Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prince Charles is obviously an agricultural expert

Proponent of 'natural' ideologies such as homeopathy, Prince Charles is speaking out against Genetically Modified (GM) foods. He truly thinks that it will be the end of the food supply and basically have apocalyptic ramifications. His ranting can be seen here. However, it is important to address the real concerns with GM foods as we eat them virtually everyday.

  • One concern is that GM foods will lead to more allergens.
    • As with any consumer product, especially with products involving food and pharmaceuticals, the producers/manufacturers put whatever they are planning on selling through rigorous testing. No sane manufacturer would (or really could with ease due to regulation) put a product on the market that will set off allergies in such a way that they are dangerous. Also, GM engineers can design the food in such a way to reduce allergens.
  • Another concern is that GM foods could inadvertently become an invasive species that would destroy the natural plant life.
    • This is a legitimate concern, especially given the current situation with invasive species. However, at this time there are not any cases of this happening and thus no need for alarm.
  • Health ramifications.
    • Current GM foods have been deemed safe to consume, and no adverse side effects have been recorded. Also, GM foods are generally more resistant to parasites and disease thus able to be grown with lesser amounts of chemicals and pesticides.

Besides, not a single fruit, grain, or animal we eat looks anything like they did over 10,000 years ago around the beginning of the agricultural revolution. We have been selectively breeding plants and animals to meet our needs for thousands of years thus leading to genetic modification. Unfortunately it has taken forever, but now we have the capabilities to speed this process up and allows engineers to control for various problems that arise. One such problem in the future may be a lack of genetic diversity which could lead to an entire crop getting wiped out. Still this is already a foreseen possibility and thus can be controlled for. The idea of 'natural food' is a silly one, and all to often leads many health and environment conscience people to making the naturalistic fallacy by thinking that anything 'natural' is better simply for that reason. However, all of our food has been derived from its less than desirable ancestors over time and are thus not natural.


David Plumb

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