OUR OPINION: Sprinkle on the beet sugar, and smile

OUR OPINION: Sprinkle on the beet sugar, and smile

Throw open the doors of your cupboard and refrigerator, and glory in the display. It's a true cornucopia of delicious and ready-to-eat food, so varied and abundant that almost no one before the modern age could have enjoyed the same view: Soups, sauces, cookies, crackers, dressings, juices, yogurts, ice cream, pop, pastries ...

Go ahead. Chow down.

And do so happy in the knowledge that while the ordinary rules of nutrition apply, your feasting on products containing sugar made from genetically modified sugar beets will subject you to essentially no risk of GMO-related disease.

That's because there are no GMO-related diseases. Nor are there any other ill effects from genetically modified sugar beets or any of the other genetically modified staples of the modern American diet.

What fun it is to defy the scolds, and to bask in the knowledge that Americans — who've now been consuming DNA-manipulated ingredients for years, so much so that every cell of every person's body likely has been touched by the technology — keep living longer and healthier lives than ever before.

But how sad that so many consumers give in to dietary prejudices, and that some of those biases now are affecting the sugar beet industry.

"America's sugar beet growers are under siege as U.S. food companies increasingly shun genetically modified crops," as Reuters reported recently.

Well, if we were to bet, we'd put our money on genetically modified sugar beets to win — not next week or next month, but certainly over the long haul.

And that's only partly because of our vow to counteract any boycotts by buying foods containing beet sugar every chance we get.

It's also because science has a way of winning out in these debates. And as debates go, there are none in which the scientific findings are more lopsided, coming down entirely as they do on the side of the modern food growing and processing industries.

As the American Association for the Advancement of Science concludes, "consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques."

As the European Commission agrees, "the main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies."

Count on trade groups, food manufacturers and public-health authorities to keep trumpeting such conclusions from the rooftops. Count on the evidence of people's senses, too — the awareness that as the years pass and the mountains of GM crops consumed grow, it matters that not one person anywhere in the world suffers so much as a sniffle as a result.

In short, count on the doomsayers to be discredited, as the doom they keep forecasting fails to appear. Meanwhile, scoop some GMO-saturated ice cream into a bowl and top it off with GMO-laden chocolate syrup. Because even for food activists, that's just plain good.

- Tom Dennis for the Herald