Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pyle: Nature abhors uniformity | The Salt Lake Tribune

Suppose you like chocolate. I mean, really, really like chocolate. Suppose you are offered two tables set with food.
On one table, there is chocolate. That’s all, just chocolate. On the other table, there is also chocolate. Just as much chocolate as there is on the first. But there are also other things. Cauliflower. Liver. Tofu. Rotten eggs. Dirty diapers. Which table are you going to eat from?
Now, suppose you are a weevil or worm or a bacteria, and that you like a particular kind of plant, leaf, root or seed. You like it so much that that may be all you eat. Maybe all you can eat.
If so, then modern agriculture is made for you, my little friend. Most of what we eat comes from acre upon acre of genetically identical crops, mostly corn, either milled into a variety of ingredients for processed foods or fed to cows, pigs and chickens on its way to becoming our lunch.
To an evolutionary biologist, this is madness. And, deep down, farmers and crop scientists also think it is crazy.
Whole states full of uniform crops are a Darwinian signal for the copious reproduction of pests — winged, multi-legged, no-legged and microscopic — that eat those crops.
But, instead of copying nature and drawing our foods from an infinite polyculture of plants and animals, humans have doubled down on the idea of the farming monoculture and invented all kinds of new ways to pretend that it works.
Prime among these tools of denial is the genetically modified organism, or GMO. It is the industrial mindset applied to a biological process, one that understands industry a lot better than it does biology.
While there have long been promises of GMOs that allow crops to be grown in bad soil, with little water or scant amounts of fertilizer, there are really only two kinds of GMO crops that have been grown on a wide scale.
Pyle: Nature abhors uniformity | The Salt Lake Tribune:

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