CBS Sunday Morning: Is GMO Fear Justified?

Dr. Pam Ronald, a proponent of GMO crops. CBS NEWS
Dr. Pam Ronald, a proponent of GMO crops. CBS NEWS

“The big question is: Is all this fear justified?”

CBS Sunday Morning aired a cover story on the Safety of GMOs this morning that takes a look at the origin of genetically engineering food and the opposition to the idea of genetically altering our food. The story features perspectives from plant pathologist, Dennis Gonsalves and his work to save Hawaiian papayas, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, a senior scientist at the Pesticide Action Network, Hugh Grant, the CEO of Monsanto, and Dr. Pam Ronald, a plant geneticist at the University of California – Davis.

Take a few moments to read the story from CBS and watch the video below. Three key things that stand out to me from Barry Petersen’s story:

1) Genetic engineering as we know it today, began by saving Hawaiian papaya farms. The debate on GMO safety persists despite support from scientific communities (while most of us agree Americans fall behind in scientific education).

2) We have so many possibilities ahead for Genetic Modification – drought, flood, disease tolerance. These are especially important as we experience changes in weather patterns combined with a growing global demand for food. Pay attention to Dr. Ronald’s comments, then take time to watch her TED Talk: The case for engineering our food.

3) One of the most promising fields is aiding nutrition in third world countries – example: Golden Rice. Hunger is a real concern, both at home and abroad. To restrict our ability to raise food in adverse conditions is to deny opportunity to those who need access to food most. You have to appreciate the sentiment that closed out the segment:

Faced with increasing anti-GMO public opinion, the push to ban them is accelerating in rich countries where there is so much food that obesity is a major health issue.

Yet, their biggest impact could one day be on the increasingly hungry third world — a lesson not lost of Dennis Gonsalves, the man whose genetic engineering saved Hawaii’s papayas.

“We in the United States, we’re rich, we have a lot of food, no problem,” he said. “But a lot of these people in these other countries don’t have much food. And that reaction is really harming the people most in need.”

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