Ahhh yes, we definitely need one. And very likely will never have a drawn out plan.
Ladies and gentlemen, In just about three weeks from now, on November 5, Washington State will likely pass a ballot initiative to label GMOs. Those numbers may come down a bit, but my hunch is this particular battle is lost.
But as Churchill once said, it is certainly the end of the beginning. The strategy of fighting labelling state by state will have failed, and something new will have to take its place. Today I want to outline to you some ideas about what this something new might look like.
I strongly believe that biotechnology is an essential part of the toolbox to feed the world sustainably in the future. We need crops that are resistant to new diseases, that can cope with a changing climate and that enable us to feed an increasing human population while minimising the environmental impact of agriculture.
GMOs can deliver on some, though by no means all, of this challenge. They can increase nitrogen use efficiency. They can deliver disease and pest resistance without the need for large-scale applications of agrochemicals. They can increase productivity and thereby spare land for nature even as we work to double food production by mid-century.
And they can address challenges coming at us from global warming such as thermal tolerance limits and drought and flood problems also.
Foods containing GMOs or GM-derived products are no less safe than their conventional alternatives — there is as strong a scientific consensus on this issue as there is on many comparable issues like the science of climate change.
There is no safety case and no health case against the current GMOs which are available. Indeed, GMOs may well be more safe than their conventional alternatives. There is a lot of published science which shows, for example, that GMO Bt corn — because it has less insect damage — is typically lower in carcinogenic aflatoxins mycotoxins than the alternatives.
Organic corn may be very high in terms of this particular risk, in contrast. We will have denied our plant breeders the use of a powerful technology for sustainability and food security, and we will have foreclosed an important and growing area of human knowledge.
This cannot and must not be allowed to happen. And let there be no mistake: They talk about consumer choice, but what they actually want is to remove all choice. They want what I call prohibition based on superstition.
Now, as we know, much of the funding and drive behind these GMO labelling campaigns has come from the organic lobby. And I have to hand it to them:Max Mckeown (PHD, MBA, FRSA) is an author, consultant and popular speaker.
He shares cutting edge research with clients in the real world of major corporations. He is the author of several books including The Truth about Innovation, Adaptability and best-selling, award-winning The Strategy Book. Max has a PhD and MBA with a speciality in strategic change and an MSc in Psychology.
I think the controversy over GMOs represents one of the greatest science communications failures of the past half-century. Millions, possibly billions, of people have come to believe what is essentially a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies on an unprecedentedly global scale.
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