Friday, November 20

The GMO Debate - Your point of view?


Ok, so that was a good debate in class! But clearly we didn't have the proper amount of time to discuss it all as we should together, which is a shame the GM food issue is so critical.

So: I want us to continue the conversation over the next two weeks on our blog! How would you address the resolution yourself personally?

I am asking everyone to post their personal reflection on the issue here. In the comment line of this post.

You can come down one side or another, but you can also be undecided or less black and white. Wither way, please say what you are thinking and WHY. What arguments and rationales in the debate do you find most or less compelling? If you are Pro or Anti, what concerns on the other side might be legitimate (but in the end may be of low priority to you or perhaps fixable?)

Or, perhaps the resolution itself is poorly formulated and leads us to oversimplifying conclusions? What is a better way to think about the issue? What questions still remain that need to be answered?

Write to out here thoughtfully and drawing from all the various forms of arguments and evidence we've come across (I'd say a minimum of 150 words). Please sign your name too so we know who's thoughts we are reading!

As a consumer, voter, and cultural producer it is important to have a point of view on GM as it is likely to only between a larger issues in the years to come in our daily lives and globally....


Resolution:
The risks of GM foods outweigh the purported benefits and should not be allowed to be sold and planted.

Meanwhile, feel free to continue posting to blog items of relevant and interest!


AY

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Over the last few weeks we've listened to many strong points concerning GMO R&D. Some points needed to be addressed, such as over population, environmental impacts, intellectual property rights, sustainability, etc...For me, the crux of this debate is not should we produce GMOs but which GMOs to produce. Morality aside, GMOs can have an amazing place in agriculture. Possibly the key to solving many of the critical issues we face is the ability to have better control and sway the outcome. Monsanto is irreversibly changing the public's image of GMOs due to their irresponsible attempt to spring board off the Green Revolution and make a quick buck at the expense of logical progress. Cotton, rubber, hemp, any textile or industrial material using agricultural products could be the easiest way to test repercussions before trying to change the direct food supply. Controlled environments and independent oversight might aid in a more positive public image also. For struggling farmers and over population, I don't see a 'quick fix' working. Proper legislation, improved infrastructure, and practical levels of public education, over time, will be the only way of changing the direction some countries are headed. How that happens...IDK?
Thanks,
-Anthony

Ben said...

This is the kind of topic that leaves unable to make a decision. i see the tremendous benefits of GMO's, but i dont think capitalist societies can handle the power. i am very suspicious of company's such as Monsanto who switched from chemical production to food production. they did not do it for charitable reasons, but because they saw profit there. it would seem that you cant 'buy' these GMO's , you can only lease them. you are what you eat, and if you dont own your food...

Ben

Will Capellaro said...

This a REALLY tough issue to argue for or against: our debate may not have made any headway one way or another, and I think the debate globally is similar: someone can make an argument, someone in the world can say that is not the case in their neck of the woods.

I think a large amount of the difficulty of the debate is that there are some fundamental presupposition, and that is:

Poverty, hunger, malnutrition and ultimately death by starvation are to avoided.

Why anyone would think otherwise may be a morbid question, but the reality is that this type of thinking might be a greater threat than simply "letting nature take its course". It becomes easier and easier to interfere with nature to increase supply, but we aren't so good at interfering with humans to reduce demand. We are comfortable shipping off food or developing GM sweet potatoes, but we can't really fathom how to slow the population growth.

That we can plan sustain an increase in the global population means that we're taking for granted all the technologies and policies we've got in place now--many of which are ecological compromises. At best, they are questionable and people are still starving; yet one should argue that these policies and technologies should be scaled back.

Nobody wants to talk about that option.

It would require talking in general about what are actually billions of situations which result in additional mouths to feed.

Some reasons why children are hot button issues, specific to a place or a people--institutional rape as a counterpart to genocide, longstanding cultural traditions, a woman's boredom, desperate looniness, or need for status, or as children have been viewed the need for additional family labor (in particular on farms).

