THE NEW ENGLAND life sciences industry has produced an explosion of therapies for small patient populations with rare diseases. Last year, fully half of newly approved drugs were for these smaller populations.
While emerging biotech therapies provide hope for small clusters of human patients with rare diseases, when deployed to the agricultural sector, biotech advances the promise nourishment for tens of millions who may otherwise face food shortages that are increasingly exacerbated by drought and pestilence. When it comes to agriculture, biotech not only provides hope that the many might avoid food scarcity but also represents a promising opportunity for the New England economy.
For the Monitor
Poor people around the world are dying because they are denied GMO food. The safety of GMOs has been settled.
Walter De Jong, a potato breeder and geneticist at Cornell, says: “There is not a single documented case of anyone being hurt by genetically modified food.” Millions of people have been eating GMOs for decades, and no evidence exists that anyone has been harmed.
Labeling GMO food is not needed because it only raises doubt without reason. GMO opponents also want absolute proof that they are safe, but this is not possible in the real world. A GMO is just a very specific kind of cross-breeding.
What is the benefit of GMOs? They allow the addition of essential elements to crops that would not otherwise have them and reduce pesticide use. People in affluent countries can afford to avoid GMOs if they want to. Unfortunately some politicians in America and Europe are ignoring the science and using GMO scare tactics.
The real tragedy is that the leaders in some poorer countries are following the anti-GMO people and denying their people much-needed GMO food. We in the affluent countries need to set a good example and support GMOs because they can save poor peoples’ lives. Join me in saying: “I heart GMOs”!
Last Wednesday the Massachusetts House defeated a bill to require the labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients. It should have been a crushing defeat. Instead, it was a rather narrow one — only 23 votes. On an issue that is not remotely a close call, 162 House members voted on the side unsupported by any evidence.
One of House Bill 660’s stated goals was to “(e)nable consumers to avoid the potential risks associated with genetically engineered foods…” What risks?
“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health,” The World Health Organization has concluded. “In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration applies the same safety standards to all foods, whether genetically modified or not. The FDA is so unconcerned about GMO foods that its official position is that labeling is unnecessary. It supports voluntary, not mandatory, labeling.