Sincerity not enough for science

Most of those who will gather Tuesday to hear Steven Druker and Jane Goodall condemn genetically modified crops probably are sincere.

They share the same fears about science that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley exploited in her 1816 novel, “Frankenstein.”

Today the monster is genetically modified crops. But some of the opponents are driven more by politics, distaste for capitalism and anti-Americanism.

This is the same faction that opposed the free trade treaty with the United States and the new container facility at Moín

Druker will tell his listeners that the major scientific organizations of the world have lied repeatedly about genetic modification. And he will say that these organizations and scientists who are in on the conspiracy have twisted data.

He also will claim that laboratory tests with animals show that genetically modified foods causes intestinal anomalies, liver problems and damage to the immune systems.

These are the same claims he made Friday at a press conference. They are at least  exaggerations and misrepresentations.

Druker most certainly is sincere. So is Dr. Goodall. So are the people who wear aluminum foil hats to prevent messages from aliens. Sincerity is not enough for science. There needs to be facts and data that are subjected to intense scrutiny.

One modified product, Bt corn, allows farmers to spray to kill weeds. Opponents most likely never have spent the day hoeing corn rows.

If the Costa Rican legislature plans to prohibit the use of modified crops, lawmakers should commission several studies with adequate research designs.

We have yet to see such studies from the Universidad de Costa Rica where much of the opposition to such crops may be found.

Opponents of genetically modified crops oppose their production here but they say nothing about the importation of massive amounts of food that contain modified genes. Why is that? We suspect the reason is that Monsanto does not export food, and the attack is against Monsanto and not really against modified foods.

At University of California-Davis, renowned genetics researcher Pamela Ronald says “After 20 years of careful study and rigorous peer review by thousands of independent scientists, every major scientific organization in the world has concluded that the process of genetic engineering is as safe or safer as older methods of genetic modification.”

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