Thread: GMO foods.
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Old October 6 2012, 11:17 PM   #29
Locutus of Bored
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Re: GMO foods.

You'll notice that it's always privileged children of the West who have the luxury of driving between a dozen stores and farmer's markets and who have never felt true hunger; the kind where you don't know if your next decent meal is weeks or months away or perhaps never coming, who are always the most paranoid and outspoken in their crusade to ban genetically modified livestock and crops. People in the developing world where famine and malnutrition is a either a very real possibility or an existing problem aren't interested in your arrogant social engineering inspired by some conspiracy website or celebrity activist without a science background.

None of this is a result of any actual concern for people's health, it's just an extension of your existing distrust of all things government or authority figure related. You don't like politicians or scientists or experts in the field telling you what to do, so you push back against it. The only problem is, that because of kooks in the Western world stalling progress, much needed assistance doesn't get to people in the developing world who need it and as a result wars happen, people die in massive famines, mothers and their children go malnourished, and kids have to work in the fields even harder instead of getting an education which might make it possible to break that cycle.

Before the world population is predicted to level off around ten billion by the end of the century, we still have billions more people who will be born into a world with ever decreasing arable land due to rising sea levels and climate change, desertification, and urbanization. How do you intend to feed those people without genetically modified crops that provide higher yields on less land in harsher environmental conditions? Keep chopping down rainforests for farmland and increasing the greenhouse effect as a result? Or do you just not care about them because you're provided for in a country where we have so much we waste farmland on producing ethanol instead of corn? Well, you might not even get to continue that life of privilege here if things continue to get progressively worse from this year's harvest, so be careful what you wish for. The only reason we don't have Dust Bowl conditions like during the Depression any more is because we solved the problem with the widespread application of technology in agriculture and high-yield crops. You might be singing a different tune about genetically modified crops and livestock in the near future if trouble hits your door because those techniques are no longer allowed.

Where's the science behind your claims that genetically modified organisms are on the whole inherently dangerous? Can you cite some reputable scientific journals that back you up on that? I'm not talking conspiracy sites, survivalist blogs, and books by people who aren't experts in any relevant field but are experts on making a buck off of the gullible and paranoid, I want to see peer reviewed studies by actual scientists who say all genetic experimentation on crops and livestock is wrong by its very nature.

Have you ever heard of the late Norman Borlaug (no, he's not a big fiery demon that Gandalf fought on a bridge)? The man has probably saved more human lives than any single individual on the planet; an estimated one billion over the past fifty years, and he did it mostly with genetic crossbreeding to produce disease-resistant, high-yield, semi-dwarf wheat that could survive harsher environments while using less arable land. He turned countries that faced famine into net exporters of wheat within a year, and received the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, National Medal of Science, and dozens of other accolades for his work as a result. There probably was no greater expert in the field of agriculture and feeding the developing world than he was, and he faced many of the criticisms you are leveling now about propping up agrobusiness like Monsanto and developing "unnatural" solutions to problems. You know what he has to say about the world food supply and GMOs?

The limited potential for land expansion for cultivation worried Borlaug, who, in March 2005, stated that, "we will have to double the world food supply by 2050." With 85% of future growth in food production having to come from lands already in use, he recommends a multidisciplinary research focus to further increase yields, mainly through increased crop immunity to large-scale diseases, such as the rust fungus, which affects all cereals but rice. His dream was to "transfer rice immunity to cereals such as wheat, maize, sorghum and barley, and transfer bread-wheat proteins (gliadin and glutenin) to other cereals, especially rice and maize".

Borlaug believed that genetic manipulation of organisms (GMO) was the only way to increase food production as the world runs out of unused arable land. GMOs were not inherently dangerous "because we've been genetically modifying plants and animals for a long time. Long before we called it science, people were selecting the best breeds."

According to Borlaug, "Africa, the former Soviet republics, and the cerrado are the last frontiers. After they are in use, the world will have no additional sizable blocks of arable land left to put into production, unless you are willing to level whole forests, which you should not do. So, future food-production increases will have to come from higher yields. And though I have no doubt yields will keep going up, whether they can go up enough to feed the population monster is another matter. Unless progress with agricultural yields remains very strong, the next century will experience sheer human misery that, on a numerical scale, will exceed the worst of everything that has come before".
But I'm sure you know more than him, right? And before you attempt to discredit him as a selfish pawn of agrobusiness, bear in mind that he didn't use his knowledge to become super-rich and world famous, because despite his accolades from those in the know, he's relatively unknown to most of the world. The man selflessly spent his whole life trying to help those in need and arguably did so more than any other human being in history. I think his words should carry considerable weight as a result.

I'm fine with preaching caution and regulation, because scientific research like anything else can be abused or misused, especially by corporations seeking profit above all else. I'm fine with demanding labeling, since people have the right to know what they're eating and how it's made. I'm fine with non-GMO alternatives remaining available to privileged hipsters and paranoid nutters who think fluoridated water is a government plot to brainwash the populace and vaccination is the devil's handiwork. What I am not fine with however, is those same children of privilege and crazies imposing their backwards-thinking fringe beliefs on everyone else and getting people sick and killed as a result.
'First Contact' is the tale of a man who just wants to cash in on his creation so he can get wasted on an island full of naked women, but his fans keep insisting that he's a saintly visionary who has profoundly altered the world. AKA - 'I Don't Want to be a Statue: The Gene Roddenberry Story.'
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