Viva gli OGM!

Il titolo potrebbe sembrare ironico, di questi tempi, ma vi assicuro che non lo è.

In una società nella quale l’irrazionalità sembra farla da padrone, le affermazioni dei sostenitori di pratiche mistico-religiose, come l’agricoltura biodinamica, vengono credute senza onere di prova. Non c’è da stupirsi, visto che lo stesso trattamento di favore viene garantito a idiozie (o truffe) come l’astrologia o la pranoterapia. Le basi scientifiche sono le stesse, del resto: totalmente inesistenti.

Nello stesso solco si inseriscono, come il rovescio di una medaglia, gli allarmi infondati e il rifiuto aprioristico delle tecnologie che possono veramente migliorare le condizioni di vita di intere popolazioni.

Ogni tanto, mi fa piacere invece scoprire qualche voce levarsi in difesa della ragione, contro i fondamentalismi di ogni tipo. Oggi deve essere un giorno fortunato perchè, scorrendo la mia personale lista di blog “scettici”, mi sono imbattuto non in uno, ma in ben due articoli che mi hanno fatto un gran piacere in questo senso.

Prima, Confessions of a Quackbuster ci segnala una recensione di The March of Unreason: Science, Democracy and the New Fundamentalism, di Dick Taverne, apparsa sul Washington Times. Cito dei brani della recensione, nei quali ho evidenziato alcune affermazioni salienti (sorry per l’inglese, ma potete trovare una approssimativa traduzione qui).

He notes the paradox that as people live longer and safer lives, they seem to be increasingly obsessed with societal risks of all sorts, and that as society devises better prevention and treatment of disease and produces more nutritious and varied food more efficiently, more people turn to alternative medicine such as homeopathy and quack remedies, and denounce the most precise and predictable methods for the genetic improvement of crop plants. Remorselessly and effectively, he skewers the mania for organic food, the popularity of astrology and other forms of mysticism, and the widespread but baseless bias that ‘nature knows best.’

[…] Mr. Taverne characterizes as “a monument to irrationality” the trend toward consumers’ buying overpriced organic food, promoted by advocates whose “principles are founded on a scientific howler; it is governed by rules that have no rhyme or reason, and its propaganda could have an adverse effect on the health of poor people.”

[…] Mr. Taverne argues compellingly that the conflict over gene-spliced crops is the most important battle of all between the forces of reason and unreason, both because of the consequences should the forces of darkness prevail, and also because their arguments are so perverse and so consistently and completely wrong.

[…] More than 80 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves “soft drinks, preserves, mayonnaise, salad dressings” contain ingredients from gene-spliced plants, and Americans have consumed more than a trillion servings of these foods. From the dirt to the dinner plate, not a single ecosystem has been disrupted, or a person injured, by any gene-spliced product ” a record that is superior to that of conventional foods.

Poi, da Skeptico, apprendiamo i risultati di uno studio sull’uso del riso geneticamente modificato in Cina:

One of the arguments against genetically engineered crops is that they benefit the seed companies, but not the farmers.

The authors of the new study disagree.

They found that Chinese farmers using rice engineered to resist insect pests made huge savings on insecticides, compared with their neighbours who had planted ordinary hybrid strains.

This had nothing to do with any specialist guidance the farmers received, because they were left to manage their crops as they saw fit.

As well as cutting costs, the researchers say, the farmers benefited from better health.

Pesticides in China are cheap and widely used, but poison an estimated 50,000 farmers a year, up to 500 fatally.

In sostanza, gli alimenti OGM non solo non fanno male, ma fanno bene a chi li coltiva, non solo alle multinazionali che vendono le sementi.

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