Genetic modification is natural
Every living thing, including every human being, is a genetically modified organism, or GMO. Evolution has taken place because the DNA genetic code, shared by all life on Earth, is constantly being rearranged in all of us. These insertions, deletions and transpositions in the code result from natural mutagens as well as from the inevitable errors in transcription and translation in our complex cellular machinery that processes millions of three-unit DNA “codons” per second. Many of these mutations are corrected by the cells’ proofreading apparatus, but some are not, and a small percentage of these modifications are incorporated into the organism’s own structure or its offspring.
Unfortunately, nature’s random genetic modifications, while sometimes improving a species’ survival probability, more often produces cancer or one of hundreds of genetic diseases. Our mailboxes are full of requests for donations to fight some of the more widespread of these diseases.
It is a triumph of modern science that we have learned how to improve and correct some of nature’s random products through genetic engineering. GMO technology has already saved millions of people from starvation, blindness and disease. Its promise for the future is immeasurably greater.
I oppose GMO labeling because it will frighten poorly informed people — which includes most of us — away from perfectly safe foods and, more important, it could have a dampening effect on further development of this revolutionary, life-giving technology.