Don’t diss GMOs unless you have the facts
By Mike Jiggens
There have been endless examples over the years, decades and even centuries of “man playing God.” Whether it’s cloning sheep, surgically converting a man into a woman or vice versa, aborting pregnancies or genetically modifying organisms to help feed the world, there has and always will be controversy surrounding such practices.
Some of these examples will precipitate a debate of moral values. Is it right to alter one’s anatomy so that he or she becomes a member of the opposite sex? Is it right to pull the plug on a hospital apparatus that is keeping a terminally-ill patient alive?
I’m not about to enter into those debates because, frankly, it’s a no-win situation no matter which side you wish to support.
But what about such things as genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) which can help feed the world and provide the nutrition and vitamins that are lacking in the diets of Third World children?
GMOs have been the target of attacks since day one, but those who argue against them are not up to snuff on the science involved. They’re armed with either junk science or hearsay.
Dr. Paul Giordano, a turfgrass specialist with Bayer CropScience, presented an excellent address on the topic of GMOs in March at a gathering of golf superintendents in London, Ont. He said the GMO detractors are essentially attacking science.
Among the arguments against GMOs is the use of pesticides, a point that Giordano said has been blown out of context yet has swayed enough people into believing that anything genetically modified is bad and that the science behind it is evil.
He acknowledged he was preaching to the choir during his presentation (which is also what I’m doing here), but noted that pesticides are used every day for everyday uses—many of which we barely bat an eyelash about.
Pesticides used to treat head lice, athlete’s foot or yeast infections in human beings are considered as medicines and are deemed by the public at large to be safe. Yet pesticides used on turfgrass or on food products—which contain essentially the same ingredients—are considered bad and unsafe. In fact, the dosage for human medicinal purposes is usually higher.
It’s time for the industry to stand up for itself and be more proactive in defending the use of necessary pesticides, Giordano says. Even though the industry as a whole has substantially cut back on its pesticide usage over the past quarter-century or so, it’s still not good enough, according to activists who still like to cling to junk science for backing.
Everyone, whether they’re in the industry or not, owes it to himself to acquire as much science-backed information as possible about such things as pesticides, GMOs, organic foods, or whatever. Only then can an intelligent dialogue be realized.