Renowned Expert: GMOs Pose More Risk Than We Think
http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/03/05/ ... -we-think/
Source: Nassim Taleb, Quozio
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have the ability to cause "an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet."
This warning, as emotional and overstated as it sounds, isn't coming from some anti-science zealot or conspiracy theorist.
It is, instead, coming from Nassim Taleb, distinguished professor of risk engineering at New York University, author of best-sellers The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, and shrewd investor who made a fortune when "black swans" like September 11 and the Great Recession occurred.
Recently, he's been making his feelings on GMOs crystal clear: they're dangerous to the overall health of our planet. In a paper that's available to the public, yet still in draft form, Taleb -- along with two colleagues -- lay out their case.
GMOs are historically different from their naturally occurring peers in that their genetic make-up has been altered in a laboratory before being planted in fields.
Often, these types of seeds are favored because of their ability to yield larger harvests and avoid certain pests or weeds that usually eat up some of their productivity.
Source: Lindsay Eyink, via Wikimedia Commons
Taleb's primary concern isn't that ingesting GMOs is necessarily bad for us; he's instead focused on the monumental threat such technology has on our worldwide ecosystem. While Taleb agrees that the relative risk of any one transgenic seed ruining the ecosystem is incredibly small, people are still underestimating the risks involved.
That's because, as humans, we are ill equipped to understand the mathematics behind such risks. Let's say each GM seed that's produced holds a 0.1% chance of -- somehow, in the intricately interdependent web of nature -- leading to a catastrophic breakdown of the ecosystem that we rely on for life. All by itself, it doesn't seem too harmful, but with each new seed that's developed, the risk gets greater and greater.
The chart below demonstrates how, over time, even a 0.1% chance of ecocide can be dangerous.
I cannot stress enough that the probabilities I am using are for illustrative purposes only. Neither I, nor Taleb, claim to know what the chances are of any one type of seed causing such destruction.
The focus, instead, should be on the fact that the "total ecocide barrier" is bound to be hit, over a long enough time, with even incredibly small odds. Taleb includes a similar graph in his work, but no breakdown of the actual variables at play.
New Yorkin yliopiston professori Nassim Taleb sanoo ettĂ¤ geenimuunneltu ruoka on vaaraksi koko maapallolle.