Thank you for all of your efforts. I worked at the Hawaii House of Representative between 1999-early 2005, for past Representative Helene Hale, the oldest elected member of the House of Representative. During my term with her I wrote a short version to place in into defining GMO and labeling local grown products which failed to be heard in committee. I learned how the powers being … can control what get heard and/or passed. Many thanks to all of your efforts. Our House bill was the first and not the last.
Barbara from Hawaii
Thanks for writing and for reading Off The Grid News!
One of the benefits/penalties of Advanced Maturity is a memory of little things that now pop up. Hence this question about GMO foods and Monsanto.
As a child in the 30s and 40s, we used to drive from our home in Mansfield, Ohio to visit my mother’s relatives south of Toledo. We drove through many fields of corn, many of which had highway signs declaring “DeKalb XX”, a number representing the particular version of hybrid corn developed by the DeKalb company. A few years later, in high school science classes, I was introduced to the concepts of hybrid plants, grafting for better apples, roses, and so forth, changing plants for what we wanted. In fact, we now learn that corn as we know it came from a much smaller plant in Mexico that, over centuries, was enlarged and improved to what we toss onto the grill these days.
Pray tell, what is the difference between what Monsanto has been doing to develop plants that resist pests and what DeKalb was doing seventy years ago with their corn seeds?
Charlie Brown, Hendersonville, NC
Thanks for writing.
Your question is a good one, and one that GMO supporters often raise. There are many ways to answer your question, but we must begin by stating simply: hybrid plants are natural, GMO plants are unnatural. One has been occurring for thousands of years. One has begun only with modern science. One occurs even without human intervention, one requires human intervention and modern-day science. One cross breeds using similar things, the other breeds un-similar things.
To quote one of our archived Off The Grid News stories: “Plant hybrids are only crossed with plants of the same species, species that would cross naturally in nature if grown together and cross-pollinated. GMOs can be different species, such as a fish and a tomato, forced together. These things would not happen in nature, even if grown side-by-side. They are not natural, though they might appear to be. Additionally, GMOs can also be created in a lab to cross similar species in a way that would not happen nearly so quickly in nature, as is the case with our modern-day wheat.” (Read the full story here.)
Another one of our experts wrote, “While hybrids simply harness a naturally occurring process, GMOs are created in a lab using techniques, such as gene splicing, that are foreign to the natural world.” (Read that story here.)
GMO crops can’t be created in nature. That’s the whole point, and that’s why Monsanto and others turn to laboratory “magic.”
Just because something can happen doesn’t make it natural. After all, in a whole different branch of science, scientists now are finding ways to make sperm-less embryos and even embryos with multiple biological parents. That’s not natural.
And we haven’t even mentioned heirloom seeds, which are natural and taste better than hybrid seeds, anyway.
There also are the health concerns that many GMO opponents have. Yes, people all over the globe have been consuming GMO foods for more than a decade now, but that’s not a lot of time to study the long-term effects on health. As Professor Chuck Benbrook, an agricultural economist at Washington State University, told The Olympian newspaper, scientists have not spent enough time studying “changes in reproductive development, immune system health, the rate of cancer, various blood problems, etc.” The “vast majority of research has focused on the nutrient composition of crops and not the impacts on humans,” The Olympian paraphrased him saying.
Again, thanks for writing.