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Before I even open up this topic, I have to admit that I am prejudiced. I DO NOT accept that technology always equals progress. If you think it does, then I’m asking you,“WHAT exactly are we progressing toward?”

JUST BECAUSE WE CAN…SHOULD WE?

By 2050, we will need to have figured out a way to feed nine billion people, found a solution to protect our drinking water from pollution, and -almost certainly- adjust to some kind of drastic climate change. All this at the same time, and in less than 40 years!

Given this alarming set of problems, let’s just limit ourselves to the first challenge and ask “What is the quickest, least expensive way to develop higher yields of drought-, flood- and pest-resistant crops?” How are we going to feed that many people?

Some people think that genetically engineered (GE) crops are the answer. However, classical breeding programs (the system that has supported mankind since we began growing our own food) introduce new varieties just as fast as genetic engineering, and use ecologically soundmethods. GE foods are not better. Why? Because genetically engineered seeds do not increase overall crop production. Most of the “genetic engineering” that is done is just to help the seed survive being drenched with chemicals. That’s all.

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Monsanto and DuPont, the two largest chemical companies in the world, are also the two largest seed companies in the world. What a coincidence! The main source of seeds for all our major crops are being patented by these two corporations. Instead of being an answer to world hunger, genetic engineering could actually be a major contributor to starvation! How?

READ THIS PART TWICE

There are now patents on genetically engineered ‘terminator’ seeds. These seeds are designed by biotech companies to produce a sterile seed after a single growing season! This is done to make sure that farmers cannot save the seeds to use the next planting period, but will have to buy them from corporations every season instead. Does anyone believe that the solution to world hunger is to make the crops of the world sterile?

Seeds of Change Terminator Seeds Ban This Technology

JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN…SHOULD WE LET THEM?

Can you picture the starvation that would occur should these “sterility genes” escape from the engineered crops and contaminate other local crops, unintentionally sterilizing them? It would be catastrophic, since most of the world’s farmers DO rely on seeds saved from one season to use in planting the next years’ crop.

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Facts regarding Natural Food Vs. Genetically Engineered Foods

1.  EXPENSE – Genetically engineered crops are significantly more expensive                    to  develop.

2.  CONTROL -The world’s food supply will be in the hands of a few large companies. Self-sufficient farmers will be driven off their land. (Monopolies are never good.)

3.  TESTING TIME IS THE SAME – Just as in classical breeding, new GE varieties must be tested in the field for several years to ensure they perform as expected.

4.  FOOD SECURITY -Will we know what we are eating?

5.  POLLINATION – GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) can’t control honey bees! Insect pollination is the main way plants are propagated. Insects will move genetically modified material around, spreading it in unexpected ways and to unwanted places. The insects themselves may also be affected by the differing qualities/quantities of nectar from these plants – and in the case of honey bees – it may be passed on to us when we eat their honey!

6.  DECREASED NUTRITIONAL VALUE – Brightly colored, fresh looking GE foods may actually be weeks old, with poorer nutritional value.

7.  INFERIOR PROPERTIES- Plant breeders have already produced drought tolerant varieties of sorghum, corn, rice, cassava and pearl millet – all critical for poor farmers in developing countries. Meanwhile, Genetic engineering has yet to commercialize its first drought-tolerant crop.

8.  BIODIVERSITY – Biotechnology will destroy biodiversity by limiting the types of foods grown – we need more kinds NOT LESS!

9.  NO RECALL – Once genetically modified organisms have been introduced into the environment, they can’t be called back. It’s permanent.

For Example: Researchers at Purdue University found out that the release of only a few genetically engineered fish into a large native fish population could make the original species extinct in only a few generations. Scientists at Cornell University discovered that the pollen from Bt corn could be fatal to the monarch butterfly and other beneficial insects.

10.  GENE TRANSFER- Is it possible that human genes could be introduced into the food supply? ABSOLUTELY!!!!

11.  HEALTH CONCERNS -Researchers at the USDA are currently experimenting with inserting human growth genes into pigs, in a Maryland project at the Belchville Agricultural Research Center. The problem? If you introduce human genes into pigs, viruses that only affect pigs could adapt to affect humans! If viruses are able to cross the species barrier, then we could have devastating worldwide epidemics in the human population!

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Our ability to play with genetics gives us the power to alter our biology and radically change our environment. Forever. This kind of power should not be given to -or wielded by- those seeking profits. That we allow this power to be unregulated is unbelievable, but true.

If we don’t take a stand now, our future is already set.

Check these links for library books available

Seed, Soil, Sun: Earth’s recipe for Food by Peterson, Cris

Uncertain Peril: genetic engineering and the future of seeds by Cummings, Claire

A seed is sleepy by Aston, Dianna Hutts

Plant (DVD) by Mortimore, Morton

Seeds of Change: the living treasure: the passionate story of the growing movement to restore biodiversity and revolutionize the way we think about food by Ausubel, Ken

Growing plants from seed by Abraham, George

Starved for science: how biotechnology is being kept out of Africa by Paarlberg, Robert L.

Genetically engineered food: a self-defense guide for consumers by Cummins, Ronnie

From the good earth: a celebration of growing food around the world by Ableman, Michael

The everything guide to foraging: identifying, harvesting and cooking nature’s wild fruits and vegetables by Shufer, Vickie

The dirty life: on farming, food and love by Kimball, Kristin

Four Fish: the future of the last wild food by Greenberg, Paul

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