Fia wrote:I have 2 problems with GM, as others have mentioned: the likes of Monsanto...
Agreed. There is danger in letting many things be controlled by a few whose interests may not coincide with everyone else's.
and a possibly irrational feeling that humans mucking about with mixing genetics is a different kettle of fish to how the flora and fauna of our planet do. There’s no natural way a jellyfish gene could enter a seed so it doesn’t freeze. This makes me feel very uncomfortable.
This is the ick factor and, although I can see it, I am feeling that I have to reject it on rational grounds. (I can see analogies with, say, evangelical xtians wanting to reject homosexuality on ick grounds.)
I didn't do biology at school. I was at a BHA conference many moons ago where it came as a revelation to me that the chemicals that make up DNA/RNA in plants, jellyfish and everything else were made up of exactly
the same chemicals as in humans. We are all just strings of A, C, G or T nucleic acids - ours are just in a different order (OK, with varying numbers as well). What GMO chemists are doing is modifying them. At that dispassionate level, I can't see that it should have the ick factor.
Now, there may well be things that could go wrong. Maybe there are unintended consequences. But I can't help feeling we could be focussing on those and how any particular modification could be tested to give us a good reassurance that it will be safe. It can never be 100% safe, of course, but neither can the latest insecticide, etc. They are no doubt tested as stringently as regulatory bodies feel they need to be before being let loose on the environment. Some of these turn out to be safe if used correctly and some don't. We learn from that, but we will never produce one that we know will be 100% safe.
How we achieve this reassurance, I have no idea. But that is separate from whether we create the GMOs in the first place to solve particular problem.
And there I see the other issue: do we need them and what modifications are beneficial to humanity as a whole, rather than just to Monsanto or whoever?
I am now seeing these more clearly as separate questions.
Apart from population control which is clearly a huge issue, I think we need to start at local, rather than global, options. In our affluence there is much mileage in simplicity. We have just started a community herb garden in a council plot, and are in talks with the council about changing some flowerbeds to community vegetable ones. We’re producing info on recognition and recipes, and working with the local school. Seed bombing is growing
Reminding folk where their food comes from, so they think twice about buying out of season produce with huge airmiles.
The way we eat and the way many others don't is unsustainable. Enough for everyone's need, but not for their greed. I see the likes of Monsanto applying greed to the issue of feeding the world and despair.
Sustainability is certainly a big issue and certainly overlaps the GMO issue, but can anyone convince me that GMOs are not inherently evil per se
- it's how we use them and control their use that's important, isn't it?