Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why protest GMO's?

Perhaps you've seen food products that claim "no GMO ingredients". GMO, meaning Genetically Modified Organisms- those scientifically bred grains and produce that the scientist change to make them "better". Perhaps you've wondered "what's the big deal with GMO's?" Like me, maybe you thought- we've been breeding plants since the beginning of time. What's so different about it now? And perhaps you've even heard about the really good things that's come out of genetic modification, like changing crops to increase disease and pest resistance. I mean, how can you argue with a picture like this?
The centre row of potatoes has been genetically engineered to resist pest attack. The others have not.

So what is the big deal about GMO's? Well, back in 2003 when the human genome was completely mapped out, there were found to be only 23,000 genes. About the same number as mice and only twice the number of worms. What this means is that, clearly one gene doesn't control one protein or one trait. Each gene effects many many different things. So when we change the basic genes of an organism, there are going to be many ramifications that we can't possibly predict. And once it is introduced to the environment it can quickly cross pollinate with unaltered varieties.

The company behind genetically modified organisms has been known for egregious ethical actions. They seem to have no moral boundaries and their motivation behind this biology is far from altruistic. This company is Monsanto. Perhaps you are familiar with their creation: Agent Orange - a chemical used in the Vietnam war that caused numerous diseases in our soldiers. Monsanto makes and sells "RoundUp" weed control. While this may seem like a small market household product, it is actually an enormously profitable farming product. Here's the punch-line: the genetic modification is not about creating stronger crops or more robust crops or crops that produce more fruit. The goal of the modification is simply to resist RoundUp - enabling farmers to use it liberally. More importantly, the seeds are also modified so as to not allow a second generation of crops. The seeds are only good for one year. This makes farmers reliant on Monsanto for their seed supply. Farmers who have no interest in these seeds are vulnerable to seed contamination from nearby farms from wind and animal transmission.  It routinely scares or sues farmers in this situation. One Canadian farmer, Schmeiser, who was sued by Monsanto was accused him of illegally planting their crops when his field was contaminated by a nearby farm. He went bankrupt fighting Monsanto but eventually won after taking them all the way to the Supreme Court. Slowly taking over the seed market is a part of their insidious plan. They regularly buy out seed companies. Is a company like this supposed to be trusted with the best interest of our health?

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  • At 9:19 PM, Blogger Benjamin Meyer said…

    The real problem with GMO is that they sell one seed. Only one type of apple, corn or potato. Farms typically would have hundreds if not thousands of varieties so when a pest adapts and can eat one potato type the rest are not harmed, but with only one it would wipe out a lot higher percentage.

  • At 10:55 AM, Blogger Deena said…

    Excellent point. It reminds me of what happened recently in Worcester Massachusetts. The Asian Longhorned beetle was somehow transported from (obviously) Asia. It only eats certain species of trees including elms. Unfortunately, several decades ago, city planners (in Worcester as well as other cities all across America) thought it would be a good idea to plant rows of a elms along the sidewalk of many of their streets. Now entire neighborhoods are treeless. Now, more educated, at the cost of this painful learning experience, they are planting a variety of trees.


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