Joe Orso was wrong in his condemnation of genetically modified foods (GMO) in his column in Sunday’s Tribune.
In fact, we have been genetically modifying our foods for thousands of years through a process called hybridization. Hybridization involves cross-pollinating plants of different species to try and breed in desirable traits. However, there are limits to this, and often the offspring can be sterile.
Both of these barriers can be overcome with the more precise method of direct genetic modification.
Billions of people have had their lives saved through genetic modification of organisms. In 1982, synthetic insulin became available by splicing the insulin gene into bacteria, and today this is how all insulin is produced. Human growth hormone and Hepatitis B vaccines also owe their existence to GMO.
Norman Borlaug, through pioneering in the use of hybridization and genetically modified crops, is thought to have saved more lives than any other human being, which is estimated to be about 1 billion. His advances led to crops that could thrive in dry conditions and in areas where pesticides and herbicides were not available.
Inserting desirable genes into organisms is nothing new. All of the food you eat is the product of thousands of years of selective breeding and hybridization and genetic manipulation. The difference is that now we have the technology to do this in a very precise way that we heretofore lacked.
You have nothing to fear from genetically modified foods.