No GMOs? How about a helping of irradiated mutant fruits and veggies instead?

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Image via Big Think

Opponents of genetically modified food might not know that the “healthy, natural” food they’re eating has been blasted by radiation and doused with mutation-inducing chemicals, a “far more crude and less predictable” breeding method, writes David Ropeik, risk assessment expert.

Despite its scary-sounding name, mutation breeding is perfectly safe. There is no evidence that these plants pose any risk to humans, nor do they affect the environment “any more than any other newly-introduced hybrid.” The radiation only speeds up the natural process of mutation within a plant’s genome.

Even though plants bred through industrial means may intuitively seem risky, “unnatural is not automatically unsafe.” Why are crops bred by mutation acceptable, when genetically modified plants—which are developed using a much more precise method—are not?

Risk perception research has established that “risks that we are used to don’t scare us as much as risks that are unfamiliar.” Mutation breeding has been employed for much longer than genetic modification. This risk has been on plates for decades. We’re used to it.

Years from now, this is how we’ll feel about GM food, which will “almost surely make their way to our meals and do us no harm.”

So here’s a suggestion: “Why don’t we think a little more carefully about this whole GM food fuss, and get beyond the appealing but simplistic assumption that natural is automatically good and unnatural is automatically bad.” That way we can take advantage, sooner, of the potential benefits of biotechnology.­­­

Read the full, original story: No GMOs? How About a Helping of Irradiated Mutant Plants and Veggies Instead.

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