5 votes

The anti-GMO movement needs to get specific

The anti-GMO movement has a problem. Namely the anti-GMO individuals I see posting on the DP often fail to discriminate when opposing GMO products. This sort of "shotgun" approach to activism is a burden on any movment that seeks to make gains either politically, or in real positive terms. Let me explain what I mean from the perspective of a farm kid, say the kind of kid who spent some of his childhood summers helping his grandfather clean and package seed for local farmers. Bear with me as I tell this little parable, and I promise it'll all make sense in the end.

I've seen what can happen when new technology that affects your business comes on to the marketplace, and you refuse to accept the value of this technology. For instance, my grandfather had a flourishing business selling fertilizer and seed to local farmers. I'm pretty sure he was the last seed cleaner operating independently in the the county when I was a boy, but by then his business was fading fast. Luckily he didn't need it to last much longer, but he was slowly sinking because of a sweeping change in plant science. Was it Monsanto and the evil GMO's that were doing him in you might ask....well in a word NO, because this was 20 years ago and GMO was not an issue at the time. Today he probably would be facing lawsuits from Monsanto for seed cleaning, but that is beside the point.

My grandfather was a simple honorable man. The kind of man who when he couldn't get the county to build a needed road organized the local farmers, and got it built himself. He also had a major problem in that he figured what had worked best for him and his father and his fathers father would always be the best way to get things done. When seed companies began selling hybrid seed he refused to market this new higher priced seed, and he advised the farmers that he sold to, to avoid it as well. He thought the whole thing was a fad......simply put he was wrong, as in 100% incontrovertibly wrong. Worse than being wrong though was that he refused to admit he had been wrong, and he refused to sell those hybrid seeds. He doubled down on his dire predictions of what would befall farmers who fell for the "fad", and he lost a lot of respect in the farm community, and a lot of business as a result. In the end it cost him his main business, and left him only a niche role as a seed cleaner.

The Anti-GMO movement runs a very real risk of making the same mistake. I often see dire predictions of the evils of GMO seed and GMO crops. Let me point out that all GMO is not the same. Grouping all GMO together, and blasting it all both the good and the bad as an evil conspiracy could very well destroy the credibility of the liberty movement in the eyes of many. It may seem we are winning the anti GMO fight, but if we are it is only because the big ag groups are ignoring us as a nuisance, they have not yet begun to fight. When they push back, and they will, we run a very real danger of losing this argument in the court of public opinion and thus in the real courts that will decide these issues unless we can refine our point of attack.

Not all GMO is the same, if you cannot see this, or if you don't want to hear this, then by all means stop reading, but if you want to win the GMO battle then read on. Not all gene splicing is bad for instance, doing gene splicing where genes from the same type of plant are added to speed up the same process that could be achieved through crossbreeding is pretty harmless. The effect of this type of splicing is no different than grafting fruit trees or cross pollinating broccolli, the only difference is the resultant crop grows true seed, meaning the desired traits can be maintained in future generations of planting without further crossing of varieties every year. In more practical terms if one bean is drought tolerant, and another has high yields, and a third handles cold wet planting conditions better, gene splicing can help you achieve a plant that has all these characteristics within several growing cycles instead of hundreds. Previously these types would be cross polinated and over many years you would refine the best plants until you got a bean with all three characteristics. This can take hundreds of years, in the mean time a lot of people will starve. Genetic modification for traits like this is just efficient, and a good idea. If we want to oppose GMO crops effectively we should be clear that this type of crop science is perfectly OK to us.

Another type of modification is adding traits that are not found in the species to begin with. For instance you want your corn to make its own pesticide so you splice some genes from a plant that makes its own anti-pest poisions into your corn plant, this is unnatural, and a poor idea. The potential disasterous side effects of such a modification are totally unknown (though the collapse of honeybees exposed to this Bt corn is one well known and very bad side effect) and since the crop produces true seed it can be very difficult if not imposible to remove this trait from the crops seed supply later, since this seed grows inherently hardier crops the decendents of these plants will out compete heirloom crop varieties when provided a level field of competition. This type of modification has side effects that are known to be bad, and can be proven to be so. This is the type of GMO that should be very vigorously opposed.

The former idea is akin to only keeping the strongest male calf to be the bull in your herd. The latter is like cross breeding your cattle with a chicken so that they lay huge eggs....even if you can make it work it just isn't right either in a traditional moral sense, or in any other moral system I can even begin to conceive of. Not to mention if you accidentally got a bull with this trait your new heifer calves may now crow, and fail to produce milk for their calves...a very bad outcome indeed.

When we lump all GMO's together we leave ourselves open to obvious attack. When opposing GMO's we should take a page out of Rands playbook. If we narrow our objections to the most demonstrably problematic issues related to GMO we can build a base of support from which we can achieve more without attacking the few good things about GMO along with the bad things. In the process we'll buld a bulwark against the inevitable counterattack that big pharma will launch, we'll burnish our credential as a movement that can win, and we might even help strengthen liberty if only by a little bit.

