Pundit’s Mailbag — GMOs And Hawaii Papaya
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, September 12, 2011
Our piece Attack On Hawaii’s Genetically Modified Papayas Sparks Debate About Science, Organics And Freedom To Choose brought a word from a GMO skeptic:
Bob Sanderson has often been a valuable contributor to the Pundit, including pieces such as these:
Pundit’s Mailbag — Does A 1,200-item Audit Necessarily Result In More Safety Than A 40-item Audit?
Pundit Mailbag — Honor ‘Green’ Attempts
Pundit’s Mailbag — The Acceptance Of Risk
Pundit’s Mailbag — Sprout Lessons Echo Food Safety Dilemma
Pundit’s Mailbag — More On Manure
Pundit’s Mailbag — The Tyranny Of Economics And The Goals Of Fairtrade
Pundit’s Mailbag — Can Irradiation Follow The Path Of Pasteurization?
Pundit’s Mailbag — A Look At Organic Versus Conventional Yields
Pundit’s Mailbag — Irradiation, Pasteurization and Labeling
Pundit’s Mailbag — Pesticides And Cancer
Pundit’s Mailbag — Food Prices And Free Markets
Pundit’s Mailbag — Organics And Manure
Testing Sprout Seeds
We always appreciate Bob’s insight, but in this case we think he mischaracterized our response.
Although many in the industry in Hawaii are speculating that the destruction of the papaya fields was the work of anti-GMO activists, we were actually hesitant to endorse this scenario, as we explained:
We are, however, somewhat skeptical that opposition to GMOs is what motivated this destruction. It is possible, but we suspect that the anti-GMO forces would have been proud of their work and claimed “credit” for it. We suspect it is either personal or financial in motivation. Maybe they hope to drive these farmers out and buy or lease the land cheap themselves?
We found the distinction being claimed for Hawaiian GMO papaya as being unconvincing. If one opposes GMOs because they can do terrible things, how could the survival of the papaya industry in Hawaii override those concerns? And why shouldn’t farmers be able to use GMOs to produce high yields or to provide cheaper food or food equipped with certain nutrients? Are these causes somehow less virtuous that sustaining papaya farming in Hawaii?
One thing we do agree with Bob Sanderson on is his point that technology is morally neutral. At different times, in different places, for different purposes, it can be deployed for good or for evil. Our job is to tilt the balance for good.
Many thanks to Bob Sanderson for his always intriguing input.