Updated on July 24, 2013
10 Reasons We Need/Don’t Need Biotech Foods and Crops
I found this Forbes article today with (horray!) an infographic about why we need GMOs. I definitely do not agree with all the points here – some of this information is cherry-picked and don’t tell the whole story. However, I thought it’d be useful to share the ‘pro’ side of GMOs, just as a food-for-thought exercise.
View the Infographic here – 10 Reasons We Need Biotech Foods and Crops
Below are 10 reasons why we don’t need GM foods – also written with some bias and cherry-picked quotes, but decent references and a counter argument to the above statements. I agree with more of, but not all the statements here as well.
One of the main reasons I would prefer to steer clear of GMOs is that I don’t believe they can solve world hunger issues. We can and do grow enough food to feed people, the problem is a matter of food distribution and poverty/inequality.
“40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where organic matter accounts for 16 percent of U.S. methane emissions. Nutrition is also lost in the mix—food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. Given all the resources demanded for food production, it is critical to make sure that the least amount possible is needlessly squandered on its journey to our plates”
Why can’t we take our unused food – from farm waste to consumer waste, and donate it, not only to hungry Americans, but to people in starving countries as well? If we are truly wasting this much, how can it be said that there is a shortage of food?
This is a great read on food waste (and where the above statement came from) – Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill
The other reason GMOs are on my ‘NO’ list is that although there has not been proof of human health concerns, there have been lots and lots of documented health problems in animals who eat such diets. Pro-GMO campaigns leave that part out. Just because there are not human impacts yet documented, does not mean in 10, 15, 20 years, there won’t be. And why would it make any sense at all that GMOs are harmful to other animals, but not humans?
To be fair, I do think there is some value in certain types of genetically modified crops. Golden rice, for example, can possibly provide some of the nutrients that certain populations lack due to inaccessibility to food. I think it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the situation. Vitamin A deficiencies, which Golden Rice primarily addresses, causes blindness eventually – so this is obviously an important issue to tackle. However, Golden Rice would be a temporary, quick-fix – because again, the real problem is poverty/lack of education/lack of accessibility to food/inequality.
Without addressing the root cause of hunger issues, my view is that GMOs are a band-aid with unknown consequences.