In the September 6 issue of Scientific American, the magazine’s editors pen a piece explicitly supporting GMOs and opposing GMO labeling. I applaud the editors for taking an official position on a topic that still sparks intense debate. Both the wording and content of the editorial reflect an adherence to what is called “good scientific practice”; trusting the scientific evidence as far as it takes us, leaving room for uncertainty and making a judgement call based on imperfect but still sound evidence.
The editors start by reminding us that we have been consuming genetically modified foods for 20 years without much trouble, a point worth belaboring only because it keeps getting conveniently ignored in many debates on the topic.
We have been tinkering with our food’s DNA since the dawn of agriculture. By selectively breeding plants and animals with the most desirable traits, our predecessors transformed organisms’ genomes, turning a scraggly grass into plump-kerneled corn, for example. For the past 20 years Americans have been eating plants in which scientists have used modern tools to insert a gene here or tweak a gene there, helping the crops tolerate drought and resist herbicides. Around 70 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain genetically modified ingredients.
First of all, good... finally... because anti-GMO is anti-science, ignorant, frankly stupid in fact... And objectively supporting the mass starvation of the poor, particularly those in underdeveloped nations.
Norman Borlaug fed India, through the scientific development of high yield, rain tolerant, dwarf wheat. He then fed south America.... Frankly, if scientific literacy were higher on this planet, there is no way he would not be universally recognized as one of the greatest heroes in the history of humanity. He certainly saved more lives than anyone else... possibly more than all other "heros" combined.
Of course, if you are anti-GMO, he's the villain of the piece... or he would be, in the unlikely event you had any idea who he was (he's very unpopular among malthusians and human extinctionists as well).
Really, there is no disputing, if you're against GMO's you are objectively pro starvation of the poor.
Now... thinking that ADM and Monsanto are evil is another story... they very definitely are.
Now, for those of you who think "Oh I eat all organic certified GMO free"... actually you don't. Even if you actually did (and you don't, because you won't give up all the products which aren't), you actually wouldn't be.
Unless you grow all your own food, from preserved viable and stable seeds which have not been selectively bred for specific characteristics... and you don't, because it's not possible... you are currently, and have been for your entire life... eating genetically modified foods.
I'm not even going to get into the stupidity of "organic" vs. everything else, except to say "organic" doesn't really mean anything, and it certainly doesn't mean "better". Oh and to point you to the Penn & Teller "Bullshit" episode on "organic" food.
But lets get a little more specific. This of course is just one of many examples, but it's the most basic one.
Without genetically modified seed, there would be NO commercially grown wheat in the industrialized world. Damp blight and root rust would have killed it all.
Or for that matter Bananas. None. Also killed by fungi.
Oh sure, you can buy those "certified GMO free" products, but if you actually believe they are... I've got this great derivative investment I'd like to sell you.
"Certified organic" doesn't really mean a damn thing. Neither does "certified gmo free". It's a joke. It's a scam.
If you have ever eaten any wheat product in the last 30 years, you have eaten a genetically modified organism. If you have EVER eaten a banana, you've eaten a genetically modified organism.
Just because a seed line existed before they came up with the name GMO doesn't mean it wasn't genetically modified, or "lab created". But they grandfathered all the pre gene patent seed lines in to their arbitrary GMO definitions for "certification".
Deliberate genetic modification goes back to frikken Gregor Mendel.
As my friend Jon from Louisiana wrote today :
"Just so we're clear, everything you eat has been genetically modified, whether by selective breeding, tetrogenic chemical or radiation induced mutation, shooting DNA-coated gold pellets into woody plants with a shotgun (No, seriously, that really was a thing.), or someone in a lab splicing genes. It's just that with the lab thing, they know exactly what traits they're going for, and have fewer unexpected side effects."He forgot seed grafting, bud grafting, rootstock grafting, stem grafting etc (there are more than a dozen ways to graft)... but yeah... that.
If you want to eat bread that doesn't include any GMO at all, of any kind, it will have to be millett bread, because there is NO commercially grown non-gmo wheat. It doesn't matter what the grower says, there ISN'T any non GMO wheat, because all the non GMO wheat seedlines are either extinct or not commercially available; and if they were, they wouldn't produce enough crop to be commercially viable, and except under perfect conditions, probably wouldn't survive to harvest and milling.
But it doesn't matter... no-one grows wheat from seed that isn't genetically modified, because there ISN'T ANY COMMERCIAL SEED THAT ISN'T GENETICALLY MODIFIED. It's just that they developed the seedlines 30-50 years ago, before the gene grafting patents, so they don't have to LABEL them genetically modified. They're still "created in a lab".
The only non-GMO wheat left in the world is in certain remote areas of central asia, south america, and africa... and at this point, it has likely cross fertilized with airborne GMO strains to the point that it includes some of their gene lines.
Even then, it's still genetically modified through hundreds of generations of selective breeding... just the slow way.
Oh and of course, that's not to say there aren't issues with the way GMO's are currently being manufactured, distributed etc... Particularly there are some flat out despicable issues around the Intellectual Property regimes involved. As I said above, Monsanto et al... really genuine examples of corporate evil.
Even without that, there are other major issues; not in the existence of GMO's, but in how they are managed as crops.
The creation of disease vulnerable monocultures is a HUGE problem. In certain vulnerable populations, or for certain specific crops (u.s. dent corn production for example), a single pestilence could mean mass starvation, loss of staple food stuffs, lots of very bad things.
The Irish Potato famine is the canonical historical example of monoculture failure.
Just a small modern example. All eating bananas in the world... all of them... are a single genetic strain, the Cavendish. The Cavendish banana is a worldwide genetic monoculture, because all other genetic lines of bananas that are both commercially viable, and edible, were killed off by a fungus in the early to mid 20th century.
Unfortunately, the Cavendish is vulnerable to a mutated banana fungus strain that is now attacking crops in parts of the southern hemisphere. If that fungus spreads, then no more bananas. At all. Anywhere.
That's the problem with genetic monocultures.
let's not even get into the anticompetitive practices of the GMO seed producers. Or the massive issues of non-viable seed production.
Again... politically, financially, commercially... yeah there are major issues around GMOs.
But the whole "frankenfood" thing? Total anti-scientific bunk. Culturally enforced, politicophilosophical ignorance... Nothing more than pure Lysenkoism.
If you are against GMOs, you are pro starvation. You are supporting genocide. Plain and simple.