The Chicken Littles peddling global warming are understandable; so are the neo-Malthusians opposed to oil, coal and most useful energy but wind and sunlight. We can see where they’re coming from; they just happen to be missing a few neurons in the reality department or in some cases, have a financial interest at play. But the folks screaming against genetically modified foods? Unless they’re only the Organic Grocers of America, it’s hard to get their shtick. I’m certainly missing something here!
GM Foods reports a current hoo-haw in the Iron Pyrites State over the so-called Frankenfoods; this one is apparently going to the voters. Some countries ban U.S. corn because it’s genetically modified, though most of the world’s farmers are planting it as fast as they can rather than have to compete against it. And if it’s killed folks or made a lot of kids sick or upset livestock somewhere, it’s hard to find the stories.
The corn has been undergoing genetic modification for a long time, thousands of years, in fact. Looking at teocinte, the claimed starting point of our corn, is like seeing your ancestor in a marmoset. Our actual ancestors have been genetically modifying corn, not only for a very long time but also with great enthusiasm. And corn being one of the world’s great staples, humanity has benefitted. The same story applies with rice, wheat and most other human foods, including the meat we eat. So, the opposition to GM foods must not really be opposition to GM itself. Without genetic modification of our foods, most of us wouldn’t be here now.
Since one has to guess, let’s suppose that it’s the method now available that’s raising the fuss in California’s upcoming election. Instead of long, slow cross-breeding plants and farm animals, our genetic engineers can play put-and-take with the genomes of their subjects, getting things done quickly, thing that may have taken hundreds or even, thousands of years in the past. Add to that, they can combine genes from different species, a shocking thought to most of us.
The old Malthusians tried to limit human reproduction to avoid outgrowing human food production. The ‘green revolution’ in agriculture made their prescription unnecessary; GM work is underlining that fact. And if anyone anywhere is being harmed by consuming ‘Frankenfood,’ it’s being kept awfully quiet.
About all that comes to mind here is, noting that the anti-GM folks are part of the smaller cars, smaller, higher density homes, less energy (and less employment) crowd, it’s just part of the: ‘Shrink the Human Footprint on Gaia’ thing that’s so popular with a lot of unthinking bandwagon-hoppers. But I don’t know; as said, maybe I’m missing something…
I note clearly though, the veggies at the markets not only now come from all over the globe but they’re bigger, prettier, in way more variety and proportionately, cheaper than those I saw accompanying my mother as a kid. Oh, and now often seedless, too. And if my reading is correct, they’re about to put the old-fashioned taste back into tomatoes. Well, except maybe not in California…