Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
What Is the GMO Controversy?
Suppose you are a citizen of France, China, or Germany—three
among ten nations that consume horse meat. You enter a store
to purchase a few pounds of the meat, but for some reason
are worried that the owner is actually selling you meat from a
different type of animal. Finding the store manager, you ask
him whether he can guarantee that the meat labeled “horse
meat” really came from a horse. He laughs and says, “Well,
I raise the animals myself, and I can guarantee that every ani-
mal was born from a horse!” He is mocking you, and though
too embarrassed to argue, you are still suspicious, and after
buying the meat you send it to a lab for testing.
When the results come back it turns out that the owner was
deceiving you and telling the truth at the same time. The meat
came from a mule, not a horse, but mules are the offspring of a
male donkey and female horse. Is mule meat so different from
horse meat that the store was engaging in false advertising,
or is a mule close enough to a horse that the store's actions
were acceptable? That depends not so much on laboratory tests
but whether consumers believe horses and mules are basically
the same type of animal. Likewise, people's attitudes towards
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) depend on whether
a GM plant (or animal) is considered just another variation of
the same species, or something very different.
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