Crops and foods today are not what they used to look like.
Farmers and plant breeders have been modifying plant genes since the earliest human communities were formed and farming took hold in order to develop crops that better resist pests and foods with improved nutrition and taste.
Biotechnology proponents, particularly agro-biotechnology corporations, like to claim that humans have been genetically-modifying crops for thousands of years. Biotech advocates say that modern genetic techniques, including GMOs and CRISPR gene editing, are just a continuation of this time-tested process. That’s true, sort of. Modern corn, bananas, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, and frankly almost every food we eat have been altered in some way by humans. Advances in technology, they say, have made genetic modification more precise, safer and healthier than ever before, so we should embrace them with streamlined regulatory oversight.
By and large, the public has been queasy about endorsing that view, no matter that it is overwhelmingly held in the mainstream science community. Many consumers, often stoked by anti-biotech advocates and marketing campaigns from organic producers, worry that the innovations introduced since the approval of the first GMO crops in the United States in 1996 might be something uniquely different and might introduce unintended and dangerous side effects, could be bad for human health or may be problematic for the environment. Read more …