Molecular Biologists: Defenders of the naturally unnatural

I saw a blog post today from Byron Richards a nutritionist who blogs on news with views decrying the dangers of genetically modified food. From what I can see, he has been a long-time vocal opponent of Monsanto’s GMO corn seeds which now make up (according to his numbers) 90% of the US Soy crop and 85% of the US corn crop.

Many pens have been broken on the subject of Monsanto’s GMO technology and I will not revisit the issue in this post (especially since I cannot afford to break my only keyboard). However, I do believe that we, as molecular biologists, need to educate the general public regarding the wonderful benefits of genetic engineering and modification. The Monsanto issue is kind of passé and has been around for years. Today, you can’t really walk into a grocery store without encountering GMO foods. In fact, unless it has been labeled otherwise (such as organic) I’d bet that we’re safe to assume that the food on the grocery store shelf has been genetically modified in one way or another. In Europe it is the law to label GMO foods but in the US and Canada, if you want to avoid GMO foods you’re in for a tough ride (although there are websites that give tips on how to avoid GMO foods if that’s your wish).

The court seems to still be on the fence regarding the pros and cons of GMO foods. Nonetheless, we need to be careful that the baby doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater. I do not need to review in this forum, with such an educated scientific audience, how genetic engineering has helped produce amazing technologies and has saved countless lives (not to mention countless lab tech jobs). However, I do want to reiterate that whenever we have a chance to educate the lay public about genetic engineering and it’s benefits it behooves us to do so.

What positive anecdotes do you have to share with us on this subject?

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