The letter by Paula Rubinson is typical of those opposed to GM crop technology (The Daily News, Aug. 14).
Unfortunately the misleading information contained in the letter is from anti-GMO sites. Careful review of non-activist literature gives a very different point of view for GMOs. Industrial agriculture is far from perfect but it has fed the world during a doubling of the population.
According to Dr. Norman Borlaug (Nobel laureate and creator of the green revolution), if we were to return to primarily organic methods, we could only possibly feed four billion. Who would decide which three billion people go without food?
The pesticide data from the USDA can be stated in many ways. One way to look at it is the use of modern pesticides in GM crop production has reduced the environmental impact by nine per cent over the period of 1996-2010. It is not surprising GMO critics rarely recognize this fact.
The Indian suicide myth is widespread in activist literature. In 2005, (third year of GM cotton) suicides in India were 13 per cent rural and 87 per cent urban. Five years later with the explosion of GM cotton (now over 90 per cent of all cotton grown in India), rural suicides represent 10 per cent and urban 90 per cent according to Indian government figures.
India is now among the world leaders in cotton production.
Quoting a 1998 African document poorly reflects the present-day thinking on that continent. Today, many African countries have active GMO research and development research programs. Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa and Egypt all have extensive GM crop development programs for crops like banana, cassava, wheat and maize.
The 900-scientist document Rubinson refers to in her letter must be the infamous International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. This document is a prime example of how ideology can override sound science. Why the assessment failed (available online) explains how.
What is clear is the world does not have the luxury of rejecting any agricultural technology if we are going to double the food supply by 2050. We need all forms of agriculture if we want to feed the world without destroying the remaining wilderness. GM crops are not a panacea but they are most definitely needed in this regard.
Vancouver Island University