It's a 'no-brainer'
The anti-GMO campaign does not even have the benefit of intellectual coherence. If you truly think that herbicide-tolerant biotech crops are an evil plot by Monsanto to achieve a stranglehold on the entire world's food supply, why would you also oppose all other non-patented and open-source applications of biotechnology, which have nothing to do with Monsanto, apparently without exception? This is like being against all computer software because you object to the dominant position of Microsoft Office.
So if you think that Bt corn is bad for U.S. farmers – despite all the evidence to the contrary, it shouldn't necessarily follow that you also have to ban virus-resistant papaya, or oppose a blight-resistant potato in Ireland.
This matters today more than ever because we are entering an age of increasingly threatening ecological scarcity. The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences released a consensus statement on [biotechnology]:
"The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe... The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence have come to the same conclusion: 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."
Of course conventional agriculture has well-documented and major environmental failings. But the flip side of this is that intensive agriculture's extremely efficient use of land is conversely of great ecological benefit. If we had tried to produce all of today's yield using the technologies of 1960, we would have had to cultivate an additional 3 billion hectares, the area of two South Americas.
Everything is changing. Food demand will inevitably skyrocket this half-century because of the twin pressures of population growth and economic development. We need to sustainably increase food production by at least 100% by 2050 to feed a larger and increasingly affluent global population.
Genetic modification is not a silver bullet. But surely seeds which deliver higher levels of nutrition, which protect the resulting plant against pests without the need for expensive chemical inputs, and which have greater yield resilience in drought years are least worth a try? Real-world evidence so far gives grounds for optimism.
This was the warning Norman Borlaug left us with: "If the naysayers do manage to stop agricultural biotechnology, they might actually precipitate the famines and the crisis of global biodiversity they have been predicting for nearly 40 years."
The only way conspiracy theories die is if more and more people wake up to reality and reject them. I hope we are close to this tipping point today. With just a little extra push, we can all join in consigning anti-GMO denialism to the dustbin of history where it belongs.