Proponents of genetically engineered crops and animals point to COVID vaccines as a validation of GM crops and animals — but the Pfizer vaccine was chemically synthesized and is not in any sense “GM.”
With over 2 million dead, and countries as developed as the UK and the U.S. failing miserably to contain the virus, it’s understandable that many see vaccines as a silver bullet that can save the world from the illness and death, never mind the social isolation and economic collapse, that the current pandemic is leaving in its wake. It’s perhaps equally unsurprising that hard pressed promoters of genetically modified (GM) crops and animals are seeing this as an ideal marketing opportunity.
Charles hates GM. Will he spurn this vaccine? ran a headline in the Sunday Times to an article that declared, “Pfizer shows us genetic modification could protect humanity from COVID-19.” Its author Dominic Lawson, lambasts the heir to the UK throne for his well known opposition to GM crops, and claims that it is politics, rather than science, that can “obstruct or even deny society the full benefits of scientific breakthroughs. This is true of genetic modification more widely.”
Lawson’s thesis is somewhat undermined by his record as a rightwing idealogue who has long argued against the scientific consensus on climate change. There’s also the little matter of the Pfizer vaccine being chemically synthesized rather than genetically engineered. In other words, contrary to Lawson’s claim, the Pfizer vaccine is not in any sense “GM.”
But Lawson is far from the only GM spin doctor trying to use vaccines for COVID-19 as a validation of GM crops and animals. Lawson’s sometime ally Mark Lynas is at it too, albeit with a tad more accuracy as regards the Pfizer vaccine, using his perennial gimmick of smearing all GM crop critics as anti-science.
And then there’s former vice president of the National Farmers Union and founder of the European Biotech Forum, Paul Temple, who writes: “New genetic technology has been welcomed, with the incredible speed of vaccine development. The crisis of COVID-19 would be worse than it already is if we had not had this technology adopted and accepted in its use.