GMO Technology and Industrial Food Production

Genetically modified food is one of the controversial subjects in our society. 49% of people surveyed think they can harm either health or the environment. The majority of scientists do not agree. Since it is the majority and not all, the debate continues and is becoming shrill. At the same time, there are other food related debates about food labeling or buying local, for example, so many debates the issues become clouded. McKay Jenkins, author of” Food Fight– GMOs and the future of the American Diet”, published last January was interviewed by Caitlin Dewey for her Washington Post Blog and said that to him the real issues lie beyond all the debates. Using technology to solve food deficiencies, drought or to find alternatives to fossil fuel dependencies is OK with him, however, the issue that is forefront is
using technology to advance the goal of sustainable agriculture. He says we do not realize how GMO foods have already infiltrated the food industry. He cites the examples of corn and soy which are some of the largest crops. Technology, including GMO, have increased crop yield and those products end up as part of industrial food production as corn syrup or feed for the meat that goes into fast foods. So without realizing it we already consume GMO foods and have for a while. The issues may have been accelerated by GMO technology but predate them making the whole thing very complex.
It seems, to me at least, that what Mr. Jenkins is gently dismissing those who oppose GMO food for health reasons including their causing cancer, not to denigrate them but because such concerns pale when seen as part of the whole problem. What’s important to him is what kind of changes can make dents in the present system. Being able to create changes to move towards sustainable agriculture is a much tougher issue than most of those we normally associate with food production. Even buying local which he supports cannot make a dent unless it would be on a large scale.
Reflecting upon all this is sobering, and realizing that large corporations control much of food production and that these companies are in a position to pressure governments to act in their favor even more so. Avoiding reality is never a way to solve a problem, and being able to have the facts to face this one can even end up making us grateful for being able to go to the heart of the causes and therefore have a better grasp of how effective our actions may or may not be