TECHNOLOGY, FOOD, & THE WORLD: WHY DO WE LOVE iPHONES BUT HATE GMOS?

Let’s face it—our world loves technology.  Every year, the iPhone has outsold itself the year before and tablet ownership has increased by 1,400% since 2010.  In the medical world, we can now enjoy needle-free diabetic care and even treatments to halt ALS progression.  In every industry, advancements in technology give us a better quality of life at half the effort.

So why is it when technological advancements are made in agriculture—namely in biotechnology—the world immediately rejects it?

“The same companies making GMO seeds are the ones that make pesticides.  It’s unethical!”

Yes, Monsanto does produce the herbicide Roundup,  a product used to control weeds in crop production, and a variety of herbicide-tolerant crop seeds—seeds that can survive herbicide application.

However, selling complimentary products aren’t exclusive to agriculture.lightningconnectorplug-294352

Look at Apple. In 2012, Apple introduced the iPhone 5, which used the Lightning connector to charge and connect the device.  Additionally, Apple sold—and still sells—the new Lightning connector and old connectors, as well as charging port adapters.

Neither situation is more unethical than the other.

“Well, I’ve heard these GMOs have caused cancer and other diseases.”

At this point, there have been no credible and conclusive studies that have linked GMOs to cancer or other diseases.

The world has its concerns, and it should.

pi_2015-10-29_device-ownership_0-02Our health is important, and new products of any kind should be carefully evaluated for short- and long-term risks. There have been carcinogenic risks associated with cell phone usage for almost as long as they have been in use, yet smartphone ownership is more than 80% in ages 18-29 and 30-49.

There are risks in life, no matter what new product or method we use.

“GMOs have to be linked to the rising obesity rates, right?”

Wrong.

Well, right and wrong.

GMOs aren’t solely responsible for the rise in obesity—all of technology is.

In the last century, humans have made stellar advancements in technology.  From cars and machinery to grocery stores and microwave ovens to computers and smartphones, our world no longer has to work hard to work and live.

However, our diet and lifestyle changes haven’t matched these rapid changes in technology, and obesity and obesity-related illnesses are on the rise.

So why does the world seem to love technological advancements in every part of our lives, except agriculture?

Simply put, we are all selfish creatures, and we fear what we don’t understand.

Human behavior allows us to care about things that are relevant to us in our day-to-day lives.  When we don’t have to learn about something, we don’t.  When we don’t understand something, we fear it.

We all use cell phones, drive cars, and eat food daily. In the U.S., only 2% of people work to produce food daily. Those of us in the remaining 98% still want to see the red barn with a chicken, a cow, a horse, and a pig hanging out together outside.  We don’t understand why corn would need to be genetically altered, and we fear what it could do.

There is still hope.  Humans don’t stop learning from the day they’re born to the day they die.

Those of us who do understand need to communicate with those who don’t. We need to make this information relevant and available for everyone. We need to keep an open dialogue so we can stop the spread of misinformation.

Keep talking, keep asking questions, and keep using technology.  The world is a better place because of it.

molly_novotney

Molly Novotney
University of Illinois

About corncorps

As Illinois' corn farmers, we're proud to power a sustainable economy through ethanol, livestock and nutritious food. We love agriculture, the land and CornBelters baseball.See http://ilcorn.org or follow us on Twitter, http://twitter.com/ilcorn.
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