The Public’s Stance on GMOs

This time last year, a video from Jimmy Kimmel’s show circulated online with some of my “agvocate” friends. You can watch it for yourself here. But in brief, when random people on the street are asked simply what GMO stands for, they have no idea. I also remember a video that was a similar format as this, however the question asked was “Are you in favor of biotechnology?” Guess what – everyone said yes, even though they said no to the next question “Are you in favor of GMOs?”

Mark Lynas explained in this video how he took a scientific approach to understanding GMOs and was one of the more interesting stories on how he changed his view. He was known for “attacking the science of GM” in many editorials even though he had  “done no academic research on the topic and had a very limited personal understanding.” This all changed when one of the commenters said this.

“So you’re opposed to GM on the basis it’s marketed by big corporations. Are you also opposed to the wheel because it’s marketed by the big auto companies?”

Lynas was intrigued and began researching into GMOs and made his own science-based conclusions from them. He went out of his way to understand them instead of continuing to vilify the science behind them. In his talk, he also said this notable quote which has stuck with me.

“Thus, desperately needed agricultural innovation is being strangled by a suffocating burden of regulations that are not based on any rational scientific assessment of risk. Indeed, the risk today is not that anyone will be harmed by GM food, but that millions of people will be harmed by not having enough to eat because of the vocal minority in rich countries who want their meals to be what they consider to be natural”

It is my dream that one day the general public will be able to accept and understand the science behind genetic modification. I wish that one day the public will be able to understand the possibilities that GMO crops could have. It might not be possible to ask this generation of politicians and decision makers to make rational decisions on biotechnology, but I have high hopes for the millennial generation. It is going to be an uphill battle, but we will need strong “agvocates” to speak on the behalf of science and reason.

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