Posts Tagged ‘farming’

I’ve been getting tons of anti-GMO posts thru my Facebook feed and I just want to provide a blanket response so I don’t have to deal with this much longer.

Any hybridization encouraged by man, by definition, is a Genetically Modified Organism. People crossbreed things and choose desirable traits and cull out the bad ones(they hope.) Out the other end comes donut peaches & Labradoodles. Also comes cats with 5 legs & bulldogs who have to give birth by C-section because the pups have Oprah sized skulls. To call it scattershot is an insult to shotguns.

What the scaremongers would like to define GMO as(and I don’t have a problem with it as long as we have internationally defined terms for trade purposes) is that someone plucks a specific gene from one plant(or animal) into a different type of plant(or animal,) like that goat that produces spider silk in its milk. That would be more akin to transgenics.

Do I want transgenic plants/animals? It depends. Glow in the dark fish/cats? Awesome. If I could get glow in the dark corn on the cob every once in a while that tasted like roadstand silver corn, sure. Is it corn on the cob that poisons ants/aphids/butterflies? No. Do I want giant sunflowers cross bred with Venus fly traps to eat small animals & children who try and get on my property? With a few exceptions, no. Little cats that look like tigers? Straight gene manipulation would probably be more humane than the “natural” crossbreeding that goes on currently.

Genetic modification is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. The questions are this:
1: Are there protocols in place to prevent bad things happening?
2: What are they and are they adequate
3: is the information freely available for others to look at?
4: How does this benefit society?

Do I want agri-pharma supplying monocultures? No, they are potentially harmful to food security.

Do I want them restraining trade? No. Patents on items that come from nature is an affront to society. If farmers want sterile seed stock, more power to them if the benefits outweigh the costs; but it’s usually a false economy.

I screw around with citrus. Every once in a blue moon’s blue moon, you get a happy accident like a Mineola. To get that happy accident they had to cross pollinate varieties, plant them, let the grow until they set fruit and look at the results. It is painstakingly laborious and time consuming, with tens of thousands of dead ends. If you could decode the citrus genome, then make educated guesses which genes you wanted to tamper with to get a lime the size of a grapefruit so you could make Key Lime Pies that much cheaper(yet keep the rest of the genome intact,) isn’t that acceptable, desirable(even if you don’t love Key Lime Pie, which in any case you’re dead to me) and reasonable? I’m not talking about limes the size of grapefruits that have wings and fly to my basket when ripe like salmon returning home to spawn.

It’s not a binary question to GMO; it’s costs/benefits, it’s honest talk based on science and not on emotion. I’d say that a rational group of people could suss it out in a day, but I think rational people are hard to come by these days.


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