Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why Do G.M.O.'s Need Protection? -

In the nearly 20 years of applied use of G.E. in agriculture there have been two notable “successes,” along with a few less notable ones.[3] These are crops resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (Monsanto develops both the seeds and the herbicide to which they’re resistant) and crops that contain their own insecticide. The first have already failed, as so-called superweeds have developed resistance to Roundup, and the second are showing signs of failing, as insects are able to develop resistance to the inserted Bt toxin — originally a bacterial toxin — faster than new crop variations can be generated.

Nothing else in the world of agricultural genetic engineering even comes close to the “success” of these two not-entirely-successful creations. Furthermore, at least in these cases, their pattern of success (and high profits) followed by failure was inevitable.

Don’t take my word for it. Let me summarize extensive conversations I’ve recently had with Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist and plant pathologist at the Union of Concerned Scientists: Roundup Ready seeds allowed farmers to spend less time and energy controlling weeds. But the temporary nature of the gains was predictable: “There was no better way to create weeds tolerant to glyphosate (Roundup) than to spray all of them intensively for a few years,” Gurian-Sherman told me. “And that’s what was done.”
Still, we should abhor the use of genetically engineered seeds without adequate testing, and protest against hijacking the Constitution to guarantee the “right” to unregulated use of genetically engineered seeds.

Genetic engineering has its problems. Like nuclear power, it may someday become safe and productive or – again like nuclear power – it may become completely unnecessary. Our job as citizens is to support the production of energy and food by the most sustainable and least damaging methods scientists can devise. If that’s genetic engineering, fine. But to date it hasn’t been; in fact, the technology has been little more than an income-generator for a few corporations desperate to see those profits continue regardless of the cost to the rest of us, or to the environment.

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Why Do G.M.O.'s Need Protection? -

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