As explained in a 2009 post and by others before me, "insect-resistent" GM plants have in fact been engineered to produce food that's literally full of poison.
Lately I'm hearing stories on public radio (the only traditional-media news product I regularly consume) about "good" GM – how spider genes have enabled silkworms to create stronger silk, and how sunflower seeds have been engineered to produce more cooking oil.
I hope this surfacing of the GM discussion results from an independent, journalistic initiative on the part of public radio – that seems possible, since I believe I also heard mention that the use of environmentally-hazardous pesticides or other chemicals has actually increased with the use of GM crops. Alternatively, the coverage may arise from a p.r. initiative on the part of the GM industry.
Regardless, I welcome the discussion, since I think genetic engineering is here to stay and does in fact offer the potential to help us build a better world quicker than natural selection might otherwise do.
But for purposes of the discussion, it would seem useful to distinguish between GMOs that deploy different kinds of strategies – e.g., for starters, to distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous GMOs (since creating organisms that produce intrinsically poisonous food would seem more obviously likely to give rise to undesirable consequences).
To do that, we need new, clear terms – and we should expect that any terms the industry might propose will not be clear.
So let's propose some ourselves. Here's an initial attempt:
"Poisonous GMO": a GMO engineered to cause death or illness in any living organism, or to impair or inhibit the reproductivity or functioning of otherwise healthy, normal or typical living organisms.Alternative or additional suggestions welcome.
"Non-Poisonous GMO": a GMO which is not a Poisonous GMO, as defined above.