To Modify Or Not To Modify

February 2nd, 2011

We recently talked about the push for desert agriculture and how it is ruining the Aral sea. The simplest solution would of course be to stop farming in the desert, stop diverting the rivers. But the area had quickly become dependent on the influx of food and profits. It seems that once an area starts producing more than average, it would be problematic if it ever produced less. The same story goes for our own country.

The other day I was watching TV and saw a commercial praising the American farmer. Wholesome shots of men in plaid shirts standing in fields of wheat seemed nice enough. But at the end I saw the sponsor: Monstano. I was familiar with this name and it immediately put a bad taste in my mouth.  Monsanto is the mastermind behind the infamous pesticide RoundUp, and also behind genetically engineered seedlings that can withstand this particular poison. RoundUp is probably one of the worst things one can spray, as it kills anything green, unless the plant is specially modified. Monsanto has used genetic engineering in many different ways, including using antibiotic markers on DNA sequences. This type of genetic modification has unknown health effects, but there have been some troubling cases and effects reported. The only successful way of really monitoring the effects of modified foods is for them all to be labeled.

It seems to me that a company like Monsanto would be entirely focused on production and profit, while ignoring environmental and health problems that arise from their work. This sounds like the same mindset of the farming around the Aral sea. We have become reliant on unnaturally large yields due to genetic engineering and pesticide use in this country. It would be interesting to see if we could grow enough food to feed our nation if everything was grown organically, free of GMs. Our bioengineering is similar to the rerouting of rivers. It opens exciting new doors, but it is easy to lose sight of consequences, especially when it becomes too late to fix.

How do you feel about Genetic Modification of your food? Would you be less inclined to buy something that you knew what genetically modified?

The The Future Of Food is a very informative documentary that goes quite in-depth on genetic modification, just some food for thought.


3 Responses to “To Modify Or Not To Modify”

  1. isikora said:

    Personally, I am against genetically modified food of either plant or animal source. It seems pretty shortsighted to me. Yes, we possibly can engineer wheat that withstands droughts, diseases, high/low temps, but do we also genetically engineer all the insects so they don’t evolve into possible pests devouring the only crop we end up growing? And knowing the principles of the natural selection, insects will evolve to enjoy this particular plant, because they have to eat too, so speeding up evolution of the plant without considering the environment seems pretty unnatural to me and not really viable for a long time.

  2. isikora said:

    I haven’t seen the video yet, but thank you for posting it!

  3. Dr. Szulczewski said:

    This reminds me of another documentary, “Food Inc,” which we will be watching later this semester. I hope you will share many of your ideas and these thoughts with the class then!