The NYT today published a highly detailed, informative, and brilliant piece by Gina Kolata on G.M.O.’s: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/29/health/a-proposal-to-modify-plants-gives-gmo-debate-new-life.html?hpw&rref=science&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well.
The piece notes that there is no legal definition of what a G.M.O. is. In the EU zone, for example, the author notes, “G.M.O. is defined by the process, not the product.” So what is considered a non-G.M.O. plant in the U.S. would be considered G.M.O. in the EU if it is produced using any form of genetic engineering.
All the fuss about labeling of G.M.O’s is pertinent: A product labeled G.M.O. from Europe may have to have that label removed if sold in the U.S. should the label in the EU have been placed there because the product was produced through a process of genetic engineering. I know, right? Talk about “first world” problems.
Speaking about the rest of the planet outside of the “first world,” the article notes the huge benefits of G.M.O. crops in the developing world, giving this an example: “Scientists found the gene that makes the rice resistant to flooding; after a couple of years of crossbreeding, researchers were able to grow rice plants with the flood resistance gene of the ancient rice. Now, Dr. Schroeder says,flood-resistant rice is grown by more than four million farmers in Southeast Asia.”
Is cross-breeding, a form of genetic engineering, a G.M.O. crop? It is in Europe. But maybe not in the U.S. If you want to ban G.M.O.’s, you ban crops that save lives.
Meanwhile, as the G.M.O. debate continues, the erosion of independent and small food industries by large-scale private capital, in the form of hedge funds and larger food corporations, continues unabated. This week Hormel bought Applegate. Products that show the greatest profit will be marketed; those that don’t will disappear. Ah, the free market!