Why GMOs should be accepted in light of the tomato blight

I was sorry to read in Elizabeth Hwang’s article (“The tomato tragedy,” Sept. 23) that blight has ruined the Peace Valley Farm’s crop, which is sad.

Last Wednesday I read the new issue of the journal Nature (Sept. 17, issue available at Schow Library), which has a color picture of a big, blighted potato filling the cover, with the headline “Blighted Harvest: Genome sequence unearths roots of potato pathogen’s adaptability.” It reminded me that in addition to being upset by the tomato blight, I was also upset by the idea that, as stated in the Record article, “Organic farmers are particularly hard hit as they can’t use pesticides and, in most cases – certainly that of the Peace Valley Farm – reject the idea of genetically modified plants.” There is no valid reason why people shouldn’t grow and eat genetically modified foods, and it is upsetting to me to see a scientific solution rejected out of hand.

We deal with such issues in my course Astronomy 336, Science and Pseudoscience, which I probably will give in the spring of 2011.

Jay Pasachoff
Professor of Astronomy