[Market-farming] GMO crops (was new potatoes)

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Mon Jun 8 13:17:43 EDT 2009

On Jun 8, 2009, at 8:45 AM, Franklin W. Davis wrote:

>   Good morning...what are GMO crops...

Genetically modified organisms. Genes not natural to the crop have been 
artificially inserted into the seed; once in there, they will generally 
be passed to the next generation, if the seed is viable.

> and why are they bad news? Franklin 

A proper answer to this would take quite a long time and I'm too busy 
to do it right now -- if nobody else fields it I'll try to get back to 
it. (I should note that there are probably some on this list who don't 
think they are bad news.)

For a fast and dirty answer: the inserted genes may have additional 
effects not intended and not well understood, whether in the human diet 
or in the environment as a whole. Also, in many cases, the companies 
doing this are inserting things that may themselves be problematic, 
and/or that imply characteristics on the part of the company that many 
people don't like. One common GMO crop, for instance, is modified to 
express the pesticide BT toxin in every cell of the plant continuously; 
another common GMO technique is to insert herbicide resistance, which 
is likely to increase the use of herbicides in the short run and is 
also very likely to cause that gene to pass into weeds now controllable 
by the herbicide in the long run. Monsanto also wanted to genetically 
modify seed to make it sterile in the next generation -- the Terminator 
gene -- so farmers would be forced to buy seed every year; they pulled 
back on this one because there was such an outcry. If this gene were to 
transfer itself to other crops being grown in the area, there could be 
widespread disaster, for the farmers and the genetic base. GMO traits 
seem to transfer fairly easily, at least from wind-pollinated crops.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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