(Re: “Anti-GMO activism is evil,” Nov. 17, Danish Plan). I really love how Mr. Danish opened his piece. First, he rightly points out the incredible percentage of crops in America that are genetically modified and then he asks an incredibly important question: “Why are we even having this conversation?” I was hoping I could answer that for him.
But there’s one thing you need to understand first. Evil is good. And good is evil. I know! These are tough concepts. Perhaps I can amplify their meaning by nesting them in the context of the arguments he put forth. Let’s take the USDA and American Agricultural Apparatus’ adoption of GM crops and related science first. If someone has 88 percent to 94 percent of something, which in this case, is GM’s share of the food crop, what do we call that? It’s not a paucity. It’s a monopoly. More importantly, it’s a monopoly over the one thing that we all need. But I’m sure we can trust the USDA with shepherding this one vital resource. After all, it was their incredible visionary powers that saved us from the latent effects of DDT! Yes, American Agriculture has embraced GMOs. And we all know Americans are amongst the healthiest eaters on the planet and paragons of moral virtue. That’s why we’re spreading our view all over the world. Because it’s good.
Which brings me to his next point.
The world is starving, and if it weren’t for GMOs, everyone would be dead. This does include, of course, the 10,000 Haitian farmers who burned Monsanto’s generous contribution of “aid seeds” after their devastating earthquake. Why would they do such a thing, though? Isn’t Haiti amongst the most impoverished nations? Don’t they need this food? What can possibly explain this illogical behavior? I know. It’s because they’re evil.
Really though, how do farmers survive without GMOs? Don’t ask the thousands of generations of farmers that didn’t get to use them; they’re evil too, and dishonest. So are the organic farmers. In fact, these are all just fringe-case luddites hell-bent on “trashing” the livelihoods of Boulder’s GMO farm families. They’re just like the lunatics in the 30 other countries around the world who have banned GMOs from their food supply. And where are these countries’ GMO farmers now? Surely, rotting in a ditch somewhere. I think the questions Mr. Danish meant to ask were:
Why can’t these people shut up and ignore the science that shows GMOs sterilizing lab rats within three generations? Why can’t these unruly citizens subordinate their interest in the land they paid for to the benefit of a couple dozen GMO farmers? Why can’t they turn a blind eye from the beltway traffic between Monsanto and federal regulatory positions? Why, oh why, can’t they just stop caring, lay down and die? As it turns out, Mr. Danish would receive the same answer that you did to your original question. Because they’re evil. So. Evil.
The Danish Plan piece is frankly infuriating. Paul says the horse is out of the barn with GMOs, so let’s just ignore any of the concerns and let the same companies fix the problems. Nuclear energy must be good, so anyone against it is evil. Paul, have you heard of Fukushima?
Paul starts with the old saw that GMOs are needed to feed the world and the Green Revolution was all good. If GMOs could feed the world, we would have no hunger today. We produce enough calories for each man, woman and child on the planet to eat 2,700 calories per day, yet there is hunger, with even 14 percent of the population here in the U.S. now relying on food stamps. Food production is just one issue in feeding the world. More important issues are food waste, lack of distribution, corrupt governments and general poverty. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the World Health Organization is betting on intensive agro-ecological farming for the future, not GMOs. The Green Revolution left poor soils, pesticide residues and debtor nations in its wake. Doing more of the same doesn’t solve the hunger problem.
If GMOs produce weed resistance, Paul says just wait for the same companies to solve the problem by incorporating more herbicide resistance in the plant. They have already engineered 2,4D resistance into plants to be released in the next year or so. I thought GMOs were supposed to reduce toxic pesticide use. Due to the rise of weed resistance, these toxic pesticides are now being used again and total pesticide use is up.
GMOs are not the only crops that may be grown on open space. The land should be used for local food production, and there are plenty of crops that can grow in Boulder County besides corn and sugar beets. We need more local food, and the public overwhelmingly supports the idea (read the latest polls). I would rather rely on local food than agriculture based on seeds single-sourced from agribusiness giants such as Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont. Lastly: Paul, really? Peace activists are evil? Have you read any of Amory Lovins’ work that points out that nuclear power is expensive, risky and inefficient? There are other forms of power far bet- ter and more cost-efficient, yet let’s demonize peace activists as evil rather than considering the big picture. I thought since you describe yourself as a libertarian you’d understand that everyone has a right to freedom of expression and activism. Apparently, those traits really are evil in your mind.
Mary C. Mulry/via Internet
Your writer Paul Danish opines that “tampering with the world’s ability to feed itself for political gain” is “malignantly evil.” As an active Christian, I agree strongly. That is one reason I work hard for legal controls on gene-tampering (also called genetic “engineering,” genetic manipulation, GM). Mr. Danish is precisely wrong in his slogan “Anti- GMO activism is evil.”
Danish says that, given the pervasiveness of GM crops in the USA, “there should be hundreds of thousands of human cases of GMO-induced human illness and tens of millions of sick chickens, pigs and cows.” He implies that no such epidemics have occurred. I convened a team of experts to investigate one type of harm apparently caused by a GM food. Our “pop” summary (www.connectotel.com/gmfood/trypto.html) points out briefly why that logic “what you’ve not noticed won’t hurt you” is fallacious.
Anyhow, the evidence for harm from GM food is many and varied, as set forth in the book Genetic Roulette.
Such gambling might begin to find some justification if GM food could increase “the world’s ability to feed itself.” But so far, GM crops have not yielded higher than good organic agriculture. The profits have gone to Monsanto, which sells the patented seeds and supplies the Roundup.
Further reasons for containing GM experiments include potential new pathogens for mammals such as humans, and other hazards which can be studied at www.psrast.org.
New Zealand has, wisely, not permitted any open-field GM plants or GM trees, and indeed most countries still ban them. The USA, Argentina, Brazil and a few others account for nearly all the GM crops so far. Similarly, the USA and several other countries built some 400 nuclear power stations while most of the world prohibits such hazards. The gene-jockeys make the nuclear enthusiasts look scrupulously candid and honest, so please disregard the wild PR operatives like Danish. Gene-jiggering is, in some versions, the most dangerous technology ever.
Robert Mann, senior lecturer in environmental studies, University of Auckland/ New Zealand
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