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The truth about so-called ‘natural’ food

Insight on the News is a magazine with a regular “Symposium” feature, in which experts from opposing views of the same issue are given space to answer a question posed by the editors. In one recent issue, the topic was food technology (“Should consumers be concerned about bio-engineered crops?”). The debate pitted Friends of the Earth’s Bill Freese (a Nanny of the first order) against L. Val Giddings, the vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). While Freese presented a litany of questionable science and “spun” numbers to support his notion that everything but “natural” foods deserved a warning label, Giddings pointed out correctly, that humans have already been experimenting with “artificial selection” for 10 millenia, making the whole concept of “natural” foods laughable.

“‘Natural’ corn has an ear the size of the last digit of your little finger,” he says. “‘Natural” tomatoes are the size of a grape, and a stunted one at that. ‘Natural’ wheat appears to be a cross between at least three grass species. And poodles are nothing less than genetically modified wolves. Products of modern biotechnology, by contrast, result from manipulations with specific intent from the greatest base of human knowledge and understanding in history, with the greatest degree of precision and predictability – and therefore safety assurance – that we have ever had.”

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