As Was With Genetically Modified Foods

I have been closely following public reaction to the announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that meat from cloned animals pose no health risks to consumers, and therefore requires no special labeling.

The debate perfectly resembles the one that followed the commercialization of the first genetically modified (GM) crop, ten years ago. Then, anti-technology activists warned that GM food would compromise the health of consumers.

Multinational biotech companies came in for roasting for allegedly attempting to colonize the seed industry. Funny enough critics couldn’t find fault in the science behind genetically modified foods. and despite all this hubris, land under genetically modified crops continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

In fact, purported doubts about the safety of genetically modified foods to human health and the environment have not slowed down the development of more genetically modified crops. Geneticists seem to be more emboldened by the growing criticism of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

They remain committed to developing more GM crops with such beneficial traits as pesticide, herbicide and drought resistance, which leads me to conclude that research on cloned animals will intensify rather than abate.

I argue this way because I am convinced the ordinary person greatly appreciates new scientific innovations. Were this not the case, GM crops would not be a remarkable phenomenon that they are today.

And the same will apply to products of cloned animals. Despite media hyping of the safety concerns of products from cloned animals, the public, as was the case with genetically modified foods, will reach a wise judgment that will reflect their true value.

Steve Rice, one of the world’s leading cloning scientists, writing in gainevilles.com, couldn’t have been too wrong when he accused the media of misleading the public about human cloning.

"…media coverage by scientifically naive journalists has perpetuated a number of myths about cloning."

Rice is right. The media and anti-technology activists do the public great disservice by trumpeting erroneous and misleading statements about new scientific innovations such as animal cloning and genetically modified foods. Isn’t time now ripe to stop them, by all means?

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About The Author, James Wachai
James Wachai is a communication expert, specializing in agricultural issues, and also authors GMO Africa Blog. On the web at http://www.gmoafrica.org/