I awakened in the middle of the night and imagined a knobby headed monster was starting at my toes and devouring me bite by bite. It was green, slimey and in twinkley lights GMO was emblazoned on what I think was its head. I keep hearing I should hate GMO’s and the evil corporate types are pushing them on the American consumer. The message has now gotten into my head. What is a GMO and should I be afraid of it/them? – Having Nightmares in Missouri
Dear Having Nightmares,
Forgive Dear Foodie as she is confused as well. Referred to as “frankenfood,” GMO’s in the simplest terms are genes that are not of the original thing that are injected to achieve some desired affect such as fast growth or resistance to disease. There is widespread misinformation on both sides of the GMO argument such as rumors that giant salmon were being created in the lab and about to be unleashed on the on unsuspecting public Actually, the FDA considered GMO salmon –regular sized–that can be grown real fast in order to get to market sooner but didn’t go through with approving it because of protests. Proponents of GMO alterations say they are necessary in order to feed 9 billion people across the world by the year 2050. They are not exactly proponents of the local food movement to say the least. Opponents are quite vocal and believe that GMO’s go against the laws of nature and are the subject of unintended negative consequences. Frankly, they are likely to be more interested in feeding their families well rather than worrying about nine billion people. It appears that US versus THEM is prevailing on this question instead of a reasoned debate about the role of science in altering our food and perhaps making it better for us. Once again, Dear Foodie cautions you to be moderate in your views. Even fresh local food guru Mark Bittman has written that science and large scale production can be a good thing if done right (New York Times, 8/18/13 Week in Review section). Of course, this begs the question: who knows what is right?