Steven Novella is an American clinical neurologist and assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine. He is best known for his involvement in the skeptical movement and is editor of the blog Science-Based Medicine.
A recent New York Times article, in my opinion, is a good example of what happens when a journalist writes about a complex and contentious topic and allows their narrative to overtake the facts….
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Genetic modification is a tool, and is not inherently tied in any way to the two currently most common applications, herbicide resistance and pest resistance. Anti-GMO propaganda, however, frequently conflates the technology with these specific applications, because these particular traits carry no direct benefit for the consumer, and are tied to scary chemicals.
The promise of genetic modification, rather, is that it provides a tool for agricultural scientists to make more rapid and more specific changes to crop cultivars. The technology has completely fulfilled that promise. The technology works, it is safe with no demonstrable inherent risks beyond any other method of crop development.
The claim that the current applications of GM technology has not increased crop yield is also a red herring. None of the current applications were designed to increase yield. In fact, what herbicide resistant and pesticide producing GMOs are really for is increasing profits and convenience for farmers. Farmers are the customers of seed companies.
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It is legitimate to analyze the impact of a new technology, and examine how it is being implemented. The notion, however, that early hype is not being fulfilled is just pointless…it is also demonstrably wrong.
In my opinion [Danny] Hakim’s article in the Times was a hack piece with a biased narrative that is nothing more than a rehash of tired anti-GMO tropes that have already been widely deconstructed. He is entering this conversation late, and isn’t up to speed.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: The Times Gets it Wrong on GMOs