Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics (Sep 2018)

Counterproductive consequences of ‘anti-GMO’ activism

  • G Tagliabue

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18
pp. 61 – 74


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Activist groups which oppose so-called ‘genetically modified organisms’ (GMOs) frequently affirm that they want to fight corporations and capitalism. While I do not discuss whether this legitimate ideological-political attitude is good or bad, right or wrong, I try to show that such avowed anti-industrial struggle in the field of green biotechnologies not only fails to hit the supposed target, but benefits and supports a sector of the industry whose products have a greater environmental impact than recombinant DNA (rDNA) cultivars. Therefore, GMO opponents are exploited by a part of the capitalistic front they are combating. In the meantime, steadfast resistance to GMOs as an indiscriminate whole creates heavy collateral damage, impeding the development of public and philanthropic biotech outcomes; such crops would help those whom activists declaredly want to protect: the poor. This detrimental action is based on one counterproductive and enormous mistake: the indiscriminate rejection of GMOs takes away precious energies from productive environmental and social battles.