More on the great GMO debate

Posted on June 2, 2014. Filed under: Science, Society | Tags: , |

People have a tendency to criticize what they don’t understand.

Take Common Core, for instance. There is a lot of talk on the internet about how Common Core math is destroying our children, and making them mentally feeble.

The problem is that Common Core is merely a set of standards. What should be receiving the criticism is the agreed upon methodology for teaching our students.

The State of Indiana was applauded for being the first state to abandon Common Core. What wasn’t reported was that the governor of Indiana proposed his own set of standards; pretty much Common Core, only with his name on it.

When I went to school, that was called plagiarism.

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs are under fire. Opponents of GMOs like to point out that other countries are banning GMOs, so the US should follow suit. Two counties in southern Oregon have recently passed ordinances effectively banning GMOs. Why? Because the organic farmers are afraid the GMO crops will cross pollinate and change their GMO crops into GMOs. In my opinion, it is an effort by the organic farmers to drive out the competition, pure and simple.

And the people, being fearful and not knowing any better, follow like sheep and vote themselves increased prices at the grocery store, just like the people of Portland vote themselves tax increases.

My mother used to say when I was younger “if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”

I’m only going to say this once.

There is no credible evidence that GMOs are harmful to humans, just as there is no credible evidence that the marijuana super-plant known as hemp cures cancer.

Or can be used to build buildings.

The studies floating around the internet are either bogus, or they are based on bad science. GMOs are not harmful to humans. We’ve been eating GMOs for hundreds of years, whether or not the hippie crowd wants to believe it or not. Even their beloved vegetables have been GMOs, long before Monsanto came along.

Those who are against GMOs also happen to be the ones that believe that climate change is real and man-made. On the one hand, they applaud science for sounding the alarm that our planet is warming up, while the other is decrying it as creating Frankenstein’s monster.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been pondering, and I began to wonder about them.

I’m not afraid to eat them. I honestly doubt that I am in any danger from them. I’ve been reading for awhile that bees are dying by the thousands. We had a case here in Oregon where some worker at a Target sprayed a bunch of trees in the parking lot while they were flowering and attracting bees. The bees began dying due to the pesticide by the hundreds.

Bees are important to our food chain. There is no doubt about it. But if you do an internet search, you find all sorts of opinions that GMOs are killing the bees. No hard evidence or data to back it up, only anecdotes.

I’m sure that our use of pesticides is having an impact on the bee population, but the dirty little secret that the anti-GMO crowd doesn’t want you to know is that organic farmers use far more pesticides than GMO farmers do. They have to.

I think what scares people is that the Monsanto seeds are called “Roundup Ready”, after the weed control spray of the same name. People assume, incorrectly, that this means that Monsanto has altered the genes of these plants to make them resistant to insects.

The funny thing is that Roundup isn’t a pesticide, it’s an herbicide. Oh, sure, it will kill insects, but according to MIT, who I find much more credible than some random whack job website, the term Roundup Ready means that the crop is resistant to Roundup, so that farmers can use Roundup on their crops to control weeds without fear of killing the crop.

So who is misleading whom?

(This website presents both sides of the debate)

To be sure, there are issues with the Roundup Ready seeds that Monsanto produces, but none are related to human consumption.  For example, Monsanto’s seeds are sterile, meaning that they can be used to grow a single crop, and then new seeds must be purchased. They are collectively known as terminator seeds.

As the crop is Roundup resistant, over time, the weeds become resistant to it as well. As the above link points out, Monsanto themselves have funded a study that bears this out.

The final problem is cross-contamination. Monsanto has sued farmers whose crops have become cross contaminated.

This is the dark side of Monsanto. If you cannot prove that a given farmer has intentionally cross contaminated his crop, you should not be able to sue them just because nature has taken its course.

Generally, crops are modified genetically to change the size and numbers produced, as well as sweetness (or flavor). It would seem that GMOs were created to help with the world hunger problem, especially during a time of “climate change”, but anti-GMO groups are working overtime to block it.

Amazingly enough, I think Hollywood has spread some of this fear, through the movie Jurassic Park, and how scientists substituted the DNA of a frog that reproduced asexually to fill the gaps of DNA code that existed in the strands that they had in their possession.

But we are talking about corn, not dinosaurs. I definitely do not advocate trying to clone dinosaurs in a lab.

I have a relative who has said before that “if an insect won’t eat it, I probably shouldn’t either.”

Here’s the problem with that line of thought. There are some crops that have been modified to be less appealing to insects, not kill them. While I am not a genetic engineer, it seems to me that you can’t alter the DNA of a plant to make it produce its own internal pesticide. So, all the worries about consuming pesticides in your veggies could be a big ado about nothing, because as far as I can tell, it does not exist.

Are GMOs killing the bee population?

Probably not, but increased use of more powerful pesticides probably is.

And it is the organic farmers who use more of that than GMO farmers.

But why let facts get in the way of a good protest?

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