Happy Sukkoth! Forgive the clickbait title, I couldnt think of a better way to phrase it.
GMO companies are trying to create a reduced gluten wheat, something that existed and was common until Norman Borlaug created a new type of wheat that increased yields (and gluten levels), but decreased nutritional value. Borlaug is frequently cited as a GMO success story for “saving a billion lives” despite the fact that he neither used genetic engineering nor did he save a billion lives. Malnourishment has remained roughly the same nominally for the past 40 years. Why do we need to create something that has already existed for 10,000 years?
The answer, of course, is that genetic engineering has absolutely nothing to do with improving food supplies. Almost every supposed “success” story (eg golden rice) has proven to be a hoax and absurd premise to begin with. Somehow, developing countries cant naturally get the full nutrition supply that the developed world was able to on its own. What GMOs are really about is using the force of government to completely take over the food supply. Crops and animals cannot be patented. But those with artificially modified genomes can. This enables the patent owner to have a complete monopoly on the plant or animal for several years. By pushing this hard into the food industry, with government subsidies as well, they are able to take a captive profit that would not exist in the free market.
Yes, contrary to the scifi fantasies of GMO proponents in the libertarian community, genetically engineered organisms would not likely exist in a free market. Since patents would not exist, there would be no incentive to invest millions and billions into something that marginally, if at all, improves society. And considering the millions that also comes from the government for research, if there were no such grants, the research likely would not occur.
Regarding GMOs generally, there was a strong push to get the government to mandate labelling of food products that contain GMO ingredients. Despite the fact that more than 5 in 6 Americans wanted such a mandate, it never happened. However, I noticed a few years ago, on an OSEM product, it said “Made with genetically engineered ingredients”. Such disclaimers have exploded across food labels. It seems to mostly be corn and soy in processed foods, which also happen to be the most genetically engineered crops in the United States. The market spoke and the suppliers responded, all without any government force. This should be a case study for libertarian advocates. Additionally, the non-GMO project has seen its label affixed to more and more products, even those that are not even remotely organic. Again, the market responded to consumer demands.
Bonus: It is commonly claimed by GE proponents that artificial selection is the same as genetic engineering. This is a disingenuous statement meant to obfuscate thing. Artificial selection is when humans breed two organisms together to get a desired result. It has to be within the same or similar species. Genetic engineering, however, uses multiple techniques to insert a supposedly desired trait from one organism into another. A high school biology class will explain that genes are complex and highly interactive. Traits and genes can rarely be tied one for one with each other. This is where concern about GE technology stems from. Inserting genes into other organisms might have harmful effects that we did not know about until much later. Since there is no pressing need for GMOs, they do not need to be rushed.