February 2013 – Genetically Modified Organisms

The contentious issue of GMO crops and foods was the focus of  our February 2013 meeting. The Monsanto example was discussed extensively; ‘golden rice‘ was mentioned as a non-corporate example of a GMO. GMO labelling of foods and the role of public (government) agencies in regulation and research were discussed, as was the large issue of how the public can find information that is reliable and understandable (source and funding of scientific literature, reliability of mainstream and alternative media, etc.).

The newness of GMO science and technology and its rapid adoption around the world raises questions about its long-term impacts on both health and agriculture (patents on and limited availability of seed stock, for example). Briefly discussed were differences between the regulation of GMOs in North America and Europe.

Actions we as humanists can take to deal with the uncertainties surrounding GMOs were discussed, including producing letters articles for the local papers focusing on how to take a rational, educated approach to a very complex issue.

GMO Myths and Truths, a report by Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson and John Fagan, produce by Earthopensource, was a useful reference for the discussion.