Monday, April 21, 2008

In Lean Times, Biotech Grains Are Less Taboo

       People tend to magnify their concerns over risks when there is no practical cost to doing so. Similarly, when there is no direct burden to them, people tend to take “better safe than sorry” as their overarching principle.
       This approach makes sense in many situations. Unfortunately, this shorthand approach creates the illusion that real risk assessment has been applied. When there is no personal stake in the costs, for example, benefits are overlooked and risks and benefits are not balanced.
       With rising food prices and grain shortages looming, perhaps we will see more balanced assessments of genetic modifications.
Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.
In Japan and South Korea, some manufacturers for the first time have begun buying genetically engineered corn for use in soft drinks, snacks and other foods. Until now, to avoid consumer backlash, the companies have paid extra to buy conventionally grown corn. But with prices having tripled in two years, it has become too expensive to be so finicky. . . .

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