Readers' views for April 19, 2013
The real meaning of GMO
It's not just that Monsanto, Syngenta and other bullying, foreign profit-takers are contaminating our heirloom and regionally adapted seeds and crops. It is also their chemical mixtures of Roundup to kill everything in the soil, avoid plowing and then plant genetically altered seeds that is so destructive.
Media, business and government blame the public for being sick and "out of shape" because they are worried about how America can afford health care. It's the omnipresence of GMOs, refined white GMO beet sugar, GM corn, soy, corn syrup and processed and animal feed, plus unhealthy growing and livestock practices foisted upon the farm communities, that are causing harm.
The huge rise in obesity, diabetes, cancers and heart attacks is related to these foods, which is what the poor, the beleaguered middle class, and the unemployed are habituated to buying since its mass production makes it cheap, available and soothing, though of diminished nutritional value.
Our air and water are filled with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, killing off animals and insects, polluting streams, rivers, lakes and oceans, giving people asthma and other conditions. We are literally breaking the food chain within nature. The addictive cycle of chemical, GMO and pharmaceutical agriculture must be ended through a massive intervention followed by a period of detoxification and economic reforms.
We must undo the patents that allow megacorporations to own "intellectual property rights" of genetically modified organisms, genes and seeds and find remedies for binding contracts that force farmers to continue paying and using these products.
Don't believe the lies from chemical and ag companies that their products are safe and their objectives altruistic and that they just want "to feed the world." If that were true, billions of dollars wouldn't have been spent perfecting and owning genes, but instead used to build wells and support native and sustainable systems. Some 80 percent of the world's food is still grown in small and mid-size operations, the majority of it by women.
Free the farmers and the land from this cycle of abuse! This tired system in place since World War II is losing its efficacy. It has depleted the soils, bred pesticide-resistant pests and sprayed resistant plant diseases, and made people lazy, ill and unresponsive. In the 1950s we were told how wonderful DDT was, yet it was finally banned in America in 1972. GMO is being banned all over the world. We need to transition out of it before all our crops are unexportable and our citizens, animals and environment deteriorate further. Folks, these aren't Mendel's peas, seeds or crops anymore!
This is trans-species tampering, the ultimate arrogance, human folly and act of aggression by putting things where things simply do not belong! How it ever became legal for scientific, moral, and political reasons is highly questionable. Everyone needs to stop and reconsider this dangerous practice. In my book GMO stands for "goddess mightily offended!"
Let GMO testing run its course
I am a strong supporter for biotechnology, but also believe that your lead editorial of the April 5 edition -- "Zealots froth over biotechnology" -- is guilty of the same disrespect for science that this editorial blames on opponents of GMO crops.
In your eagerness to support biotechnology, you fail to recognize the fundamental truth that the "science" required to make conclusive "science based decisions" for biotechnology and GMO crops has barely begun. Given the scope of how broadly biotechnology can alter the food we grow and eat, and the environment in which our food is grown, it will take decades to complete all of the science needed to comprehend the full impacts of this technology in our environment and food chain, and to make sound science-based decisions regarding implementation. Yes, some research has been done, but most of this science is industry funded, narrowly focused and inherently subject to bias.
We would be wise to consider the case of DDT, one of the first and most powerful insecticides. When introduced in the 1940s, DDT produced miracle-like solutions for a host of insect related problems, and usage became common around the world.
Only 20 years later did the first signs of trouble appear. By 1972, public opinion had become so negative that all use of DDT was banned in the USA. Had 10 to 15 years been spent testing DDT before It became widely used, we might have both avoided this poisoning of our environment, and still have DDT available to fight the most virulent of pests in a well controlled and scientifically safe manner.
Biotechnology holds an even greater potential to create miracles for our modern world, but without thorough, long-term testing, how can we be certain there is not also great threats to the safety of our personal health and environment. Given the headlong rush by American agriculture to profit by the rapid implementation of GMO crops and other biotechnology, I feel it is probable that some mistake will be made somewhere which will generate widespread fear and a public backlash. Just like DDT, I fear that such a "mistake" will result in all biotechnology research and use of GMO crops being permanently banned. If this happen, the zealots who penned this editorial will share the blame for this incredible loss to mankind.
Biotechnology can be an incredible gift to mankind -- if we carefully study the whole impacts of such technologies, and make certain these technologies are carefully implemented. We need to use our best science to make biotechnology work right the first time. I pray that this process will be driven by wise and calm minds, and not by those zealots who always fear change, or by those zealots who rush to profit by new technologies without concern for the consequences of their actions to all of mankind.