Do you want GMOs on your table? (Yuqing Yang)
In 2003, I studied as an exchange student at the University of Hawaii, and I was able to conduct a research project with the help of a biotechnologist at the Hawaii Agricultural Research Center. In the process of interviewing researchers in biotechnology, a manager of a local agricultural corporation, and an exporting professional, I was introduced to the topic of GMOs. The research experience gave birth to my paper Genetically Modified Organisms and Intellectually Property Rights. Three economists James Oehmke, Mywish Maredia and Dave Weatherspoon presented a dynamic model in 2001 pointing out that Europe’s policy on prohibiting the consumption of agricultural biotechnology products provides the South with a unique opportunity to engage in biotechnology production and trade. Nevertheless, that the developing countries would become the winner of biotechnology as the model suggested seems to me an overstatement, at least in the short run it is unlikely. The continuing uncertainty over market access for GM products in Europe will reduce the pace worldwide of innovation intended for international markets. The developing countries that are engaged in biotechnology are likely to redirect their efforts towards meeting local needs or even in some cases put restrictions on producing certain varieties.
Back then, my concern was mainly with GM products’ leverage in international trade war. GMOs have been considered a blessing for boosting agricultural yields, but, like the chemicals in Safe and the pesticide poisoning in Heroes and Saints, they are also under harsh criticism. When GM papaya was introduced into Hawaii, the biotech industry said it was a solution to the papaya ringspot virus problem. Five years after the planting of GM papaya was approved in Hawaii, scientists found that it is more susceptible to other plant disease as “black spot” fungus. Hawaii farmers thus lost their biggest export markets. In other words, the plantation of GM papaya has not only caused the price drop of local papaya, it may have also posed other environmental issues to local farmers. Then what is your view on GM food? Do you think GM food could be as poisonous as the chemicals? Do you feel comfortable with your table ornamented by GM corn, GM rice and GM papaya?