Magazine article E Magazine

Feed the Needy, Not the Greedy. (E Word)

Magazine article E Magazine

Feed the Needy, Not the Greedy. (E Word)

Article excerpt

Right up there with air and water, one of the last things in nature we should be tampering with is our food--at least not without due consideration of all the ramifications. And that, of course, means undertaking a full program of research, not plowing ahead--as the biotech industry appears to be doing--with such abandon that if problems crop up later it will be too late to turn back. There's a lot at stake: human health, environmental quality, and the future ability of ecosystems to produce food in quantity that is safe to eat and of high nutritional quality.

It's disturbing that food biotechnology is coming to the fore at the same time in history that organic foods are becoming ubiquitous. Organic and natural food proponents have worked hard to bring us this far, while educating the public and policymakers about food safety issues. Yet now they are faced with the irony that the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors may very well be getting a good dose of biotech themselves, whether intentionally or by accident. If it's not entirely safe to eat foods that have been sprayed with a pesticide, is it any better that the pesticide is instead made by a gene of the plant? We just don't know for sure, but we should--lest we find out the hard way generations later, as we did with the delayed effects of some pharmaceuticals, fertility drugs and nuclear testing.

But this is a classic lop-sided tug of war, in which moneyed interests hold the upper hand in the marketplace and in the arenas of public debate. Funny how we keep stalling on action to curb global warming because we've supposedly not done enough studies, yet genetically modified ingredients are steamrolling their way into a whole host of food products with little discussion. …

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