Readers need to be very careful when considering the letter on genetically modified foods (GM foods) by Lorne Hepworth of CropLive, Canada. Mr. Hepworth is a scientist of sorts – a veterinarian – but in this instance he is representing the genetic foods industry. Anyone representing industry needs to be regarded tendentiously, as having an underlying purpose. The purpose in this case is the sale of GM foods for corporate profits.
Several of his statements are either wrong or unsupported. GM foods are not, as Mr. Hepworth indicates, producing increased yields nor are they part of a sustainable production method. There is increasing evidence that the crops are producing similar in not lower yields and require larger inputs of fertilizer. The quality of the food is also in question, as indicated by studies coming from Mexico as they compare the imported GM corn from the U.S. to their former native corn.
The GM food industry works in close harmony with the government and large corporations (who are quite generous with their political donations). It is not proven that GM foods are safe, and with much current research indicating that perhaps it is otherwise, the public should be able to choose. It is worth noting that the food industry using GM products, while extolling the virtues of the market, do not want the products labelled as such.
All GM products should be labelled as containing genetically modified materials, allowing the consumer to decide which they would rather have.
As for the argument that man has always been modifying crops (not presented by Mr. Hepworth), it is true, we have. But we have done so using ‘natural’ methods of selection and breeding, not by inserting genes from one plant – or animal – into another animal – or plant.
Scientists of any kind do not fully understand the complexity of interactions between the thousands of genes of even one animal, let alone other inserted genes, other chemicals, and all the environmental influences on top of that.
Judging from current studies, the ‘benefits’ of biotechnology are increasingly doubtful. They are not the magic solution for the future of agriculture.
Above all, be wary of industry “experts” extolling the virtues of an item they are promoting mainly for its ability to capture market share regardless of studies that place significant doubt on its supposed benefits.