This last is particularly hard to reckon with because farming worldwide has been turned upside down. GM crops, fertilizers, and pesticides are all terrible things, and terribly useful. They give an economic advantage to certain farmers and nations who use them, while destroying others.

But there may be harmless GM crops, or crops whose benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks. The GM sweet potato's we saw in the video may be a great thing (time will tell). But a government handout of GM corn is no better or worse theoretically. Perhaps the potato is better, the

Banning GM crops could have a leveling effect on globalism, but it might be beside the point.

Another debate would be to ban food transport.
Or a moratorium on monoculture farming.

But the real question is what to do with all the humans we are trying to support? How can those who believe the world to be a garden that should be nurtured, really have a conversation with an industrial farmer or scientist who believes the Earth as a resource to be exploited. And can the discussion bring to the table the indigenous grower who probably has forgotten more than the other two have ever learned about food and preventing overpopulation.

christina said...

My main difficulty with the entire argument of GMO's comes down to one point- Lack of factual information. Not that there isn't a lot of info readily available on both sides of the argument, but the lack of facts from an unbiased non-emotional, profit-motivated, neutral party. The companies producing GMO's are trying to protect their investment, which I understand (to a point), but I think they are also hoping to use the absence of facts as proof of safety. Most people have no idea they're eating GMO's, and IF they get sick, they have no cause to consider the GMO's as the cause. So the lack of people claiming they get sick from eating GMO's does not prove safety. There has to be more (hate to use the word,but...) transparency. I think its important for the companies creating the GMO product to prove it WON'T cause any type of illness, and to do this in an open way, instead of behind closed doors.
I think the potential for GMO's to help underdeveloped nations to feed their population is a benefit, but only to a certain degree. It is not a magic solution to ending famine. Will it help? yes. Will other things help? like assistance in food distribution? building wells and helping farmers catch and utilize rainwater for their farms? Yes. Helping poor nations end famine should be a broad effort, not a pointed, scientific one.
Too often large corporations target poor nations to be their guinea pigs and I find it to be completely unethical. Impoverished nations are not to be used as canaries for the wealthy nations.
Christina.

christopher said...

I believe manipulating genetic material is a philosophically complex issue, one that is being dealt with in a horrifyingly materialistic and simplistic manner by corporations that support their own fiscal growth as a prime motivator. the fact that companies like monsanto attempt to "prove" their moral interest in humanity by projects like the one they conducted in africa is disgusting.
The worst evil is that which disguises itself as good.

Let's say that genetic modification were taking place of organisms in an ideal state, so we are going to assume it is not unethical by nature, in that state I believe that it would be conducted by a group that would represent the highest aspirations of humanity- not a desire to increase profits.

One thing that I think is important is the direction of thinking in a situation like monsanto: to me it smells a lot like the petrolium plastics revolution. there is a history of scientific discoveries that are truely novel, not terribly understood, then FORCED to be somehow MARKETABLE. we need these basic desires to stop existing. we don't have the resources or the need to support these kinds of motivations. research and development needs to be controlled by an intelligentsia not a group of merchants.

That being said, I have to admit that I have no idea how to solve the problem. how can we convince the individuals in power that they are not deserving of their positions? how can we determine who is truly capable of directing the scientific development that we stand on the brink of?

I know that this is a science class and that my discussion here is mainly ethical: but I want you to understand something that I believe with my whole heart: we are not going to solve anything unless we all develop our ethics, personally and communally. and for some reason the act of eating I think is symbolic of the type of holistic approach to thinking that I believe will be necessary to even understand the scientific discoveries we have made thus far and will make in the future.

god bless america
chris

Liberty said...

PART 1

It comes down to several key issues: sustainability, secrecy, lack of control when it comes to gene distribution, corruption, farmers rights, consumer rights, natural law and chemicals.

Sustainability: conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.

