Opposition to Innovation: Does it Hinder or Help?

by Danielle Meyer, Electrical and Computer Engineering and German double major

Why do many seem so hesitant about new technologies that could improve our quality of life? Vietmeyer’s examples within Our Daily Bread show how apprehensive Norman Borlaug’s relatives were towards technologies like electricity, automobiles, and productivity increasing seed prove that this reluctance to embrace innovation is not unique to our time. However, I doubt many of us could imagine a life without electricity or a vast selection of food, so why does this reluctance continue?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) provide a possible solution to the problem of feeding a growing population, yet many are opposed to their use. This distrust of GMOs and their supporters has led anti-GMO groups to target researchers in this field. In fact, people have chosen to uproot GMO crops, burn GMO research facilities, and issue death threats against supporters.

There is no denying that extensive studies into the effects of any new technology should be conducted before the public is exposed. Yet, testing has done little to lessen anti-GMO groups.

Many of the arguments against GM food ignore the vast possibilities they make feasible. With proper modification, pesticides can be removed from crop production. Higher yields mean more food for the more than 7 billion residents of this planet, many of whom cannot afford or acquire proper nutrition.

Religious and ethical objections to GMOs are understandable and shouldn’t be abandoned simply to support GMOs, but what is important to remember is that one can choose to not eat foods that possibly contain GMOs and this choice that should be exercised if you are against GMOs. For those that desperately need more food that is affordable, GMOs provide a solution. Those against GMOs should consider those who so desperately need food when deciding what to do next about GMO research and its use.

This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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