We feel that genetic engineering is an important and crucial technology. Ignorance and myths surrounding this field hinders advancement at best and harms at worst. It’s especially a concern to us as vegans for these reasons:
- Animal testing: Insisting on unfounded safety testing leads to more animals being harmed in order to perform this testing.
- Animal alternatives: GM technology can help create alternatives to animal products. For example, insulin used to be obtained from slaughtered animals; now it is manufactured by genetically modified bacteria. It could also be possible to use GM technology to replace animal foods. Cheese has been difficult to mock, and the lack of acceptable vegan cheese analogues could be a barrier for many potential vegans.
- Nutrition & Health: GM technology can benefit vegans by creating plants rich in nutrients vegans lack, such as vitamin B12 and DHA. This would make it easier for people to go and stay vegan. Recently, CSIRO scientists have been enabling canola plants to produce DHA. People who are vegan need DHA, and synthetic DHA can help save the lives of fish, who are often used as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. People are animals too, and there are many in dire need of help. GM technology could help bring essential nutrients to starving populations, and GM foods could even be used as vehicles for vaccine delivery.
- Environment: Creating plants that use fewer pesticides and fertilizers will help us strive toward a sustainable agriculture that’s less detrimental to all life on this planet. Fewer insects would be killed, less runoff will poison fish, and no- or low-till agriculture will save the lives of ground-dwelling animals.
There are many in the vegan community co-opting the vegan cause with conspiratorial thinking and junk information on GMO. The best antidote to this is good critical thinking. Please be sure the source for your information is well-qualified and scientific.
To start please give a listen to Vegan Chicago’s podcast with Dr. Kevin Folta: Frankenfoods: Cornerstones of the Next Green Revolution