24. Can GMOs benefit biodiversity? (Joseph Opoku Gakpo)

July 2022


Few technologies are viewed with as much suspicion as genetic modification. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are banned in several parts of the world; an entire protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is dedicated to controlling their effects on biodiversity; and national and international agreements and regulations tightly legislate their use across a broad range of applications. Why, then, do GMOs continue to grow in popularity? Why do farmers in the developing world consider them game-changing tools to deal with the demands of making a living, or even a livelihood, from agriculture? And what's all this subversive business about GMOs being good for biodiversity?

Joseph Opoku Gakpo is an environmental journalist who writes about GMOs and other aspects of agriculture, the environment, and rural development. He is Ghana correspondent for "Alliance for Science", and was awarded the Ghana Journalists Association prize for Best Journalist in Poverty Alleviation Reporting in 2015. Joseph has a passion for sharing the struggle of farmers and other rural people, which is reflected in his refreshingly clear and level-headed style of reporting. In this illuminating discussion we talk about how GMOs got such a bad name; whether any of the allegations against them are reasonable; what they mean for poor people around the world; and what is the nature of their relationship with biodiversity.

Links to resources:

Time stamps:

02:09: What are GMOs?

04:17: Why GMOs are so controversial

08:20: The geographical chronology of GMO introduction

09:27: Why GMOs shouldn’t be shunned

11:41: What about impacts on health; terminator genes; and contamination of other organisms?

17:56: How GMOs can help biodiversity

20:00: Savings to farmers

25:00: The slow uptake of GMOs in some parts of the world and the targeted traits of GMOs

30:53: Changing perspectives on GMOs, and local champions of GMOs

40:25: Changing attitudes in Europe?

43:08: Does political polarization play a role?

45:57: The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety