New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Dropping Like Flies?

February 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Applying the Precautionary Principle to GMOs 

by Devon G. Peña

We have been hearing a lot of protests lately from the pro-GMO camp about the ‘proven’ safety of genetically engineered foods. The most typical narrative comes in the form of a quote from a 2012 report issued by the respected and highly influential American Medical Association (AMA) and its Council on Science and Public Health. Here’s the proffered quote, which reveals the current dominant discursive frame used in defense of transgenic food safety:

Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature. However, a small potential for adverse events exists, due mainly to horizontal gene transfer, allergenicity, and toxicity.” (AMA 2012:i)

The AMA position has led many defenders of biotechnology to dismiss critics with a wave of the hand and repetition of a statement made by Mark Tester of the University of Adelaide: “If the effects are as big as purported…why aren’t all the North Americans dropping like flies?” (more…)