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Natural and Unnatural

Unnatural men spend their whole life trying to destroy what is natural.

Their greed and god complex creates that which is unnatural.

Genetically modified food will genetically modify you.

Humans who try and keep others from living a natural life are sick and twisted.

Natural Order

Well explained and clearly

Well explained and clearly thought out.

I wonder what your thoughts would be on testing the 'evil' GMOs in isolated indoor areas over several generations to demonstrate its safety. I believe they already do this though. Perhaps they could be more thorough, but surely we have to explore every avenue of advancement we are offered by the nature of reality.

I would favor such a thing if it could be done

I am not sure there is enough money in the world to do it though. The earths natural ecosystems are so complex and unpredictable that I do not know how you could pull it off. You'd basically have to wall off several square miles of area and seal it hermetically. It would have to be populated with all the indiginous animals native to the location you are testing for, as well as native plants and ecosystems. Then you'd have to run the tests for years on end since some of these things take time to build up enough to show up. Of course you'd have to run a seperate test for each and every bioregion where your GMO crop is to be potentially grown. I'm pretty sure you could not do this and make any profit on it..then again, maybe that's a good goal. It sure would make it hard to get management approval and funding to splice some of this stuff together in the first place if they knew they'd have to test so thoroughly before they could sell it.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

There is a very good analogy.

There is a very good analogy. Studies found that people did not tend to suffer weight related illnesses when they ate a traditional diet. The reason postulated was that several centuries had proven that the diet worked for that particular people.

Well science must keep working. Maybe we can find a way to boil down all the complex environmental factors into a few key parameters. Until then, I would tend to agree with you.

I upvoted this

so that hopefully it will be up long enough for someone else to see it and read it. I spent an hour or more writing it, so hopefully someone else will see it.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

I saw it, I don't agree.

When you create a hybrid, it is a hybrid. When you tinker with the genetics, it is not anything I want to eat. You slice and dice and rationalize all you want, I do not want ANY of their "science" on my plate. You can put whatever you like on your plate, but the notion that Monsatan is ABOVE THE LAW now really ought to make you stop and think about what you are defending.
There is not one farmer in America who is "confused" about what GMO means.

This is the article that got my posting privileges revoked:
http://bklim.newsvine.com/_news/2013/05/12/18212165-dr-stan-...

I never said any farmers were confused

Most farmers are focused ont he bottom line...period. In general they are in debt op to their ears and just scratching to make it by. At least the samller farmers with less than 1000AC to farm are struggling, and continue to do so, mostly because of their debt load. They'll plant anything that they think will help their bottom line.

Now, I am not attempting to defend Monsanto, I'm just pointing out that not everything they do is evil. At any rate, my point is that some forms of GMO are no more insidious than you run of the mill cross breeding, they just take a lot less time to achieve the result. Other forms are completely unnatural, and potentially very damaging, these are the ones that ANti-GMO should focus on.

Also fishy, I hate to say it, but the tone of your comment illustrates my point exactly. I hope you won';t take this personally, it is not a personal critique, but when you say "I don't want any of their "science" on my plate" it is very easy for someone to twist your words as anti-science in general, and use it to hurt the cause you are working for. I think you are aware that there are plenty of bad people in the world who will do this to you. One ill worded comment can set your cause back many years, you know it, now make sure you avoid it in the future

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

My opinion is mine, and I don't need to justify it.

I AM "anti science" when science is treated like religion.
When "science" can produce double blind long term placebo controlled studies of the multi-generational effects of the modification of the genes of our food supply, I will consider what they offer "science." Now, they offer me pablum parading as science. No thanks. I want to eat real food. Want it bad enough I'll grow my own. You eat what you want, you can be their lab rat. I do not consent. (Oh, there's the rub... they experiment on all of us without our consent....) Pure evil: Monsatan.

This is the article that got my posting privileges revoked:
http://bklim.newsvine.com/_news/2013/05/12/18212165-dr-stan-...

I am not asking you to justify anything.

I am simply pointing out that the way you make your argument matters. The way you are arguing (based on the tenor of your comment) will not work. When you make the arguement as you are making it against someone pro GMO you are likely to have just as much luck as a bible thumper has quoting scripture to an atheist during an arguement. It simply won't work. As for growing you own, that is great, I garden as well both as a hobby, and because i don't like what I see out of big ag. Keep in mind though, that if you approach the GMO arguement incorrectly you will be growing GMO whether you want to or not. Simply put the GMO crops will outcompete every heirloom variety available, and in time you'll be growing GMO whether you want to or not. A good boxer is much better at deflecting his opponents attacks than he is at actually landing his own punches, a good political debater must have similar skills or they'll lose before they even get a chance to win. Mine is not a critique of your position, only of how you present it.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois