Ilya Somin at the The Washington Post highlights a survey conducted by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics that found that over 80% of Americans surveyed support the “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA.”
Insert groaning and a collective face palm.
Since all cells on earth, with very few exceptions, have DNA in them, virtually every bite of plant, animal or fungus, contains DNA. And the less processed the food, the more intact the DNA. Somin recommended the following tongue-in-cheek warning label:
WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children.
Then he goes on to lament the general scientific ignorance of the American public that can easily go about their day with no idea of what DNA is or what it does. That is true. We can forget everything we learned in our high school biology class and still lead a productive life. Many people find scientific ignorance blissful.
Here is the problem. If even close to 80% of American do not immediately realize that they have been ingesting DNA for most of their lives, then how can we have even a snowball’s chance in hell of intelligently discussing genetic engineering of plants, animals or humans?
The United States has absolutely no federal legislation on human genetic engineering, and the public has no idea that we are on the brink of creating genetically-modified children.
We are apparently distracted by the possibility that there is any DNA, let alone modified DNA, in our food.
The optimist in me hopes that the American public will wake up in time to harness the genetic engineering beast before it breaks out of the coral and tramples us all to death.
This survey may have single-handedly squashed any hopes I had.
I think all that is left is prayer.
Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly