Response to Grist’s Johnson: Ramez Nam on why GMOs matter—especially for the developing world

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After Grist ran What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters, Nathanael Johnson’s essay concluding his “Panic-Free GMOs” series, the environmental blog heard from a lot of people who think that GMOs really do matter. Grist featured three of them, and GLP will feature them all in the coming days.

This response is from Ramez Naam, author of The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. Naam agrees with many of Johnson’s summary conclusions but parts ways with the Grist writer’s summary statement that “none of it matters”.

I think there are two important reasons we should care about GMOs, and view them, certainly not as panaceas, but as imperfect but important tools that can improve the lives of millions of people right now and possibly have an impact on billions of lives and millions of square miles of nature in the decades to come.

The bigger point here isn’t that we absolutely need GMOs to feed the future world. … but given the size of the challenge, and the absence of any credible evidence of harm from GMOs, robbing ourselves of this part of our toolkit strikes me as foolish.

GM crops have more impact in poor countries than rich ones. Where other types of inputs, like fertilizers, farm equipment, and pesticides are harder to afford, GM crops have more to offer. That can help increase food, reduce pressure on deforestation, and lift farmers out of poverty.

Read full original article: Why GMOs matter—especially for the developing world

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