As SciBlogs resident cowgirl/GMO-shill, I feel an obligation to post a response to a few posts up at ‘Whats New In Life Science Research’ (Jan 8 through today). I dont want to start a blag-fight, I just want to correct some of their errors and start a conversation (LOL! BLAG FIGHT! BLAG FIGHT!) because I dont think they are anti-GMO green anarchists. I think they are GMO-phobic, and education fixes phobias 🙂
Several authors made it clear they would like it if all GMO foods were labeled ‘GMO’. I think that is silly. I can tell you what foods in your local grocery store are GMO: Basically all of them. And I think thats a good thing.
So I grew up in farm country, surrounded by soybeans and corn. I was in 4H. All my friends were in FFA in high school. We all have separate freezers in the garage for ‘the steer’ or ‘the hog’. heh. I went to college in a farm town, surrounded by soybeans and corn. My student research in college was on corn. Got my first job in a city (surrounded by farms, growing soybeans and corn). And now Im here in Oklahoma, home of creepy, creepy, midget corn.
My hometown friends parents were farmers. ‘Small family farmers’ that anti-GMO people speak so fondly of. Yeah, they all grew (and we all ate) Monsanto/DEKALB/Agrow/Pioneer/whatever crops. One bit of confusion to get out of the way is the difference between ‘hybrid’ seeds and ‘GMO’ seeds, both available from Evil Corporations. Hybrid corn is the kind you have to buy from Monsanto et al every year. Their seeds are
sterile not handy for replanting, but you get a shitload more corn, its more drought resistant, etc. Farmers have been doing this since 1908 (oooooh those profiteering turn-of-the-century bastards!).
GMO corn (which is also sometimes hybrid corn) you dont have to buy every year, but you do have to pay a licensing fee of some kind if you save seeds, or buy seeds every year. You cant save seeds and sell them to your neighbors, any more than you can buy MacOS X and sell bootleg copies to your neighbors. There have been some stumbling blocks on figuring out how to make this fair for farmers/companies/governments, but thats to be expected.
Here is where things get funny. One major GMO crop concern is that they will spread to neighboring non-GMO fields and we will lose all genetic diversity (remember, not all GMOs are hybrids). So Monsanto figured theyd put a ‘terminator’ gene in their GMOs. This GMO pollen wont yield viable crops. YAY! No GMO spread!
No, they got bitched out for trying to make poor farmers buy seeds every year. Like you have to do with hybrids. Which poor farmers have been dealing with since 1908. Even though they always have the option of growing open pollenated seeds.
Whatever. So the posts at WNILSR are also scared of negative health consequences of GMOs. *shrug* Show me one that hurts people. You cant eat Bt corn fast enough for Bt to hurt you.
Theyre also scared Bt is going to threated biodiversity. Well, Bt corn doesnt hurt Monarch butterflies. Nor is Bt corn causing the disappearance of honey bees. Of course it could effect other insects, but youll have to give me a good reason why keeping Bt contained in plants is worse than putting it on plants (organic approved method of pest control).
As far as the intended target of Bt corn, thats the European Corn Borer, which causes about a billion dollars worth of lost food every year. European Corn Borer isnt a cute little speckled buggie-boo that needs protecting in the name of biodiversity. Its an invasive species in the US. It doesnt need ‘protecting’ any more than zebra mussels need ‘protecting’.
Janet has all sorts of good reasons for being wary of GMOs.
I buy my dairy products in a store where all the dairy products are produced without rBST, and I fully believe the prominent labeling on all these products that there is absolutely no demonstrable difference for human health between these and dairy products produced with rBST. But, as I’ve noted before, my purchasing decisions are not one dimensional. I avoid the rBST dairy because I don’t want to support a crazy system where dairy farmers feel they have to use it to produce enough milk to pay the bills … but there’s so much milk produced that a significant amount of it expires on the shelves or otherwise goes to waste. Producing less and selling it for what it’s worth might be more humane for the small producer.
And this is where I get a little irate about people who want to limit the information available to the consumer “for the consumer’s own good”. Those silly consumers don’t realize that milk is milk! Those silly consumers have been tricked into thinking GMOs are “Frankenfoods”!
Those consumers, my friends, make their own choices for all sorts of good reasons. If you aren’t OK with that, maybe selling things to them is not a good career choice.
Janet is a vegetarian.
The cheese Janet buys might not have rBST, but it is either:
Thats because milk doesnt just turn into cheese if you stare at it. You have to add the right enzymes. These enzymes come from:
- Calf stomachs. Not cow, calf. The guts of baby cows.
- GMO yeast/bacteria.
So Janet would rather have Kraft cheddar labeled “GMO!!1!1!”, so people are educated about whats in the food they are buying, so they can choose ‘organic, GMO-free’ cheddar instead? With ‘enzymes’ listed in the ingredients, instead of “BABY COW GUTS”? Of course not. Janet doesnt want non-GMO cheese. I dont want non-GMO cheese. I like the fact most cheese you buy in the grocery store contains no baby calf guts.
To steal a line from my GMO-shill brother, The Factician, it makes as much sense to be against ‘GMOs’ as it does to be against ‘chemicals’. Some chemicals bad? Sure! But some chemicals are good. You have to judge each one individually.
There are a lot of damn good GMO foods out there. Golden rice keeps kids from going blind. Rice that produces lactoferrin and lysozyme keeps babies with severe diarrhea alive. Rice that can utilize Fe3+ opens up swaths of shitty dirt for farming. We are working on GMO rice that contains a cholera vaccine. Hell, just plain ol ‘GMO’ corn and soybeans can keep starving people alive… if they dont reject the seeds because of European anti-GMO fear mongering. And some poor farmers even get financial (and ecologically beneficial) gain from GMO crops. GMO papaya revived the papaya industry in Hawaii after their crops were slaughtered by Papaya Ringspot Virus. I could go on.