Peter Singer on GMOs and the dangers of the European precautionary obsession

| | November 7, 2014
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Peter Singer is the world’s most prominent and controversial moral philosopher. He talked with Lars Mensel and Max Tholl about techno-skepticism, trash TV, and why our becoming less human might ultimately save humanity:

I am dissenting from the idea that we should be more suspicious of technology. I am not particularly troubled by our relationship with technology — I am troubled by our relationship with some particular technologies. But the general attitude that technology is a bad thing is a mistake.

There have been some negative consequences from attempting to genetically modify pigs in order to make them more compatible with humans for organ donation. Those pigs have suffered all sorts of health problems. And they haven’t produced compatible organs, haven’t solved the problem of organ shortage.

There are some positive effects from genetically modifying crops. Genetically modified corn in the United States is resistant to some pests and is generally considered a good thing. Golden rice is a modified crop that we haven’t yet allowed to be grown on a wide scale, but it looks like a promising way to overcome vitamin A deficiency in countries where rice is the staple food — and could save the lives of many children who would otherwise die. It doesn’t look like there is any major downside to it. That is an example of a technology with an entrenched opposition on grounds that certainly had some basis when GMOs were introduced. I am not saying they have no basis anymore — we still need to be careful — but the testing has been quite extensive and the benefits are as significant as they can be. It is time to say: “Let’s be cautious but not have an ideological opposition to anything that is genetically modified; let’s go ahead with it.”

Read full, original interviewPeter Singer: ‘We Need To Be More Cautious With Our Caution’

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
a a b b a f ac a

Video: Death by COVID: The projected grim toll in historical context

The latest statistics, as of July 10, show COVID-19-related deaths in U.S. are just under 1,000 per day nationally, which is ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
types of oak trees

Infographic: Power of evolution? How oak trees came to dominate North American forests

Over the course of some 56 million years, oaks, which all belong to the genus Quercus, evolved from a single undifferentiated ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend