Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Failed Promise of GMOs

Pollan speaking at Yale in 2011

Alice C. Linsley

Last night I sat through a 2-hour presentation by California journalist, Michael Pollan. Most of the talk was a rehash of what he has written in his various books. However, one thing he said struck home. He spoke about the failed promise of GMOs to reduce hunger in America and globally.

The Food and Drug Administration has given approval to a limited number of genetically modified crops, including corn, soybeans, canola, alfalfa, and sugar beets. All of these are crops favored by the American industrial agricultural system which essentially is controlled by 6 big businesses. One suspects that a great deal of money has passed through various hands.

Pollan spoke about how GMOs serve that system by making it possible to increase the number of plants per acre. The increase does not come in the plant's yield.

Most Americans are wary of GMOs, but probably not for the right reasons. Our concerns should be directed toward the industrialization of American agriculture which has had the effect of reducing the variety of crops available to Americans. The smaller family-operated farms of the past were much more diversified. They had crops and animals and although they used a great deal of petroleum-based energy, they also used what was available on their land: natural fertilizers, decomposed organic material, etc.

In the conversation about GMOs we must face the reality that the promise to reduce hunger in American has failed. 

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