If Nature Modified Your Sweet Potato, It’d Be Ok, Right?
Yes, I would say.
Some might ask: Why is this different from what genetic engineers are trying to do today?
I would answer, because I trust that Nature doesn’t have a profit motive, among other things.
But, please, check out the article NPR published below regarding how we should think about this issue and share your thoughts.
The first genetically modified crop wasn’t made by a megacorporation. Or a college scientist trying to design a more durable tomato. Nope. Nature did it — at least 8,000 years ago.
Agrobacterium is ubiquitous in soils all around the world — and infects more than 140 plants species. So it doesn’t take much imagination to see how the bacteria’s DNA could eventually find its way into our food. “I suspect if you look in more crops, you’d find other examples,” Jaffe says.
So why does an 8,000-year-old GM sweet potato matter? The example might be helpful for regulators and scientists looking at the safety of GM crops, Jaffe says. “In many African countries, some regulators and scientists are skeptical and have some concerns about whether these crops are safe,” Jaffe says. “This study will probably give them some comfort. It puts this technology into context.”
But the study won’t assuage many consumers’ worries about GMOs, Jaffe says. “A lot people’s concerns aren’t just about whether what the scientists have done is natural or whether the crops are safe to eat.”
Many people worry about whether GMOs increase the use of pesticides and herbicides. Or that some companies use the technology to make seeds intellectual property. “In these instance, you have to look at the GMO on a case-by-case basis,” Jaffe says.
In the case of sweet potatoes, at least, the world seems clear on all those fronts.
Article excerpt and photos courtesy of NPR