Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Ugly is in the eye of the observer

Historical research

The arguments presented against SR foods in this article are extremely poor. The people who claim that SR foods could produce a HIV-like retrovirus are clearly ignorant gits that don't deserve any kind of attention. Against those kinds of people anyone could win an argument.

The more honest protrayal of opposition to SR is simply that food is complex and tampering with food can create unknown health problems. I think a good example of this is Margerine. Margerine was once touted as the answer to the high fat content of butter. Margerine was supposed to be perfectly healthy and everyone was supposed to switch to using margerine in order to reduce heart disease and extend life. Then along came the trans-fatty acids caused by hydrogenation of vegetable oils. The lesson given to us by Margerine is that when we introduce artificial elements into our food supply we don't ever fully understand the metabolic and health effects of those artificial elements.

The poster asks where the harm is in making strawberries more resistant to frost. The answer is that we don't know. The chemical which that gene makes could interact poorly with some other chemical in strawberries (a chemical which fish don't produce) and produce trace toxins which negatively affect the health of people who eat them. Those toxins may not even be currently recognized as toxins (lots of toxins weren't recognized for a long time, check out the history on dioxins).

And I doubt that there will be a plauge, but I certainly believe that there will be 10,000s of deaths at a minimum due to SR crops. Just like Margerine we may not fully understand what we've done to our food supply for several decades. "Careful evaluation" of the SR foods will do no better than the careful evaluation which was given to Margerine. We can also expect that some corporations who are doing the "careful evaluation" will manage to hide any negative findings that they produce. History is full of examples of corporations behaving this way (no, I'm not claiming they always behave this way, but in a large enough sample size over time you will certainly find examples).

However, I don't mean to get hysterical over the deaths due to SR. If the alternative is millions of people starving in africa, and SR crops can solve the problem then the risk may be worth it. But making strawberry crops yields higher is of very dubious social value. It benefits the strawberry growers and the companies who SR the strawberries. But its just not on par with saving starving people in Africa.

Furthermore there's massive opposition to doing something as simple as requiring labelling on foods made with SR crops. I find this reprehensible since the food companies are removing our choice over if we eat SR crops or not. Why is it that only someone in a company board room gets to decide if I eat SR crops and I don't? Even if you support SR foods wholeheartedly, aren't you opposed to corporations taking away my choice not to eat them?

There are also the patent issues associate with SR crops, which are a huge problem. Those patent issues may prevent SR crops from solving world hunger due to the requirement that third-world nations tithe the SR food manufacturers. The third-world doesn't need more corporations trying to figure out how to get those nations into more debt.

What I would like to see is a well reasoned article which discussed the actual costs, benefits and risks of SR foods. Some historical research into past experiments with food I think would put the article into perspective -- I don't think anything has fundamentally changed which will prevent us from repeating the mistakes of the past. I seriously doubt that any such balanced article would be able to conclude "damn the torpedoes! full steam ahead!" like this article does.