Larry, Curly and GMO

Get it? Well, GMO or Genetically
Modified Organism
– is on the news again, thanks to California’s
Proposition 37
, which is on the ballot for the November 2012 election.
The proposition makes labeling for genetically engineered food mandatory.

Is GMO bad? Dan Piraro of Bizarro Comic thought so when he created the
cartoon above (GMO Moe? Love it!) but changed his mind after a flurry
of comments by his blog readers:

A couple of days ago I posted about GMO foods and how dangerous they
are. Thanks to several comments by readers, I did more thorough research
and completely changed my mind.

I encourage you to read some or all of the articles I included at the
end of this post and see if you come to the same conclusion. Here’s
what I learned in a nutshell:

1. The process by which plants are genetically modified in labs is
not substantially different than the way foods have been genetically
modified by nature, selective breeding, or hybridization for millenniums.
But in a laboratory, far fewer genes are altered and the outcome is
far more predictable. Virtually all the foods we eat (including “organic”
ones) have been genetically modified for centuries, but in a much more
random fashion than we are able to do intentionally in a laboratory.
If those did not produce toxic food that led to the destruction of the
human race, it is even less likely that intentionally modified plants

2. Many of these lab efforts have been to specifically make a food
grow better in harsh soil or weather conditions, include more vitamins,
and/or be more resistant to insects. That means less pesticide use by
farmers and that’s a good thing. That results in a plant that
is 99.999999% the same as what you’ve been eating, it just no
longer includes genes that make it wilt in the hot sun or taste good
to aphids. Does that sound like it will give you a crab claw like Moe?


I’m not embarrassed that I was wrong and had to change my story.
That’s the best thing about being an open-minded, reason-based
person instead of, say, a politician; you don’t stick to erroneous
beliefs in the face of new evidence for fear that people will think
you are fallible. If everyone lived this way, the world would be much
less ignorant, as I am today thanks to information given to me by some
of my Jazz Pickles. Thanks!

The debate rages on (you can view the arguments from both sides on the
web easily. Here’s one for labeling GMO food by Mark Bittman over at The
New York Times’ The
Opinion Pages
and here’s the counter-argument from Steve Savage over
at Science
) but what I love about Dan’s post is how he started out having
a preconception about something but changed his mind after learning more
about the subject.

Dan’s posts over at Bizarro Comic: Mutation
, Schooled!