Recently TEDx Toronto held its event which featured a popular figure amongst the GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) community, Rachel Parent. She first started studying GMOs at the age of 12 while doing a school project. By 14 she had a heated TV debate with Kevin O’Leary which went viral and put her name and message on the map for all to see.
Rachel is currently part of the United Nations Youth Leaders Education program and is the founder of Kids Right To Know, which is an organization with the mission of informing the public about food safety. Below you will find her very informative TEDx talk on the subject of GMOs.
If you’ve been following GMO news almost since their inception you are probably familiar with the fact that there is a lot of controversy and differing opinions surrounding their safety. Many believe that we don’t currently know the long term effects of GMOs and frankly they’re right. We are essentially using humanity as a gigantic genetic experiment when it comes to GMOs and to many, that’s a scary reality.
Those in favor of GMOs believe they are completely safe and claim that their science also shows that. While many of the GMO safety studies have been funded by biotech companies creating GMOs or by companies who could gain financially from GMOs, they don’t seem to want to admit their potential bias that could exist. This along with the fact that a large body of independent studies have shown health and environmental concerns time and time again.
But who’s right? Who has science that is more sound? Or perhaps do we simply not understand the GMO field as much as we would like at this point?
Why Do We Need GMOs?
If we don’t know what’s right or wrong about GMOs entirely, why not simply look at why we are using them in the first place and then assess whether it’s worth the risk. Rachel Parent does just that in her TEDx talk.
When you consider the main arguments: GMOs are needed to feed the world and may produce higher yields, we see very quickly that neither of these are true nor necessary. We can grow enough food and feed the world very easily, the issue is poverty not food abundance. And yields? GMO yields are the same as conventional yields, which is the same or even sometimes worse than organic farming yields.
The Union of Concerned Scientists reminds us that GM crops are not guaranteed, as promised by company advertising. They still fail to produce promised yields, and farmers are not permitted to save seeds due to the company’s patent. As a result, entire communities can be pushed to the brink of starvation.
Every person on the planet can feed themselves with just 100 square feet of well managed land. In 2008, the UN Conference of Trade and development supported organics, saying that organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and is more likely to be sustainable in the long term. You can read that full report HERE.
Some argue that foods can be engineered to contain more vitamins and minerals for people, but why not just give people access to good food to begin with? Why mess with nature and take huge risks?
The fact is we have no need for genetic modification yet we’re doing it. This is perplexing. The worst part is, Canada and the United States are the only two industrialized nations left in the world that don’t require mandatory GMO labeling. If people have concerns about GMOs, isn’t it fair that they at least know what they are eating?
Check out Rachel’s TEDx talk below for more on the story.