Last night, Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) KCTS 9 in Seattle changed their programming schedule to air a one-sided program on genetically engineered (GE) crops called, “Next Meal: Engineering Food.” This program was originally scheduled to air on Wednesday, November 13 at 7:30 PM. The program that was scheduled for last night, “Lake Tahoe: Can We Save It?” was switched just days ago.
Executive Director of Programming, Randy Brinson made the decision to air Next Meal last night instead, despite hundreds of calls and e-mails in protest from the Washington State Grassroots Coalition for Yes on I-522, the initiative to label genetically modified foods (GMOs) in this state. The reason he gave for the switch was that it was “timely.” Indeed. Just in time for the election.
This program looks like the propaganda put forth by the chemical industries who are promoting GMOs. On the program, they trotted out an array of plant biologists, all singing the praises of GE crops and how they are environmentally friendly and are going to feed the world. They presented the industry's favorite public relations crops: Flavr Savr tomato, golden rice, sorghum, and drought-resistant rice. Here's a newsflash:none of those crops exist on the grocery shelves. Not one. There is only one drought-tolerant GE variety on the FDA approval list, and that is corn.
They want you to believe that their genetic tampering is benign; they're just making things taste better, stay firmer, with higher vitamin content or protein digestibility. They want you to believe they are merely inserting genes from one plant into another to achieve these traits. Indeed, one of the plant biologists said so in the video. Even in the very few cases (Flavr Savr tomato, golden rice) where this is true, it is only half true. In addition to other plant genes (tomato, daffodil), there are also bacteria (E-coli, Erwinia uredovora) genes inserted.
According to the FDA approval list, almost all of the genetic modification entails inserting a gene from either a bacterium or a virus to make the plant resistant to direct applications of herbicides (herbicide tolerant, HT), or to make them resistant to insects (Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt). This is hardly the same as conventional cross-breeding. They are not crossing two different species in the same genus, or even plants from two different genera in the same family, they are crossing organisms that aren't even in the same kingdom!