Nassim Taleb is right: Supporters of genetically modified foods ignore uncertainties

hamburger caution gmo warning x

How can so many smart people, including many scientists, be so sure that there’s nothing to worry about genetically modified food? Judging from a new paper by several researchers from New York University, including “The Black Swan” author Nassim Taleb, they can’t and shouldn’t.

The researchers focus on the risk of extremely unlikely but potentially devastating events. They argue that there’s no easy way to decide whether such risks are worth taking — it all depends on the nature of the worst-case scenario.

In some cases, as Taleb explained in “The Black Swan,” experience and ordinary risk analysis are inadequate to understand the probability or scale of a devastating outcome. GMOs are an excellent example. Despite all precautions, genes from modified organisms inevitably invade natural populations, and from there have the potential to spread uncontrollably through the genetic ecosystem. There is no obvious mechanism to localize the damage.

Related article:  Black Swan author Nassim Taleb claims GMOs could lead to eco-disaster

Science is at its best when it acknowledges uncertainty and focuses on defining how much can be known. In the case of GMOs, we know far too little for our own good.

ADVERTISEMENT

Read full, original articleThe Trouble With the Genetically Modified Future

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
Send this to a friend