GMOs were a worry 40 years ago? Yes, though GMO insulin today is regarded as a gigantic success story for public health in this century, by 1977 the same political forces and activists still aligned against science now were present then. Just the names have changed…Today, activists universally call all genetic engineering a GMO, but back then the public knew a broader term, Recombinant DNA – which is what a GMO is, the transfer of genetic material from one organism to another plant or animal.
Yet the success of GMO insulin shows there is no reason to give up hope. Things change. In 1980, an unpopular President was swept out of office after one term, gas became affordable again and genetic engineering led to such a boom in food that no one in America is worried about starvation now like we were in the 1970s. Instead, we are worried Americans are too fat. Diabetes, once a death-sentence, is now the archetype for what managed disease looks like.
Forty years from now, we may regard the controversy over GMOs and Gene Drives and RNAi and whatever else activists try to scare us about as being just as quaint and naive as Rifkin and Michael Jacobson and Ralph Nader were about insulin.
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