Many innovations and inventions being used today had to undergo a
Now we see that the scenario of fear remains even on the use of modern scientific tools such as biotechnology. “Fear of (biotechnology) is drowning out its potential benefits,” says Dr. Nina V.
|All the food we consume is genetically modified, according to Dr. Nina V. |
Dr. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, World Food Prize
In exasperation, Dr. Ingo Potrykus, co-inventor of Golden Rice, a GM rice that contains high beta carotene, articulates his disappointment with all the negativity. “There is not a single documented case of harm
Photo courtesy of www.goldenrice.org
Dr. Bruce Chassy, Professor of the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign questions why there is opposition to and criticism of biotechnology after almost 20 years of successful use on billions of hectares of farmland. “It is not unusual for humans to be cautious and concerned about new technologies… but society will need to move past this opposition in order to capture the benefits offered by biotechnology.”
Mr. Chris Kakunta, a development journalist working for the National Agricultural Information Services in Zambia also shares his thoughts. “As someone who has seen GMO crops in the lab and on the farms and who has witnessed the benefits accruing to farmers, I would say that the media, the industry to which I belong, must work extra hard so that every farmer hears the facts and makes the right decision... It is essential that this information be as pure and untainted as human beings can make it. If the press errs, then the whole of society lives with the same mistake,” the Zambian journalist avers.
The most daunting challenge of biotechnology, according to Professor Wayne Parrott of the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics at the University of Georgia, may not be climate change or pests, but “fear and emotions that do not respond to reason and logic.” Indeed, as Mr. Jon Entine, the founding director of the Genetics Literacy Project and senior fellow at the World Food Center’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California-Davis, cautions: “We can face a perilous future if we strangulate biotechnology advances because of misplaced fears.”
|The success of modern biotechnology is seen in the millions of hectares of farmlands planted with biotech crops.|
Indeed, issues have gone beyond the realm of science. Thus, many experts, be they scientists, policy makers, or media practitioners, have made their life mission to empower the public to make crucial decisions regarding acceptance and adoption of biotech that is based on evidence. Scientists, for example, now realize that it is not enough to just provide information to a public which wants a more active role in science by having their voices heard. And to a public that relies on information about biotechnology from mass media, the role of journalists is important for they set the agenda and tone for the topic.
As the Polish scientist Marie Curie succinctly said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
Read more on experts’ views on biotechnology from ISAAA Brief 50: Voices and Views: Why Biotech?