Over the last week, I've been engaged in the comments sections of several diaries on the subject of GM crops. Some of these have been "pro-GMO", while others have been "anti-GMO". I've seen some users being called "conspiracy theorists", and others being called "Monsanto shills". What I do not see is productive discussion emerging from this divide, and I hope to use this diary to address this.
First off, it is probably important for me to note that I consider myself "pro-GMO". I have several friends who are well-versed in the science, and I see great potential in addressing problems of world hunger and malnutrition. That said, I can understand concerns with the business practices of the largest biotech companies, notably the way Monsanto exploits a patent system to force dependence on their seeds.
I believe that to resolve differences in opinion among the DK community, we have to look at areas where we can all agree.
The Consumer should always be Informed and Educated when making his or her Decision
Any market-based economy can only function if the consumer fully understands their decision when performing actions of trade. For this reason, it never hurts to maximize the consumer's knowledge about what they purchase.
I support labeling, but it seems to me that system many people are going for is a simple "GM/non-GM" label, which I do not believe completely informs the consumer due to the broad range of uses of GMOs in the industry. I'm in favor of a labeling system that informs the consumer of exactly what modifications are made, along with their intended effect. Additional information should be made accessible on a relevant website for the product.
Independent and Fair Scientific research should be promoted
In addition to consumers knowing what they have in their food, they should be able to view information about what the effects are. For this reason, I think that any legislative action to label foods should also come with public funding for independent and transparent research into the effects of GM crops on yield, health, and the environment. This research cannot have conflicted interests from industries that produce GMs. The results of these studies should be accessible for the public and the scientific community.