China has planted 1 million genetically engineered trees. One million trees, all over the country, and no one knows exactly where all of them are. The United States has it’s own collection of GE trees in several outdoor test plots in Michigan. These outdoor test plots raise a new problem. The pollen full of BT toxin can easily travel through the air landing on non-GMO trees and, in turn, infecting those trees as well.

There is no such thing as containment when you plant GMOs. It is impossible to control cross-pollination. How can we prevent birds, bees and the wind from spreading infected seeds all over the country? There is no such thing as coexistence either because once you introduce a dominant gene, and all GMOs are dominant genes, it will take over. In 1980 not one acre of genetically modified crops existed. In 1996 3,700,00 acres of soybean, corn, cotton and canola were spread across the United States and that became 100,000,000 acres in 2003. Organic farmers in Canada no longer have the option of growing soy and canola, and soon wheat, because all the crops have been contaminated with GMOs. Canada will never be able to produce and export organic soy, canola or wheat again.

The same thing will happen to the United States if we don’t stop planting these seeds. Some canola plants in Canada have even become super weeds because Monsanto isn’t the only company developing and planting GMOs. These super weeds require different and more toxic chemicals to kill them, because they have evolved, which leads to the dumping of more and more pesticides and herbicides onto crops.

Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.

Most of Monsanto’s GM products contain a gene called the Terminator Gene or the Suicide Gene, which they have tried to deny. This gene assures that the seeds can only germinate once before it dies. After the first planting the seed is then rendered sterile. This ensures that farmers and foreign governments who buy Monsanto’s GM seeds continue to buy because the seeds never last more than one season. How one corporation can possibly feed poor and hungry nations with suicidal plants? What is going to happen when this suicide gene contaminates conventional and organic crops?

“Politics, transportation and economics feed a hungry world,” says Percy Schmeiser, “not Monsanto. If anything is going to lead to world starvation or hunger it is going to be the introduction of genetically modified organisms.”

Monsanto is the leading supplier of genetically altered seeds in the world. They believe they are creating cutting edge biotechnology for sustainable agriculture. “We see a world in which 100% commercial seeds are GM and patented,” says a Monsanto executive. If Monsanto controls the seeds, they control the food.

Does the contamination of groundwater and forests lacking birds and beasts sound sustained to you? The toxins and chemicals that go along with genetic modification are catastrophic. Fighting chemicals with chemicals.

Liberty said...

PART 2

Farmers.

Monsanto sent Percy Schmeiser a lawsuit in the mail declaring he had somehow managed to acquire and grow their GM canola seeds, which is a breach on their patent law. Monsanto’s Gene Police had found 80 to 90% contamination in the plants in the ditch. Monsanto took Schmiser to court. It took two years of pre-trial before a Canadian judge of the federal court ruled that, “It does not matter how Monsanto’s GMOs get into farmers fields (by cross pollenation) it all becomes Monsanto’s property and the farmer no longer own his crop. Nor is he able to use his own seeds any longer.” Farmers do not have any rights above Monsanto’s patented seeds and chemicals.

And what about control contracts? To use Monsanto seeds farmers must sigh a contract stating:

Farmers can never use your own seeds.
Farmers must always plant Monsanto seeds.
Farmers must use Monsanto chemicals.
If farmers violate the contract Monsanto fines them and they must sign another contract stating that they cannot talk to the press or their neighbor about what Monsanto has done to them.
Farmers must pay Monsanto a license fee of $15 an acre per year for the privilege of using their GMOs.
As of 2003 Farmers can no longer sue Monsanto for whatever reason.
Farmers must permit Monsanto police to come onto their land or look through their grain for three years after signing the contract, even though the seeds only last one year.
Canadian Monsanto Police – Former Royal Mounted Canadian Police now calling themselves Robinson Investigation Service.
United States Monsanto Police – Paperpin Investigation Service.

If Monsanto cannot find a farmer’s home, who they are suspicious of growing GMOs, they find his land and fly over it in small planes or helicopters and drop an herbicide Roundup spray bomb onto the crop. They come back ten to twelve days later and if the crop is dead where the bomb was dropped then they know the farmer wasn’t growing their GMOs and it’s over. But if the crops are not dead they seek out that farmer and take him to court.

