Letter: Genetic Engineering Is a Tool
To the Editor:
A column published Nov. 22 (“Here Come Genetically Engineered Trees”) directed our ire against genetically engineered trees. Genetic engineering is a breeding tool. It is used by people working in nonprofit and government research institutes around the world to avert famine, malnutrition, loss of ethnically valued favorite foods, and destruction of small farmers’ incomes. It is also used by people working to earn huge profits by selling patented seedstock and related inputs that must be paid for yearly and that are insufficiently tested for side-effects that may worsen all farmers’ long-term survival, global food budgets, and local and global environmental stability.
The opponents of genetically modified crops (organisms) are doing all of us a disservice by focusing their negative attention on GMOs. Valuable and well-tested contributions to solving desperate problems in developing countries are being thwarted, defunded and vandalized by actions that for-profit companies such as Monsanto can easily counter in Congress.
Stop focusing on the tool. Focus on the need for proper evaluation of all new crop variants before they are introduced to a new region. Much of what the authors said about eucalyptus is true but irrelevant unless it represents a monoculture on a large scale. Every other GMO and non-GMO plant would also create major long-term problems if grown as the only crop over a wide area.
The writer is a retired socio-economist in international agricultural research.