The Evils Of Transgenics

Yesterday I mentioned The Angry Hippie‘s most recent podcast, Episode 30, where he partook in a conversation with Science Dude about transgenics. I eluded to the podcast inciting some questions, most of which are irrelevant now, after listening to it once again.

And like The Angry Hippie, I, too was under the impression transgenics or GMOs were a counter productive measure for making a buck at the expense of nature. And we, as humans, were merely trying to “force evolution.” Turns out my uninformed fear of something I so obviously didn’t understand was, at least, primarily unfounded.

Through example citation, Science Dude, makes mention of a bunch instances where transgenic technology could, either, benefit or “deter” life on this planet…

First was the benefit of something called “Golden Rice.” Through genetic manipulation scientists are able to “make” this rice “self-manufacture” pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene), hence the “golden” appearance, for the benefit of people in parts of the world who wouldn’t easily have access to a nutrient that prevents blindness. “A humanitarian project,” of sorts. It’s something plants produce on their own anyway. And isn’t something you’d use to, say, exploit another.

Science Dude even went so far as to say GMOs are not the most ideal solution, good on her. But in such a destructive world, manipulating genes to make a crop resistant to pests is a better solution than pesticides, for instance. If you work within reasonable limits it’s not as “evil” as I was thinking it is. By the way, putting genes of a fish into a tomato to prevent them from freezing doesn’t reside within those reasonable limits.

But, of course, with “the good” comes “the bad.” Science Dude went on to, briefly, mention a company that spends it’s time developing something I first read about in David McGowan’s book Derailing Democracy. He wrote about something he called, or was labelled as, a “Terminator Seed.” The seed will grow a plant, but it will produce sterile seeds, requiring a farmer to return to a seed vendor the next growing season to buy all new seeds again. Creating a dependancy between farmers and corporations. Is it any wonder where I got my unfavorable opinion?

I guess the most important aspect of this podcast, and their conversation on transgenics specifically, is the fact that I was exposed to a different view on genetic manipulation. And some were more favorable than certain alternatives.

I’m still not convinced we should be messing around with the natural world, in this way, but I understand the issues at stake a little better…