Corruption and Coercion

Michael Taylor was a Monsanto attorney. He then became a high ranking official within the FDA and on the approval board for GM products. He had a lot of influence approving rGBH, Bovine Growth Hormone, for injecting into dairy cows. Monsanto makes rGBH. After Mr. Taylor approved the soybeans he left the FDA and became the VP for Monsanto. It’s all connected; the FDA and Monsanto are having a love affair.

Clarence Thomas was a Monsanto lawyer before he helped put George W. Bush into office as a Supreme Court Judge.

Anne Veneman was on the Board of Directors of Monsanto’s Calgene Campaign after she served as the United States Secretary of Agriculture. Calgene was a genetics lab and company in Davis, California, before Monsanto bought them out.

Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, was on Board of Directors of Monsanto’s Searle pharmaceuticals. Tommy Thompson, former United States Secretary of Health, received $50,000 in donations from Monsanto Corp. during his campaign as Wisconsin’s governor, which he won.

Liberty said...

PART 3

Consumer Rights.

Using GM seeds Monsanto destroys consumer rights. The company is secretive, sly and corrupt. They do not test their products efficiently. They are against correct labels, such as rBST and rBGH... when consumers have a right to know what they are purchasing and eating. What are they hiding? Why are they so secretive?

Chemicals.

Monsanto also brought us Agent Orange, the deadly pesticide used by the United States in the Viet Nam War. Children in Viet Nam are still being born without eyes because the use of Agent Orange. They also produced PCBs: polychlorinated biphenlys. PCBs are chemical mixtures made up of nearly two hundred and nine compounds. They were used as lubricants and coolants to prevent fires in heavy machinery and electrical equipment before the United States banned the use of them in 1977 due to negative health and environmental impacts.

Though they are banned, PCBs still exist. They leak from biohazard waste sights and old machinery and electrical equipment that was made more than thirty years ago. Monsanto also claimed the use of DDT was safe. Thank you, Monsanto. Now you claim GMOs are safe but how can we ever trust you?

I am aware of global food shortages and that is a problem but I do not believe that problem is best fought with GM technology and products. There must be other ways. Haven't we already figured out that distribution is a huge factor? Should we not work on that? I have not done sufficient research about distribution or other ways to end the global food shortage. Maybe I am a hopeless dreamer but I still maintain the fact that GM products do not help.

I do not support genetic modification. But even more so, I do not support Monsanto.

My sources:

Films:
Future of Food
A Silent Forest
Fast Food Nation
Food, INC
King Corn
The World According to Monsanto

Books:
Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser
Seeds of Deception – Jeffery M. Smith
Collapse – Jared Diamond
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
Tomorrow's Table - Pamela Arnold (also a blog)

http://globaljusticeecology.org/
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/
http://www.organicconsumers.org/
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/
http://www.stopgetrees.org/
http://www.thecampaign.org/
http://www.seedsofdeception.com/

http://www.monsanto.com
http://www.arborgen.com/
http://www.conagrafoods.com/

http://www.cqs.com/50harm.htm (takes you to new website)

-LH

Anonymous said...

The promises of GM food are many, and one that strikes me the most as being beneficial, is that of drought-resistant crops. Droughts are difficult to deal with. I was in Cambodia, in a village where most of the inhabitants lived on subsistence farming during a time of drought. There had been no rain for months, and the rice fields had dried up. A Cambodian friend of mine said that many people had to sell their animals (which was also a food source, chickens, pigs and cattle) to buy food in the market. It was painful, realizing one had everything while some were driven to their wits’ end.

Drought-resistant crops and adequate irrigation would have been an easy solution to their problems, right?

The root of the problem of malnourishment and hunger lies in poverty, as Jane Rissler from the Union of Concerned Scientists said. “The problem behind hungry people is about money, it is not about technology.” With money, the world does make enough food that one can buy. You see food wastage everywhere in the developed world… the markets always carry food, it just depends on whether people have enough cash to buy them. It isn’t so simple. Purses get filled for many of these societies when there is enough agricultural produce to sell.

