Why we cannot gamble on genetically modified foods


RE: “More debate needed regarding GMOs” (The New Times, January 26).

This is a very timely editorial. No one can be against scientific progress from which humanity has derived countless benefits.

It is nevertheless also important to recall the many instances where for-profit scientific breakthroughs have brought humanity dangerous products marketed by those with financial interests in them as silver bullets to our many problems.

Think asbestos, think DDT, think plastics, and hundreds of other products. Think also of such disasters as Bhopal, Chernobyl, Fukushima and similar catastrophes whose damaging effects will last for thousands of years.

What these tell us is that left to their own devices, corporations are prepared to play Russian roulette with humanity’s survival.

And nothing can be scarier than handing our food security to the ones whose abiding interest is to maximize their own profits, without any concern for the externalities they generate in pursuit of that narrow self-interest.

In falsely claiming no adverse health effects from GMOs (when they have done everything in their considerable power to prevent long-term studies of such effects), the GMO industry and their well-funded army of lobbyists already show they cannot be trusted. Thus the need to fully apply the precautionary principle to the introduction of their products and to put the onus on them to prove both the benefits and benign health effects of these highly-chemically impregnated ‘foods’.

And the necessary scientific studies to ascertain the veracity of their claims must involve truly independent researchers outside those they employ or to whom they have extended their largesse, including known skeptics about the benefits and the healthy and environmental effects of GMOs.

Food is too critical to the survival of all living things and our environment to transfer to the control of those whose sole interest is narrow profit-maximization. Let us not commit mass suicide.

Mwene Kalinda