National Geographic gets it spectacularly wrong on GM
Reporter Jeremy Berlin and pro-GMO scientist Pam Ronald used the example of a non-GM rice variety to argue that GM is necessary to feed the world. Claire Robinson reports
On 4 May National Geographic published an article by Jeremy Berlin that featured pro-GMO scientist Pam Ronald talking about submergence-tolerant (flood-tolerant) rice. Ronald and her team have developed a variety of such rice called Sub1.
The article eulogized both Ronald and GM, using Ronald’s marriage to an organic farmer to suggest that only a combination of GM and organic farming will feed the world: “Only by combining elements of each, she contends, will we have a chance of feeding the world’s swelling population (expected to reach 9.2 billion by 2050) while also protecting the planet’s natural resources and countenancing the effects of climate change.”
The article was enthusiastically subtitled, “Pamela Ronald isolates genes in rice that feeds millions. Her integrative approach to agriculture could be an even bigger game-changer.”
The reader would have come away with the message that while organic farming has worthwhile contributions to make, it can only succeed in feeding the world if GM is also used.
One big problem with this message is that the example promoted in the article, of submergence-tolerant rice, is not GM but the product of conventional breeding.