It sounds like a fruit salad from another planet, but really all the genes are naturally found on Earth. As you may have suspected though, the organisms carrying them have been slightly modified to produce more of a certain desired substance (lycopene with the pink pineapples and anthocyanin with the purple tomatoes). Both lycopene and anthocyanins have been indicated in helping fight cancer and contribute to good health.


AP Photo/Andrew Davis, The John Innes Centre, UK

Along with increasing how effective plants are at binding CO2 (by incorporating additional “antennas” allowing them to use more of the incoming light or improving existing pathways), and designing plants to resist only a very specific pests without even killing them, these “increased goodies” approaches represent the smartest and safest use of genetic modification.

Not every scientist is interested in simply making plants resistant to a herbicide or pesticide: many are interested in improving systems and helping solve world problems with fewer environmental and logistical costs than right now. The irony is that many of these beneficial products have been blocked, and a great example of this is golden rice (which is rice designed to have more ß-carotene to reduce vitamin A deficiencies causing blindness in parts of Asia and Africa).

How can we encourage these scientists to continue their beneficial work when any attempt at explaining the potential uses and good of GM is always railroaded into a slew of accusations regarding Monsanto? Why is it so hard for people to accept that GMOs are not evil, and their responsible use will likely play a part in tomorrow’s most ecologically sustainable agricultural practices? Wouldn’t it be smart to consider allowing the use of genetically modified crops, that require no extra chemicals, in organic agriculture?