Many consumers are understandably hesitant to embrace biotech foods. Foods produce through biotechnology are relatively new to the public, the science is complicated and it’s tough to sift through the conflicting arguments by proponents and opponents.
When it comes to our food, we are especially skeptical of any perceived health risks, and a lot of the coverage of biotech foods claims that they are dangerous “frankenfoods”. Really, though, anything can be made to sound scary – it’s a simple and effective strategy for opponents to use (just look at political ads!).
To clearly demonstrate this phenomenon, look no further than DMHO.org, the website for the very scientific-sounding Dihydrogen Monoxide (DMHO) Research Division. They warn of the dangers of DMHO, explaining how it’s “a constituent of many known toxic substances, diseases and disease-causing agents, environmental hazards” and many more terrible things. The truth? Dihydrogen monoxide is water.
This may be an extreme example, yet all of these “dangerous” characteristics of water are true. More disturbing is the ease at which individuals have been able to obtain thousands of signatures calling for the ban, or restriction of DMHO. There are various examples of even well-educated individuals being duped by the “risks” of this “dangerous chemical”.
Our point is, it’s very easy for misinformation to spread, and even easier to use scare tactics to mislead consumers. There’s no way that all of us can obtain the level of education needed to immediately recognize science from pseudoscience, so we need to rely on the most reputable sources in the field.
On occasion, even experts’ opinions can differ on certain issues, but biotechnology is not one of them. The most reputable science, food and health organizations all have positive positions on agricultural biotechnology:
- World Health Organization – “No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of (biotech) foods…”
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. – “Biotechnology provides powerful tools for the sustainable development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as the food industry.”
- American Medical Association – “Our AMA recognizes the many potential benefits offered by bioengineered crops and foods…and encourages ongoing research developments in food biotechnology.”
- International Food Information Council – “This process results in tangible environmental and economic benefits, that are passed on to the farmer and the consumer.”
- National Academy of Sciences – “Agricultural biotechnology is one tool that holds great promise for alleviating hunger and poverty.”
These clear endorsements from those who know the most about agricultural biotechnology demonstrate its safety and vast potential. The faster this knowledge and acceptance spreads among the general public, the faster all can enjoy the numerous global benefits that this exciting technology can offer.