Confession of an Anti-GMO Activist
In a now-famous segment of his talk show, Jimmy Kimmel sent a reporter out to a West Coast farmers market in 2014 to ask food-conscious shoppers what they thought of GMOs. All the interviewees declared their horrified avoidance of GMOs—and then, predictably, failed to come up with an explanation for what the letters “G.M.O.” stand for.
The answer, of course, is “genetically modified organism.” First launched commercially on a wide scale in U.S. agriculture in 1996, GMOs are typically plants or animals whose genomes have been modified by the addition of one or more genes from another species. From the outset they were met with controversy and resistance, dubbed “Frankenfoods” and subject to boycotts and protests that continue to this day in many countries.
Opposition was largely inspired and led by environmentalists, who asserted that genetically modified crops and foods would cause a range of harms. They argued that GMOs would damage the environment, because some were bred to withstand weed killers, which would then be used to excess.
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