Por Mauro Rebelo

GMOs for Good

Everyone loves dinosaurs, but it wasn’t always like this.
When the first fossils of these creatures were found and the world’s first theme park was set up in England with models of the monsters, they caused revulsion and fear.
The episode is described in the book ‘A Brief History of Almost Everything’ by Bill Bryson:
I wonder when the day will come when we will recognize the value of GMOs to humanity. They improve our quality of life and that of the animals around us in every way. The scientific evidence on their safety is overwhelming and only fear and scientific illiteracy justify the prejudice against GMOs.
In an excerpt from Bjorn Lomborg’s book ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’, he talks about the impact of misinformation on the perception of GMO risk:
“Genetically modified food is considered either a potential disaster or something we should openly love. Why this big difference in judgment? Undoubtedly, part of the reason is caused by a lack of information. An opinion poll asked Europeans whether it was true or false that “ordinary tomatoes don’t contain genes, while genetically modified tomatoes do”. Half – correctly – said it was false, but the other half thought it was true. These people really believe that good old-fashioned food doesn’t contain genes, while the new genetically modified foods push strange genes down our throats. In addition, only 42% knew that eating GM food would not modify their own genes. Other surveys show that Americans don’t know much more. No wonder there is widespread concern about GMOs.”
None, there has been no case of animal death caused by GMO food in the last 30 years. That’s trillions of animal meals. Probably the experiment with the largest number of samples in the history of science.
Initially, the fear that the power to modify living beings would be concentrated in the hands of a handful of large corporations that could patent life and control access to the benefits of GMOs may have led to the negative view (even though it was a problem of greed and a predatory business model that had nothing to do with technology. And that today ‘organics’ are increasing the pressure on tropical forests and giving the Whole Foods supermarket chain more revenue than Monsanto).
But today, being against golden rice (which produces vitamin A) or against sterile malaria mosquitoes means condemning millions of people to unnecessary death.
In Rio de Janeiro we could be fighting Aedes aegipt with GMO technology, but we still use poison. We would fight invasive species like the golden mussel and the sun coral with CRISPR, without any corporation getting disproportionately rich.
In fact, with the advance of technology, anyone can have access to kits to genetically modify a species (see the biohackers in the Netflix series ‘Artificial Selection’).
Could the popularization of these tools change the way society views GMOs? I hope so
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