Unsure about biotechnology? There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Although biotech can improve people’s lives, it can be hard to get the facts. Here are five to consider.
1. Scientists agree: It’s safe
After hundreds of studies and decades of people safely eating biotech foods, scientists around the world say they are just as safe as products obtained through conventional agriculture. Here’s what they say:
- “No effects on human health.” — World Health Organization
- “Not more risky than alternative technologies.” — European Commission
- “The risk is in no way higher. … On the contrary, in some cases food from GM plants appears to be superior in respect to health.” — Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities (pdf document in German)
2. High-profile skeptics are changing their minds
Popular scientist Bill Nye reversed his opposition to biotechnology, the process that creates genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and foods. So did Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and Stephen Tindale, the former head of Greenpeace UK. They’re not the only ones. In a New York Times article titled “How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food,” British environmental activist Mark Lynas explained that he “could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.”
3. It protects farm workers
Pesticide poisoning is common where farm workers use backpacks to spray chemical pesticides. Workers in hot and humid climates sometimes avoid protective clothing. Biotech crops with a built-in ability to combat insects or diseases can help by reducing pesticide use.
4. Fewer fossil fuels are needed
Less pesticide also means fewer tractors to spray it. The fossil fuel saved means lower carbon emissions — an estimated 2.1 billion kilograms less in 2013 alone. That’s like having nearly a million fewer cars on the road.
5. It can help fight global warming
When farmers plow their fields to kill weeds, it disturbs the soil and can release carbon into the atmosphere. Biotech crops allow farmers to control weeds without plowing, leaving the carbon in the ground. An estimated 25.9 billion kilograms of carbon emissions — 11.5 million cars’ worth — were avoided in 2013 thanks to biotech.
Learn more about biotechnology and related agricultural research featured in exhibits at the USA Pavilion at the Expo in Milan, a world’s fair that promotes a global dialogue about the future of the food system. The USA Pavilion, titled “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet,” showcases the United States as an innovator in the food sector.