Sunday, April 18, 2010

My passion: GM Produce

This was a response to a facebook request for what my friends thought about GM foods. Most answered by stating they were greatly concerned. I responded with a thank you and a two page notation of what I have learned about GM produce, implying they could read it if they wished.

Cute story: My Grandma was totally for GM foods and pesticides. When she was little, she bit into an apple and saw the other half of a worm. Guess where the first half was? Yummy. She’d bicker about teens today and their organic food and would say: “They’d think different if they ate a worm!” And maybe they would.

For me however, about four years ago, I probably would have said the same thing most people do: “It’s no good for nature,” “it can give you cancer,” “I’m really concerned about it’s affects on the natural world.” Plus all those stories and talk of DNA splicing and so forth…it is a scary concept; I was thinking about organic food myself. And around four years ago, I watched this show that had interviewed and talked about Norman Borloug. I bet none of you have ever heard of him – I sure hadn’t. He is the father of GM produce and to count today has saved over a billion lives and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Past away in 2008. Now, after hearing about him, I decided to research GM on my own and figure out what it’s really about.

Genetic Modification means breeding.
For example: Two wheat plants hold up the strongest to the harsh heat of the African sun – therefore, the GM (scientist if you will) pollinate the two.
You and I, in that since, are genetically modified. Yours and my parents choose a mate to produce with. Of course, in the western world it’s based on love but it’s still considered a genetic modification. I thought that’s a pretty interesting analogy. But also, in a technical since, farming is a genetic modification – if it was purely organic, we would pick it from the wildlife.

I was able to tour a GM facility once. It was a nursery, a giant nursery, isn’t that amazing??

There are of course dangers of GM produce, which is basically that they need to be careful that one variety of the plant doesn’t wipe out the natural one. They have large amounts of restrictions that all GM produce must adhere by before getting near the exit of any facility.

On the subject of organic foods:
Organic foods is a beautiful and wonderful idea in theory. However as practiced, it isn’t practical. Organic foods cannot feed the world. Most of what GM produce do is breeding the plants so that they will grow in the rough terrains – especially in soil that makes any other crop die due to lack of nutrients. It’s why

I have spoken with a specialist at GM foods who was really for the concept of organic foods (I was rather shocked to hear). Although, they were disappointed when finding out that organic farms have a very limited regulation for their crops. They are even allowed to use pesticides! He was pretty upset about that, but I believe he grows his own organic produce outside his home.

On the subject of population in relation to GM foods:
I actually took this amazing population and society course once. And how it was explained to me was – the most population growth is coming from third world countries. In these third world countries, there’s an exceeding amount of births. A woman on average has about 6 or so children. It has nothing to do with gender or society pressures, but the sole fact that she knows, at least 3 or 4 of them will die. The number one cause of death of children in third world countries is dihearrea caused by dirty water. (and 1st world countries provide the with medicine to cure the symptoms instead of attacking the source). That’s what WaterAid does, builds pumps and educates people about hygiene. GM food can solve a great chunk of hunger issues, but it doesn’t stop disease, politics, economy and social problems. In a theoretical since, let’s take out all those issues and state that hunger is the only reason that people are dying. It would solve our population problem. Allow me to demonstrate: Children in third world countries our dying, they are in a since born to die. Now, if gradually they stop dying and that woman who has 6 children and they continued to live, well she cannot afford to have that many. The next generations will see that the children are living and will gradually stop having as many children, thus allowing their population to even out in third world countries. It took England 100 to 200 years to even out their population and other countries afterwords a lot less time to do so. In the right conditions, third world countries can even out in 20-30 years tops. However, the world would have to deal with a very large baby boom before it settles, and that is the hard part for all countries.

On the case of the banana:
Yes, it is true that bananas have been cloned but not in the way we think of it today. The banana that we eat today was facing huge problems sixty years ago. A large disease was wiping them out. Many bananas like plants are non-existent due to this problem. Specialists were able to choose one in order to save. It started actually in India where they took a part of a surviving banana and re-grew it. As my anthropology teacher –from India- explains, it’s n old farming trick used for decades.

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