Another issue in relation to societies in the developing world is that a large number of people live on subsistence crops- it is their way of life, a huge part of their culture. The pride of being able to feed their families makes sustainable agriculture a very important aspect of living. GM food would allow them to feed their families, but at what cost?

With the technology of GM foods, the situation does not necessarily improve. There has not been enough testing and “transparency”, as Christina said. While corn looks like corn, and food is food as the GM companies want us to believe, we have no idea what health problems our GM-food diets will result in down the road. In addition, the patents of seeds by large profit-driven GM corporations make this a difficult choice for the farmers in developing countries. If GM seeds were brought to the developing countries like Cambodia and Kenya, does this not become another way of neo-colonization, with patent issues and mounting debts to empty the purses and stomachs of the already hungry?

-Georgi

Elise said...

I wasn't sure if you had to be signed in or not to leave a comment, and when I didn't see my comment pop up after coming back, I decided to be safe than sorry. I apologize profusely if duplicates come up.
I like the idea behind GM food. The planet doesn't grow. If more can be made with less land, then why not?
The primary problem that sticks out to me, as stated above, is poor business practices in the way the seeds are sold and in providing only one kind for various lands that have different needs. That's not a problem with the technology, it's a problem with the people.
What also seems problematic is the possibility that if all plants become streamlined/identical and pests and plagues adapt to override their defenses, they could take out all of them. Naturally plants adapt the same way, but can they adapt mechanically just as proficiently?
Once that problem is solved, if it already isn't, Genetic Modification sounds like a good and powerful tool that should then be taken out of incompetent hands.
As far as health goes, research has been going on for many years. With this in mind, if I'm told there's no difference then I'll believe them. Any person still concerned should be able to then answer the question "How long is long enough?"

Anonymous said...

Well to be honest.. I think this is a much bigger issue then I have the capacity to understand and get really down to the core on right now. I understand what I have read so far between the two sides, although there is much information to be obtained before a reasonable opinion is formed.
Right off the bat after learning/ hearing about GMO's I considered them un-natural and probably a cause of all the cancer abounding in our world right now. hmmm i wonder why most of the unhealthy / cheap brands of food currently contain GMO's, not a coincidence. I mean, no wonder no one in Europe will tolerate the use of these "foreign things" in their food because their standards for quality of food are higher. This needs to be implemented somehow in the U.S. if any hope for the obesity/heart attack rate to ever go down. SO often are things released on the market which have not undergone sufficient testing.
I understand the problem of hunger in our world right now and the desperate need to find a solution for all those people who have no alternative but to turn to these new technologically advanced seeds we have come up with. But then comes the greedy, money hungry companies with it, sucking up every last penny they can from each and every source available. theres a big difference between trying to find a modern solution to a big problem and making money off the poor rural farmers. Doesn't this terminator gene just prove this point that they are purely using this to their advantage, if they have the means to develop this in the first place i'm sure they can make the damn seeds so they can regenerate themselves somehow. I cant help but think about Westernization and how the american way of life has influences in this as well.. many of these farmers want to better their way of life, be able to afford more things, maybe a tv, have a larger house, This has to contribute to this larger problem in some way. This problem of food shortages in certain parts of the world has been around for ever and now new ways around that are being found. then again, who is to say that is a bad thing? i think monsanto needs to be checked up on by some higher authorities asap.. just like mikey d's.
-carmen

michlle.m.doh said...

