NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Opposition To Biotechnology Is "Natural"

January 15, 2001

The introduction of genetically modified foods was bungled, say experts, by not preparing the public for the new products, marketing products first that helped producers rather than consumers and flawed experiments that played to perceived fears about the risks of GM foods. However, products being developed now hold the promise of improving human nutrition and health, and thereby gaining wider public acceptance.

In assessing information on GM foods, we should keep in mind that:

  • Every new technology creates winners and losers, and has advocators and detractors.
  • In any head to head confrontation, emotion will trump science.
  • Anti-technology groups (the Luddites) will oppose change before it even occurs.
  • Finally, commercial groups, such as the organic food industry, will exploit the public's fears to market their own products.

Genetically modified foods promise preventive treatments for various nutritional deficiencies and diseases.

  • For example, a genetically modified tomato created at the University of London contains 3.5 times a normal tomato's level of beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A -- which may help prevent cancer.
  • And genetically modified rice enriched with vitamin A, iodine and iron could change millions of lives now impaired by anemia, malnutrition, mental retardation and blindness.

Such health-enhancing foods, the ability of genetic technology to diagnose susceptibility to disease and the environmental unsustainability of "natural food" production bode well for the acceptance of GM foods.

Source: Charles Wilson (Institute for the Future), review of "The Future of Food," Brian J Ford, British Medical Journal, January 13, 2001.


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