Commentary: Kissing GMOs goodbye
Part of the problem surrounding the failure of the food-buying public to understand genetic engineering is the previously mentioned sea of information upon which we all travel daily. There’s just so little time—or cognitive reserves—to dig down into technical or scientific topics for a deeper understanding or a more reasoned perspective of what are complex, nuanced controversies.
But an equally critical factor is the terminology itself. For everyone who grows genetically engineered crops, who feeds livestock with those crops or who is involved in processing and marketing food products using ingredients from those plants, it’s time to stop using the term “GMOs”—now and forever.
GMOs aren’t entities, or “creatures,” as so many people imagine. GMOs don’t’ “make their way” into foods, and they don’t exist as living organisms in the environment, the way pathogenic bacteria like E. coli or salmonella do.
It’s past time for industry to collectively refer to “biotechnology” as a legitimate scientific endeavor that has many, many applications other than food crops, such as in medicine and manufacturing, that the majority of Americans do not want to abandon. And for the improved strains of crops developed with biotechnology, it’s time to refer to “genetic modification” as a process, not a pathogen.
There will always be plenty of anti-industry operatives who will continue to savagely attack biotech, as if the scientific applications it has spawned are some sort of plague on humanity.
But those involved in animal agriculture and food production need to stop enabling them by getting sucked into the game of using the term GMOs.
They want to ban the science altogether.
I think we only need to ban the label.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.