in a constructive way? I think politicians need to make some real hard choices."
Entine also spoke of how (finally) attitudes regarding GMOs are slowly changing in support of the evidence. Recent statements from both President Obama and The New York Times have been pro-science even as their supporters have been most vocally against it.
"The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, well-known science publications [like the] Scientific American, the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy for Sciences -- these are all very, very well known progressive organizations," Entine said. "Every one of them have come out for the safety of GMO foods and for opposing mandatory labelling [of GMO foods] on the grounds that labelling, as it's been proposed in the U.S., would be very deceptive for a whole wide range of reasons." He added "that's a sea change. That wouldn't have happened a few years ago."
We at The Council could not agree more. It is long past time that these phony scares went away, and the science did the talking. Much of the world has had the wool pulled over its eyes by groups with a vested interest in keeping people afraid of new technology.