If there is one concept that drives much of divide in the GMO debate, it’s substantial equivalence. Having different understandings or misunderstandings of the concept leads to rancor, distrust and talking past each other.
There is strong evidence that herbicide use has indeed increased in GMO crops (corn, soybean, and cotton), much as the critics have suggested. However, the evidence also suggest that herbicide use has increased even faster in the non-GMO crops rice and wheat. This suggests that there is an overall trend for increasing herbicide use in all crops, irrespective of whether GMO varieties are available. It is even plausible, based on these data, that GMO crops have slowed the increase in herbicide use (though it is impossible to say for sure).
Debating the ethics of the Séralini retraction gives us opportunities to elucidates just what it means to ‘ask questions’ and critically think about industry influence and conflicts of interest.
GUEST AUTHOR: Alma Glenn Laney
There has been quite a lot of talk about the latest paper from Seralini’s group that claims that there are substantial metabolome differences between genetically engineered corn and non-GE corn
There is some odd and fuzzy-headed thinking that asserts that crop breeding should be exempt from intellectual property protection. Often expressed as “Nobody should be able patent life”.
How often have you heard some version of:
“I don’t want to eat food that makes insects stomachs explode! / I don’t want to eat food that’s been bred to withstand being drenched in toxic herbicides”
This may be the most common misconception out there. Let’s try to reconnect it with reality a little bit.
One of the most common objections to biotech crops that comes up on the internet is some variation on this theme:
“I don’t want to eat a tomato that has fish DNA. Breeding in a laboratory is not the same as breeding that happens in nature over hundreds of years.”
There’s a lot of misunderstanding packed into those two sentences
Any discussion of GMOs on the internet brings a swarm of commenters. No matter the topic, an inevitable pattern of comment is “Yes, but what the author ignores is (insert common anti-GMO myth)”.
Here are three of the most common tropes that litter those discussions.