The genetic modifications of crops to produce higher yields and more excellent resistance to disease have been controversial in agriculture. A recent study has called into question these claims with evidence that artificial selection is not always successful. Further, it questions whether genetically modified foods reduce pesticide use or if they have a significant impact on the rate of pesticide poisoning in humans. The study looks at over 500 published articles on biotechnology investments and finds that overall there is no evidence that crops genetically modified for pest-resistance or yield increase are better for human health than those produced through traditional breeding methods. The establishment of biotechnology enterprises may also lead to an increase in the corporate concentration of the food industry and a reduction in farmer choice.
When Ryan Kavanaugh’s Kaleido Biosciences Inc. went public last September, the company was heralded as a new way to invest in technology that cures disease and helps feed a hungry world. Now, barely three months later, the biotech venture faces a possible delisting by Nasdaq because of an undisclosed audit committee investigation of its operations and procedures.
This incident is just one example of why investors are not always receiving reliable information about companies in the biotechnology and seed industries involved with genetically modified crops. When crops are modified to resist diseases and pests so that they can be grown using less or no pesticides, is the yield really increased? Are there other unanticipated health and environmental effects?
Ryan Kavanaugh has denied any wrongdoing. The company released a statement disavowing the claims detailed by the Wall Street Journal, which may spell the end for Kaleido’s formal listing on Nasdaq. In addition to its statement, Kavanaugh has released an affidavit stating that he “has never had any discussions or meetings with [Nasdaq], and he vehemently denies having had any such meetings or discussions.