USDA continues to show support for GM crops, Washington Post reports
The Washington Post points out that the USDA has continued to strengthen the position of GM crops with the approval of GM alfalfa, GM corn and limited approval of GM sugar beets. The article notes that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has “long supported genetic engineering.” Read more.
Genetic modification used to fight banana disease in Uganda, CNN reports
According to CNN, research shows that genetic modification may help to fight banana disease in Uganda, the world’s second largest producer of the crop. Thirty percent of Uganda’s banana crop has been infected with the disease. Professor Wilberforce Tushemereirwe at the National Banana Research Program, which is leading the research project, says, “Results from the lab were promising.” He added in the article, “indications are that the field results will follow suit.” Read more
New York Times dispels notion that genetic modification is unnatural
The New York Times Freakonomics blog put to rest the assertion that GMOs are “unnatural” in a recent post titled “GMOs and Mother Nature? Closer Than You Think.” The author, James McWilliams, cites a discovery by Swedish scientists that cross-species gene transfer happens even without human intervention in nature, and has been occurring for 700,000 years. This supports the scientific position that genetic modification is just a continuation of the trait selection, and underscores the importance of not excluding any means of food production by incorrectly deeming it “unnatural.” Mr. McWilliams writes, “To divide the precious manifestation of that fight - our food supply - into “real” and “frankenfood” insults not only those who grow and produce our food, but nature itself.” Read more.
Scientists recognize need for GM to feed growing population
According to a Reuters article, the world’s population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050, and many scientists agree that it will take a variety of farming approaches to feed this increased population, including the application of genetically modified crops. Sir Gordon Conway, an agricultural ecologist and former President of the Royal Geographical Society, says “the organic movement has to evolve, to recognize the enormity of the challenge we’ve got, and look more seriously at sound, sustainable ecological approaches which make minimal use of inorganic fertilizers, industrial pesticides and GM.” Read more.
Golden rice’s golden opportunity
Golden rice could convince skeptics of the technology’s benefits, according to a recent Atlantic article. Golden rice is rice that has been genetically engineered to produce beta-carotene, which the body processes into vitamin A, and which can stave off blindness in children in developing nations. The rice, which was produced through a public-private partnership and will likely become available in the next year or two, has the potential to improve the health of millions and provides a concrete example for consumers of the benefits of genetic modification. Read more.