I used to be strongly against any kind of genetic modification. The fact that you can take DNA and alter it to your liking really disturbed me. When I first found out that genetically modified foods are a part of basically everything I ate, I was shocked. Honestly, I did feel a bit scammed because I would have never thought that big corporations would be able to lie or hide the fact that they were using GMOs and if they had outwardly said that they use GMOs, I would never consciously eat it... And yet, after some thought, I'm actually okay with it.
After years of consuming GMOs, unknowingly, and not having any health problems, it makes me believe that GMOs are actually not as bad as people claim they are. Besides, I think GMOs will help solve a lot of problems in third world countries, if it is handled the right way. It is truly a shame how the Monsanto seeds were distributed in India, however, I do not blame Monsanto, I blame the lack of government involvement in protecting their farmers.
We live in a very demanding world. At this point, I think it would be irrational to stop using GMOs but at the same time I do highly encourage organic farming. I believe we need a balance between different options we have available.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there are two broad reasons for which to be against the GMOs, first because of their potential biological influences and second because of the practices through which they are distributed.

As far as technological versus organic farming, it seems that in every way organic farming is better for people and for the environment, if it can support a population, and the problem is, that for whatever number of reasons, it alone cannot.

For this reason I see the value of GMOs, although if I had my choice I would do what I could to avoid them because of the potential repercussions of introducing foreign substances into one's body, it upsets the natural order of things. Monsanto of course claims that there is no difference between many of their GM products and normal, organic products, but this is where the second form of mistrust comes in.

We have gone over the history of Monsanto and their issues with pesticides (like DDT) and their mistakes in advertising these products as good. Although modern day GMOs may not have such drastically negative effects on health, there is a very strong association with the dishonesty of the company and their practices, and the comparisons that we thus make between the products of the green revolution and the new products that are being produced today.

The GMOs, in some cases have been potentially harmful, and in many cases not. Although there are many valid reasons to be against GMOs and their use, there are also many potential benefits, particularly as we saw for developing countries like India and Africa that are having trouble feeding their poor.

Perhaps a solution would be to develop and facilitate a responsible use of GMOs through groups unlike Monsanto, groups, be them federal or private, that do not have the income at the top of the agenda, but rather the well being of these nations at the top of their priorities. Subsistence farming just does not produce enough for many countries because of the climates and conditions and the vast populations, and that is a reality we must face in this debate. I believe that the debate around the use of GMOs is not one of right or wrong (because there are many compelling arguments that biologically we and the planet would be better off without them) but an argument around whether or not the current benefits of the use of some GMOs currently outweigh the potential downfalls.

-Raphael

tea&toast said...

Its dumb for me to take a right or left stance on the GMO debate. I think the realistic thing to do it look at all the problems and then look at our current economic system. If a private company is in charge of anything they will be looking to increase their profits any way they can.
I understand the hormone problem, the screwing over of farmers problems, the indian suicide problem, They are all legitimate, But I think just as important is how yields of all food are going to be increased to support a growing population.
The solution as I see it involves more GMO food with stronger restrictions. Stronger Restrictions and monitoring come from the government. The only way to set stronger restrictions would be to have the government sending money for development of specified GMO food instead of one general crop. The problem to me seemed not that GMO's are bad but rather GMO's are to general.
In the case of the indian farmers, a practical solution might be to have indian government help support research on this one particular area of india to grow food that is draught resistant, and uses ow pesticides. Monsanto or another companies responsibility would be to support education regarding higher yields to that specific region. With support from both ends I see a win win situation. The point as I see it needs to be limiting when big business needs limiting and growth when big business needs growth, and working with all, in making a solution that will make all sources at least moderately happy.

Ryan

bugs 4 eva said...

I see a lot of philosophical problems with GMOs. I think one of the biggest concerns for me is the lack of knowledge on the consumers end. The fact that most consumers do not understand what a GMO is troubles me. Also, I think food products not being clearly labeled with GMO or non-GMO is a problem. However, I have had an issue with American’s attitudes towards food for a while. I think there needs to be some more responsibility taken up on the consumers end to make it known to the government that we want to be informed of what we put into our bodies.
I also always feel strange when trying to formulate a concrete opinion about issues like this because there is a plethora of information to analyze. Part of the analysis needs to also include where the information we are receiving is coming from. Who’s publishing what article? Who’s paying for what research to be done?

-Olivia S.

Anonymous said...

