GMOs: More word games (Editorial)

(July 8, 2014) Point-counterpoint: In this instance in theory, not in music.
Witness these two recent news releases:
Point: This month, food chain Panera Bread announced it would remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from all its food products by 2016.
Now, activists hope the chain will go a step further and follow Chipotle in swearing off GMOs too.
A new Care2 petition urging the company to eliminate GMO ingredients from its products has been signed by more than 2,000 people since launching.
Counterpoint: Sixteen organizations of producers and millers in the United States, Australia and Canada have pledged support for the future commercialization of biotechnology in wheat.
Reuters reported Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company, has announced it was making good progress on development of an herbicide-tolerant wheat, pushing what would be the world’s first biotech wheat a step closer to market.
Monsanto is already a leading developer of biotech corn, soybeans and other crops, and the company has long tried to bring to market a wheat genetically altered to tolerate spraying of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
“The grain industry and the wheat industry ... have remained very interested and supportive of biotech advances,” said Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley in a conference call. “A wheat farmer is also generally a corn and soybean farmer, and they understand the benefits of the technology.”
Fraley said while the company continues to make advances, it is still “several years away” from a biotech wheat product.
Note, please, dear reader, the subtle change in these two news releases. GMO, which stands for genetically modified organism, has come to designate, in our contemporary culture, a food crop that should be avoided at all costs.
Activists claim — and science disputes — that we do not yet know if messing with the genetic makeup of food crops renders them unsuitable and unsafe for human consumption.
We’ve been eating GMOs for two decades.
Still, the anti-GMO fuss continues and has new spread, perhaps inevitably, to Panera, providing an interesting scenario.
Panera’s offerings — and reputation — are based on bread. Bread is made of wheat, of course, and biotech wheat is nearing the market. The company dare not, for obvious reasons, eliminate GMOs from its offerings.
Unless, of course, Panera’s bakers could reject the dreaded “GMO wheat,” and turn instead to “biotech wheat,” avoiding the feared initials.
Note, by way of comparison, the fact that global warming has been replaced by climate change in the public vernacular.
Ah, the word games we play!