Recently, there was an infographic going around on Facebook with the purpose of warning us of the evils of genetically modified organisms. I confess to have been rather amused by the subtle grim reaper in the background. Scientific publications should take a queue from this meme producer.
Here's my take on how these arguments hold up:
- Seems to be an okay argument. If the soil is heavily contaminated with pesticides, only GMO seeds will survive the soil conditions, and farmers will be forced to switch to a new plot of land (or find a way to remove the soil contaminant). Glyphosate, an enzyme inhibitor, breaks down in the environment and has a half-life of 3 to 130 days; 75%-99.99% will be removed in just over a years time, 97%-99.99999999% (or so) in about two years.
- Okay argument, but see #1 re: half-life of glyphosate. (if this were entirely true, I don't think I would need to spray for weeds every year).
- True... _BUT_: Mono-cropping has been used in traditional agricultural for hundreds of years. That doesn't make it a good practice, it just doesn't make it exclusively true for GMO agriculture.
- Weak. As I understand it, Monsanto is not using this technology (currently? or are they?). However, if they did, terminator seed makes a genetic sequence inherently unfit. Nature will select against it. So the effects wouldn't last and it certainly won't wipe a species of crop off the planet (although, admittedly, this position is not specifically taken by Rawforbeaty's grim-reaper-backed info-graphic).
- Weak / misguided. Again this is an entirely different problem and is not unique to GMO crops.
Will I be eating GMO crops? Probably not, I'd prefer the tried and true food source with which our bodies have evolved through the years. Would I eat it if the choice were between cheap GMO food and starvation? You bet. Does cheap food lead to over-population and other problems? It seems to be the case.
Could bad things come from this? It's possible. But the same could be said for the Internet, the Television, the Radio, the Automobile, the Antibiotic, the Vaccine....
Does that mean it's an intelligent thing to do, to sling any haphazard argument that can be produced against it?