You don't have to be a farmer or a food scientist to know that genetically-modified food is a heated, divisive issue. Everyone has an opinion on whether it's safe or dangerous, harmful or helpful. But as with most issues that elicit strong reactions on both sides, it can be difficult to cut through the drama and just look at the facts.
This week Nature, one of the premiere weekly journals of scientific research, devotes their entire issue to discussing GMOs to illuminate what's true, what's false, and what's still unknown about genetically-modified food. If you're new to the GMO debate, this is a great place to start:
It's fitting that Nature delves into this issue, as it was 30 years ago this month that the journal first published the news it was possible to place "functional foreign genes" into plant cells. At the time, this discovery "promised to make life easier and nature’s bounty even more desirable," as the journal's editors wrote. But as everyone knows, that's not what happened. "Biological wizardry" was relabeled "Frankenfood," and misinformation abounded on both sides of the aisle.
So where does that leave us? To be fair, it leaves us needing to look at the evidence truthfully to gauge what's happened, what's working, and what still needs change.
Read the full issue → GM Crops: Promise and Reality | Nature
I found these articles particularly interesting:
- Plant Biotechnology: Tarnished Promise: "Genetically modified crops generate hype and hatred. A special section of Nature cuts through the drama."
- Fields of Gold: "Research on transgenic crops must be done outside industry if it is to fulfil its early promise."
- Case Studies: A Hard Look at GM Crops: "Superweeds? Suicides? Stealthy genes? The true, the false and the still unknown about transgenic crops."
- Transgenics: A New Breed: "The next wave of genetically modified crops is making its way to market — and might just ease concerns over 'Frankenfoods'."
- Nature Podcast: "GMO Crops: Helpful or Harmful?"
(Image: Emma Christensen)