And in continuation of my last post... GMOs.
Genetically modified organisms. For consumption. The HORROR!
Actually, I strongly support GMOs for several reasons. First of all, I have no squick factor about eating something that's not "natural," in fact, I hope they come up with lab-grown meat soon. After all, pretty much nothing we eat is remotely close to it's original state unless you are a hunter, or a naturalist. Corn was originally a tiny grain, teosinte. Tomatoes? Bred to be bigger, meatier, and redder. In fact, most of the food we put in our mouths has about as much in common with their untampered ancestors as a pug has with a wolf.
But surely genetic modification is different!
Plant breeding is genetic modification. The only difference with GMO vs. heavy selective breeding is that GMO allows us to introduce gene combinations that we want, rather than waiting for them to appear at random. So if we want a papaya that won't get attacked by a certain fungal infection, and the fungal infection doesn't attack pineapples because the pineapples have a certain chemical in their skins, we don't have to wait for a random mutation in the papaya to protect it, we can simply make the papaya produce the pineapple chemical. Then, we can test the fruit and make sure it's safe and still tastes the same, and if it does, voila, problem solved.
We can genetically modify food so there's much less unusable waste, so it takes up less space, and so it has less impact on the environment. We can make it so it doesn't need pesticides or fungicides. We can even make it more nutritious and grow in poor soils or where there's not much water, so people in third world countries can grow them and thus fight famines.
The only reason we aren't already doing such wonderful things with GMOs is that they are all patented by the corporations that designed them, and what's more, those corporations program their plants with a "kill" gene that makes them die after a year and their seeds useless. As a result, farmers keep having to go back and buy more, which is good for the company but sucky for the farmers, and impossible for poor subsistence farmers.
So I love GMOs in theory, and I certainly wouldn't hesitate to eat a GMO crop-- they're pretty heavily tested before going to market. But what I think needs to change is the following:
1. Some government funding going from international food aid to developing GMOs that are nutritious, safe, and grow in extremely poor conditions-- and have no kill gene.
2. Require companies that develop kill gene GMOs to pay taxes to go to the above.
3. Regulate, regulate, regulate. Test everything. Not that they don't do this already, but it's still a good idea.
4. Encourage GMO companies to contribute to a pro-GMO public awareness campaign talking about safety etc. They'd do it in a heartbeat, I'm sure.
5. AS much as I hate to admit it... require GMO labeling. If there's GMOs in it, the consumer should know. It's only fair and it makes it look less sneaky and dishonest.
But regardless of the issues, I don't get the anti-GMO crowd. It's not going to kill you. In fact, it might be healthier for you. Get over it.