Monday, May 25, 2009

A Response

I hadn’t intended to write any more about genetically modified foods (and really, this post is not solely about GM); but Jason Major’s comment on the last post kicked my brain into overtime to the extent that I got out of bed well past midnight to write down a few thoughts. Hopefully I can now get them out of my system.

First, let me say that I was more than a little disappointed that I was not able to email Jason for clarification. I did search the website linked to his name, and it is an interesting one. But I was not able to find a direct address for him. So I was not able to really satisfactorily learn what exactly is encompassed by embryo rescue, and thus can’t state an opinion on it one way or another. (So Jason, if you’re out there, I would welcome an opportunity to pose a few questions to you…)

I would also like to state, for the record, that I do not categorically object to biotechnology. I believe in natural laws; and I believe science is the perfect mechanism by which to learn about and develop understanding of those laws. I believe that developing that understanding allows us to harness natural processes to our benefit. I am less comfortable with the idea of forcibly mutating natural forms. Still, in a laboratory setting, and for “higher purposes,” perhaps this is okay. However, laboratory science is one thing and it is quite another to A) release manufactured organisms into the ecosystem (our life-support system), and B) inject manufactured organisms directly into the food chain.

I don’t have a problem with the lofty goals advertised in association with engineered foods. But mounting evidence suggests a dark side to engineered foods that is not controllable outside the lab. I don’t think we should wait until there is a cataclysmic problem to acknowledge that there is a problem.

And for me, I don’t want my food to be produced via a process I don’t understand and I don’t want to have to obtain an advanced degree in order to understand the process. I cannot speak to the veracity of Jason’s comment that organic foods are the products of processes like mutagenesis. Thinking about, though, I suspect it is true in the sense that specific varieties were developed using these sorts of techniques. The growing process is cleaner; but the variety development process perhaps wasn’t.

So, for me, this strongly reaffirms my belief in heirloom plants. These are varieties that were developed before modern monkeying. There are more than a few small organic growers out there who grow heirloom food crops. Large-scale organic growers, I suspect, are more likely to be growing engineered varieties. So my advice to others concerned about engineered foods, I suppose, is to grow heirloom varieties or ask your local growers if they do or will grow heirloom varieties. An added benefit: heirloom varieties often have better flavor and higher nutrient values.

And now, I return you to the regularly scheduled programming...

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