Considering I was not a part of the debate held in class, I'm not sure exactly each area that was covered. However, I am very torn on this subject.

I can see some benefits of GMOs such as improving the quality of goods and increasing productivity, etc but I feel like the company Monsanto is giving this notion a bad name. I do feel like in some ways Monsanto is related (whether directly or indirectly could be debatable) to the deaths of Indian farmers. It might just be my sympathy for people declining into debt but I think it is important that any large corporation accepts responsibility for the consequences of their products.
Maybe we aren't ready for planting in India yet...unless Monsanto turns into a non profit organization and donates these crops to Indian farmers. In this economy, one can feel this burden.

In order for GMOs to be accepted in our markets is to have the knowledge of all of its effects, good and bad. If things were labeled as such, and consumers were aware of it, I think it would be beneficial. However, in the case of the cows being treated by Polisac, consumers believed it was a bad thing.


-Kait F.

Anonymous said...

Overall, I still feel that I have much more to learn about GMOS but as of now I do not support them- I wish all farming could be local, organic, and sustainable, but I also realize that will not feed everyone, or a least big changes are needed to move in that direction. We would need years of long-term studies to really decipher what effects GMOS could have on humans- I feel like every other day I hear of someone else being diagnosed with cancer, and how are we to know whether or not these seemingly unavoidable or simply unlucky health issues might be influenced by GMOS?
The idea of inserting foreign DNA of an entirely different species into a plant is not natural; therefore it is hard for me to believe that there are no negative consequences to consuming food so chemically altered.
The most promising potential benefits of GMOS to me are crops that could be sustained and thrive in otherwise unusable land or impossible circumstances (high salt and aluminum content, drought, lack of sufficient irrigation). However, based on what has happened to farmers in rural India who were promised miracles from their GM seeds and instead due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances ended up only severely in debt and hungry, I think it is clear that GM corporations do not necessarily care about the end result- after they have made their profits they don’t follow through to be sure that impoverished farmers are educated and instilled with all the information and tools they need to be successful with GM seeds. I would feel very differently if Monsanto required some sort of intensive hands-on seminar or workshop that involved setting up farmers to be successful, I think this would be the only ethical thing to do if a huge corporation is to intervene in an otherwise traditional farming system. What bothers me most is Monsanto’s secrecy, lack of respect for farmers (surveillance cameras, suing for cross-pollination) and the fact that they do not want consumers to be able to make EDUCATED choices- I am particularly disturbed by the milk labeling issue because if Monsanto is confident in the bovine growth hormones they manufactured, why shouldn’t they want consumers to know what is in their milk?

-Olivia Wendel

Neda said...

The benefits GM seeds can have for developing countries, where dying of hunger is an actual concern, seem hopeful. Except that, these countries don’t have the necessary funds to experiment with biotechnology and genetically modified farming. Instead all GM production falls into the hands of economically developed, capitalist nations. This creates the type of industry that’s only interested in money rather than in providing successful means of farming, and financially desperate people fall into their hands and are in dept to them whether their crops succeed or fail.
Someone said it really well in another post, that “research and development need to controlled by an intelligentsia not by a group of merchants.” GM seeds should be administered by some sort of humanitarian group whose focus is to protect and help people , rather than money seeking corporations like Monsanto. I think that if this were to happen GM seeds would only need to be issued in countries where harvesting is more difficult and not places like here where there’s over production of food.
As far as the health concerns over GM food, maybe there should be a higher standard of safety evaluations, but at the same time all agriculture poses a potential risk, whether its been organically grown, treated with pesticides or genetically modified. However, whatever health concerns GM foods might pose, it doesn’t seem to justify environmental groups like Greenpeace ruining farmer’s crops, setting buildings on fire and throwing grains at parliament. I think its sad that farmers like the one in Iriquito, Mexico who found a way to genetically modify corn to be resistant to the acidity in the soil from aluminum toxins, can’t even instigate his discovery in an area where growing food is already difficult, because of the reaction of Greenpeace.
-Neda

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