Country Life, a British real estate and lifestyle magazine, took the anti-technology world by surprise today with an editorial about the mad hysteria over genetically modified (GM) foods.
After emphasizing its unprecedented potential to feed the world’s population—and rightly pointing out that this technology is an accelerated version of “the process of selective breeding that’s been practiced for millennia”—Editor Mark Hedges calls blowhard environmentalists out on a double standard:
Opposition to GMOs is led by the Green lobby – the self-same people who are most exercised by the need to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. Paradoxically, an argument for GM crops is precisely that they will help farming reduce its carbon footprint. Roots that fix a greater proportion of nitrogen from the soil will require less fertiliser made using fossil fuels. We want to discourage farmers from ploughing the land because that releases carbon; it’s possible to imagine the development of a perennial wheat that makes ploughing unnecessary.
The anti-biotech response to this point, and Country Life’s reasoning that we should think twice before we dismiss GM technology out of hand?
Clare Oxborrow, a food campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "It’s quite astonishing that Country Life has fallen for the GM industry’s PR machine. The idea that drought and salt-resistant crops could be just round the corner is pie-in-the-sky speculation. GM companies have been claiming these sorts of fix-all solutions for the past 10 years but they’ve never got any closer to achieving any of their promises."
Exercising caution before we completely blow a possible opportunity for progress toward feeding the hungry and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions—that’s some PR!
The argument that the benefits of GM technology are only “potential” is absurd. As the public’s knee-jerk reaction to so-called “Frankenfood” is gradually replaced by a better understanding of its possible benefits, the arguments of “all-natural” activists will continue to crumble. We’re looking forward to it.
Like Country Life pointed out today, “future generations will think us crazy, or criminal, not to embrace it.” As the crusade against biotechnology continues without a leg to stand on, the “us” will soon be replaced by “fear-mongering activists.”