GMOs Have a PR Problem

It’s safe to say that the debate over genetically modified crops isn’t about facts—study after study has consistently shown GMOs to be safe—but rather about feelings, namely the discomfiting notion that genetically modified foods are somehow unnatural. The science here is clear, but as the New York Times reports, the public remains unconvinced:

In a Pew Research Center survey published in January, 88 percent of scientists vouched for the safety of G.M. foods, as they’re usually called, dwarfing the 11 percent who considered them unsafe. Among the American public, 37 percent judged the foods safe and 57 percent unsafe. […]

There is no meaningful distinction between [GMOs] and other foods, as far as genes, proteins and molecules are concerned…“From a genetic point of view, genes are genes,” said [University of Wisconsin professor Dominique Brossard]. “It doesn’t matter where they come from.”

This is a question of perception, not reality, and many people remain wary of what they see as tampering in Mother Nature’s realm. And, of course, greens are doing little to ease these concerns, frequently choosing instead to inflame them.

This makes little sense, but then, that’s what we’ve come to expect from the modern environmental movement. Greens will breathlessly describe the dystopian future that awaits us just around the corner, one characterized by overpopulation and food scarcity, by a planet ravaged by hotter temperatures and more severe storms, but in the next sentence muster the gall to attack genetically modified crops. If things really are as bad as they believe, why go after one of the likeliest solutions to feeding our world’s growing population in harsher conditions?

Greens are well practiced at finding a new villain, but they’re demonstrably incapable of getting behind the right kind of hero. GMOs should be just that; they can feed more with less. Tackling the public’s negative perception of GMOs ought to be a top priority for green groups around the globe, yet we see the opposite in practice.

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