Finding the Truth

The “evidence” against genetic engineering is typically not evidence at all. It is usually hearsay that isn’t backed up by science, a misplacing of blame, or a misunderstanding about farming, biotechnology, or biology in general. This isn’t necessarily the fault of people who believe this “evidence” – the fault lies in the lack of solid science education and with the fearmongering organizations and people that rely on misinformation.

I’m planning a series of posts that will clarify as many of these topics that I can find – from a young plant geneticist’s point of view. Feel free to comment with additional topics that need attention. Please be patient, though, as I do have research and courses that take up a lot of my time.

Anastasia Bodnar

Written by Anastasia Bodnar

Anastasia Bodnar serves as the Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. She is a science communicator and multidisciplinary risk analyst with a career in federal service. She has a PhD in plant genetics and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University.

6 comments

  1. Hello Anastasia.

    I’d like to recommend two books that are not on your Librarything.com list but might help you compose your series of posts.

    First:

    Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist’s View of Genetically Modified Food, by Nina V. Fedoroff and Nancy Marie Brown.

    This is an interesting paperback. I found the stories about corn borer (GMO safer than non-GMO corn), papaya (GMO containing one specific viral protein has less viral protein than organically grown papaya), and sweet potato (Monsanto tried to help an African scientist improve the local crop — donating money, time, knowledge, rights to use patented technology — but anti-GMO activists interfered). The book is available from Borders and other book sellers. I wish a few anti-GMO folks would try reading it.

    Second:

    Genetically Modified Planet: Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Plants, by C. Neal Stewart

    Excellent chapters on why GMOs are not going to become superweeds, how proper design and management of crops can prevent disease organisms from overcoming resistance, and why the monarch/Bt issue was not an issue. I found this at the UW-Madison agricultural library. It is probably available at Iowa State. Again, I wish a few anti-GMO folks would consider reading this book.

    I’m looking forward to reading future posts. Thanks.

  2. I am looking forward to it also. I have heard people object to the possibility of cross-contamination of GMO seeds into crops which may be harmed inadvertently by the modified content.

  3. You ought to take a trip to Fairfield (Iowa) sometime. The anti-GMO presence is quite strong there (and its nearby spinoff town, Vedic City, as well).

    The building where I worked had an organic field right next to the backyard.

    Also, the perception of Monsanto and its ilk as evil greedy soulless corporations (and I’m not convinced that they aren’t) needs to be addressed as well in general. I think people intuitively distrust anything where there is that much power and money in so few hands.

  4. John, those books sound good, I’ll certainly look for them at the library. It’s so frustrating that anti-GMO people insist on citing Jeffery Smith and the like – without considering that it’s all about money. If Jeffery Smith isn’t effective at spreading fear about GMOs, then he won’t sell any books! It’s the same with global warming detractors and such. Sure, the authors of the books you recommend want to sell copies too, but they don’t base their entire career on fearmongering.

  5. Matthew, corporations are a funny thing in the US. You wouldn’t beleive the evils that some of them do, all in the name of profit. Monsanto isn’t a shining global citizen, but I certainly don’t think they are worse than any other.

    As for patenting – I understand why we have it, but I think we are due for a legal overhaul. Patents on things like the “Ab Lounge” are entirely different from patenting a gene. There also needs to be more international cooperation, since patented items do not stay in their borders, be they plant or plastic.

  6. Hi Anastasia, I just discovered your blog, and it looks good to me so far. I wanted to second the recommendation of Mendel in the Kitchen – it’s a verygood book.

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