Genetically modified organisms have been around for over 20 years; The New York Times looks to the fields to see if the technology has lived up to its promises.
The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.
But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.
Genetically modified (GM) foods have been around for decades. Created by modifying the DNA of one organism through the introduction of genes from another, they are developed for a number of different reasons—to fight disease, enhance flavor, resist pests, improve nutrition, survive drought—and are mainly found in our food supply in processed foods using corn, soybeans, and sugar beets, and as feed for farm animals. Across the country and around the world, communities are fighting the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Are they safe? How do they impact the environment? Can they improve food security? Is the world better off with or without GM food?
Among the first signs of trouble for California’s Proposition 37 and Washington’s Initiative 522 were critical newspaper editorial writers who found flaws in the food-labeling measures, both of which ended up narrowly failing at the ballot box.
But this year in Oregon and Colorado, anyone looking to newspaper editorials for an early cue on how Measure 92 (OR) or Initiative 105 (CO) are going to come out will have to be satisfied with mixed results. (more…)