An open letter to Oprah
Come to my farm. Visit the land that I’ve worked since I was a boy. See this place so that you’ll never again let bad articles on agriculture tarnish the pages of your magazine or the pixels on your Web site.
If you accept this invitation to have a firsthand look at how an Iowa farmer produces healthy food in an economically and environmentally sustainable way, you’ll perform an important service to your readers and viewers–because right now, they’re receiving a very mistaken impression about what we grow and what everyone eats.
In the May issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, writer Rachel Mount discusses genetically modified food. She asks a fair question: “What impact do GM foods have on our health?” But her answer–“no one really knows”–is absurd.
No one really knows?
That’s not what a number of globally respected organizations say: The American Dietetic Association, the American Medical Association, the Research Council of the National Academies of Science, and the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization all agree that GM foods are safe and nutritious.
Yet Mount doesn’t look to any of these authorities. Instead, she runs straight for the anti-GM busybodies who have made it their profession to protest mainstream American farming. One source compares GM crops to DDT and “countless other harmful chemicals.” Another suggests that we won’t know for another 30 years what science has to say about food with GM ingredients.
This is nonsense on stilts. It’s like saying we shouldn’t heat our food with electromagnetic radiation because we just can’t be certain about the long-term health effects of microwave ovens. Many of us didn’t grow up with these tools in our kitchens, but they aren’t exactly an unproven technology.
Neither are GM crops. We’ve been growing them for almost a generation, all over the world. Farmers have harvested billions of acres of them. People have eaten trillions of servings of food derived from these sources. Although they haven’t caused a single health problem anywhere, Mount hints darkly at “the possibility of creating brand-new allergens.”
If she’s going to say that, she should also inform her readers that no scientist has ever shown GM food to make anybody so much as sneeze.
Mount even claims that one study shows that hamsters lose their reproductive abilities when they’re fed a diet of GM soy. This is junk science: Dozens of other animal studies contradict this finding and show that biotech food is safe to eat.