Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Frankenfoods, and the villagers with pitcforks!

I love facebook. It is such a nice platform for people to espouse their views, and to call others to arms for their cause.

Take for instance the following wall post:

Call your Rep and Senators and ask them to support the ban on GMO alfalfa.


What? "Why would I do this?" I ask myself, and I reply as such.

Right away comes the reply:

"Click the link and read why.
...and in general GMOs are not what they're cracked up to be. They do more harm than good."
Ok, that is an opinion, but I see no supporting evidence of the claim that GMO do more harm than good, much less a reason why I should support a ban on GMO alfalfa. Therefore I click the link and came to the following conclusion, which I posted to the wall post thread:

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Sounds like the multi-billion $ organic food industry does not want cross contamination of their GMO foods (selective breeding over 10000 years of agriculture is in fact a form of GMO) with direct DNA manipulated crops.

The organic industry could lose billions because they could not claim the label "organic" for the contaminated crops, or the milk from cows fed the crops.

This would be bad for the organic industry, the people they employ, the farmers they support, and the stock holders.... See More
Jobs could be lost, farms could go under (or adapt), and vendors could lose money.

However, there is no credible evidence, empirical or scientific that shows such a modern GMO crop would have detrimental effects on the health of humans. There is little evidence that they "do more harm than good", especially when "harm" and "good" have not been defined in this context.

For instance, I would say it is "good" to be able to more economically feed a larger number of humans.
However, too many humans is an issue we face, which can damage the environment. The mere fact of being able to feed more with less is a good and bad thing, depending on what one views as good or bad, and they are not mutually exclusive.

I would urge people to consider the issue carefully before they sign a petition... any petition. The decision needs to be based on careful consideration of all facts available, and all issues, be they political, economic or scientific (not counting moral) rather than on fear based PR.
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I am loath to continue the discussion on facebook, because in the past I have lost the battle with people with these sort of viewpoint. In the past I was vilified and thought to be a "hater of nature" or some such crap.
The other side made no attempt at learning, or critical thinking, and would simply dig in and entrench in their worldview, with friends coming to aid and vilified me further. Do I want a repeat?
Oh well... I tried.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I wrote about this in BusinessWeek when the big debate around GMO foods was in full swing and I would want to point out that it's not so much about the organic food industry (or all the greenwashing agricultural empires that claim to grow organic food), but about people's fear.

    They have no idea how GMO foods are made or how the whole process works. They just know it's not something that readily happens in nature and it terrifies them. A representative from Friends of the Earth, an anti-GMO group, responded to my description of the perfectly well understood process of inserting genes into another organism thusly: "Sure, mutations happen all the time, but when you start putting a gene from a fish into wheat, you're just asking for trouble."

    How? No idea. She didn't have one either. Hence her fear.

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