In a recent issue of the Seattle Times, the University of California’s Martina McGloughlin recounted the sordid history of activist campaigns aimed at genetically improved foods. From the tall tales about Monarch butterflies, to the “tainted taco story,” and the Mexican corn drama played out in the pages of the journal Nature, McGloughlin noted that each case brought public outrage and group-high-fives from the activists — until the facts came in.
“None of the biotech scare stories proved to be true,” she concludes. “But that doesn’t mean there won’t be others cut from the same cloth. They are easy to do and have [the] potential to stir reader emotion.”
The next chapter in this saga may be written overseas, where some famine-stricken African nations have been exacerbating their plight by refusing to accept genetically modified grain as food aid. Zimbabwe made news this weekend by finally agreeing to put its people’s hunger ahead of activists’ unscientific superstitions.
And writing in Canada’s National Post, Ronald Bailey sees yet another cadre of opponents bent on destroying biotech food advances. A genetically engineered food ban, says Bailey, “is not really a safety precaution — it’s a barrier to trade.” Bailey notes that “one scientific panel after another has concluded that biotech foods are safe to eat. Even an EU review issued last fall of 81 separate European studies of genetically modified organisms found no evidence” that they “posed any new risks to human health or the environment.”
Pointing fingers at both anti-globalist organizers and European trade protectionists, Bailey warns that “to protect their farmers from competition, the Eurocrats seem willing to wreck the WTO and incidentally starve millions in the developing world.”