[NAFEX] seed market control- some more thoughts
chandos49 at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 14 20:50:59 EDT 2010
"How long...? indeed.
I just read Pollan's The Botany of Desire and, altho hardly sympathetic with some of his presuppositions, read with dismay the observations he included by those studying GM products that the inserted gene(s) show unexpected potential for attaching themselves (to put it crudely) to closely related species of the product via cross-pollination. The further result...?
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2010 15:58:23 -0700
From: cjustinwest at gmail.com
To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [NAFEX] seed market control- some more thoughts
“Risk assessment and cost/benefit analysis really do have a place.”
I would be interested in knowing how one can properly do a risk assessment on a genetically modified organism? How long does the risk assessment process take? A month, a year, a hundred years? How can we even assess the risks if we don’t have any idea what the risks might end up being? That kind of thinking can put us on shaky ground in a hurry.
“Would you rather plant a crop that has a gene coding for a bacterial toxin
targeted to impact one specific pest, or have the farmer spraying thousands
of acres with a pesticide that kills 'beneficial' insects as well as the
targeted 'problem' organism?”
This statement makes it sound like gmo’s don’t need spraying. This is very misleading to someone who is just trying to understand the issues. Many gmo’s are specifically designed to utilize spraying, ‘Round-up ready’ corn being perhaps the most famous example. – from ‘tin hats’ to wool blinders.
Incidentally studies are showing ‘round up resistant’ weeds are already beginning to become problems in many areas where it is over used. Round up is not quite the magic bullet the marketers would like us to believe. Perhaps glyphosate is not as toxic as some enflamed accusations have made it out to be. But it certainly is demonstrating detrimental knock on effects that no one could quite predict from the outset. Must have been a faulty risk assessment.
“The genetically-modified 'Golden Rice', with increased amounts of
beta-carotene(precursor to Vitamin A) in its endosperm, has the potential to
significantly improve the health of children and stave off blindness in
underdeveloped countries where rice is a dietary staple, yet some anti-GMO
groups oppose its cultivation as "part of a package of globalised
agriculture which is creating malnutrition". They're 'agin' it, 'cause it's
GMO, regardless of the potential benefits.”
I have been to IRRI the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. I have been in the cold storage where over 60,000 varieties of rice have been banked. And I have talked with the director regarding their work to create this holy grail ‘golden rice’ full of all kinds of goodies. The bottom line for me is this: who stands to benefit in the long run if those 60,000 varieties of rice are replaced with the one super rice? Do the billions of rice eating and rice growing people around the world stand to benefit? Does the company that holds the patent on it? Who would like to see the many thousands of apple varieties replaced with just one? Who thinks one variety of apple will grow perfectly well on its own without a whole host of chemical and physical inputs in the entire range of the world where apples grow?
The question is not about whether or not gmo’s are good or bad, but rather about what direction we go down on the road of genetic appropriation and manipulation by companies who are, by necessity and through no inherent fault of their own per se, profit driven? Perhaps there is a place for some forms of genetic modification, but in this country there simply is not sufficient oversight to insure it is done safely and in a way which supports diversity and health not homogenization and monoculturalization. Can genetic modification improve ecological and agricultural diversity? That to me would be a far more interesting question.
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