by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: GM(Genetically Modified)

Feb 25 2008

Eating Liberally: Food Biotech

The Ask Marion question this week has to do with whether there is anything good about food biotechnology. This is a good week to ask since the industry’s genes have been leaking again, this time into corn that is not genetically modified. Apparently, according to Food Chemical News (and I do love the way these things are described) “Dow AgroSciences had earlier informed the agencies that it had detected extremely low levels of an unregistered plant-incorporated protectant (PIP), known as Event 32, in some Herculex RW and Herculex XTRA Rootworm Protection seed lines. Seed containing the PIP was inadvertently sold to farmers by Dow’s affiliate, Mycogen Seeds, and planted in 2006 and 2007.” Translation: The Mycogen Co. sold seeds containing an unapproved gene to be planted with conventional corn. Oops, and not the first time.

Feb 14 2008

Ben & Jerry’s sings about cloning

Thanks to Maya Joseph for sending Ben & Jerry’s endearing cow cloning song. Its message: just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. But wait! Isn’t Ben & Jerry’s owned by Unilever? Does this mean that Unilever–a huge multinational food corporation that sells nearly $60 billion annually–opposes animal cloning? Or is the company just leaving Ben & Jerry’s alone with its core customers?

Jan 19 2008

Is safety the only issue? I don’t think so

About the previous posting on animal cloning, rj asks: What are the possibly negative consequences from consuming say cloned poultry? Does it have to do with abnormal gene expressions which may somehow impact the composition of said food item? This also makes me wonder about why genetically modified foods fire off alarms with some people…with respect to genetically modified foods [studies]…have concluded GM foods are safe…you could infer that GM foods are safe for humans too. What are your thoughts on this, Marion?”

Easy. Just because–or even if–a food is safe, it does not necessarily have to be acceptable. I am willing to grant that GM and cloned foods are probably safe, but so what? I devote the first chapter of my book, Safe Food, to a serious discussion of this question. To summarize: if you have concerns–moral, ethical, religious, social, or political–about the way food is produced, you might choose not to eat GM or cloned foods. But you don’t have a choice, because neither is labeled. I think they should be.

Dec 27 2007

GMO corn in Europe?

Yesterday’s New York Times carried an excellent article about the fuss in Europe over genetically modified (GM) corn. Europe has managed to stave off the introduction of GM crops but is under huge pressure to accept them from the World Trade Organization and the U.S. The argument: Because GM crops are safe for people and the environment (a scientific issue), trade rules must apply. But, as the article quotes Benedikt Haerlin of Save Our Seeds, “Science is being utterly abused by all sides for nonscientific purposes…It would be helpful if all sides could be frank about their social, political, and economic agendas.” This precise point is the theme of my book Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism (UC Press, 2004), which despite its title is about the politics of food safety and biotechnology. Its conclusion: even if GM foods are safe, they are not necessarily acceptable.