Broad generalizations can provide for powerful rhetoric. Whether discussing a moonshot to cure cancer or the merits of genetically modified foods, the strongest statements lump distinct things together — the dozens of types of cancer, for instance, or the myriad crops that scientists have genetically altered. But broad statements about the value or risks from genetically modified organisms are pretty much useless, Rachel Ehrenberg reports. The details matter.
More than two-thirds of foods sold in the United States involve some GM product, estimates suggest. Years of study have revealed little reason for concern about human health. Other research shows that, ecologically, certain GMOs can have less than desirable impacts. But many effects can be predicted and worked around. GM salmon, for example, run the