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It seems to me that anti-GMO activists are open and proud discriminators on the basis of sex. Transgenic breeding techniques are targeted methods of introducing genes with particularly desirable characteristics into a plant or animal species. These very same characteristics have been for thousands of years, and can currently be, bred traditionally into plant and animal species. The outcomes are no different – in fact since transgenic approaches presumably can better target the genes to be transferred, there is very likely to be less of a concern regarding unintended side-effects and other acquired traits when these characteristics are introduced using modern biological technologies over more “traditional” breeding methods and certainly from mutation breeding.

Thus, to restate what we’ve argued here before, being opposed to “Genetic Modification” of plants and animals because they are GMOS and not because of the actual characteristics that are being selected for, is very akin to being opposed to parents conceiving of children through different sexual positions and practices. I’d pay a lot of money (OK, I wouldn’t, but I’d get a smile) to see a child advocacy group say, because they are concerned about the health of children, that only children produced via the missionary sexual position should be permitted.

Now, of course, I am taking the  very worst of the anti-GMO characterizations here, but those do seem to get more press than the moderate and understandable concerns some people may have. This report from the National Academy of Sciences does the GMO-thingy the right way. It takes all of the concerns seriously, and invited the harshest critics like Greenpeace to be part of the discussion process in putting together this report. This report ought to be the baseline for how the public discussion of GMOs takes place – but in my admittedly jaded view, the hysterical and sexually discriminating claims of the activists end up being the starting points for most conversations. This baseline framing of the issue is in my view not correct. But what do I know, I am only an economist.

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