Some time last evening Little Miss sunshine and myself embarked upon the great debate of GM Foods. Not knowing a great deal about this subject other than the panic headlines I was only able to argue that GM foods should be labelled to give people a choice as to whether they buy or consume them. LMS decided that as every thing had genetically modified since the invention of cross breeding to improve live stock this was not necessary but mere scaremongering by the press. So I have spent some time on the Greenpeace website, a UK government web site, the World Health Organisation website and a couple of other officially sanctioned bodies to try and make some sense of it all.
Admittedly GM foods have had a bad press although I did not understand why. If cross breeding was such a good idea why were so many people afraid of GM? Well from the limited research that I have done it would appear that cross breeding within a species such as that performed to create Shire horses extends much further than cross breeding within a single species. I did not know that tomatoes had been cross bred with fish to give them a redder colour. I also understand that some tomato seeds have been created after genetic modification with other animals to give them a longer shelf life.
This to me defies the cross breeding and selective breeding such as performed by race horse owners. They do not try and cross a horse with a say an ear of corn. The New Scientist Magazine, a respected periodical with a great heritage has reported GM crops bred to withstand massive doses of insecticide to wipe out crop eating bugs has resulted in super bugs able to withstand all but the most severe of insecticides (those that are dangerous to humans). This has meant that the super bugs are now capable of destroying far much more than before the introduction of GM crops.
This has also raised the issue of cloning rather than natural selection. If all crops are cloned to be exact replicas of each other after some one has decided that is as good as they are ever going to be then all foods will be identical no matter where in the world you are. Local tomatoes will taste the same in Brazil as in Spain as will corn and coffee. It raises the spectre of potatoes such as jersey royals or King Edwards being replaced with genetically modified crops that will be grown the world over and we don’t know what animal DNA they have been crossed with.
I now understand the headlines such as Frankenfoods that have screamed at us from the daily tabloids. Pollination of one type of rose with another seems ok to me as this would happen in the wild anyway due to the way seeds are blown about and bees pollinate anything in their path. Crossing them with snake venom and fish DNA to make them last longer and give a deeper due of colour does not seem natural at all.
It is little wonder then that the Monsanto website does not contain as much information about GM as the Lancet or Greenpeace. I may not understand all there is to know about GM foods but I have discovered that Monsanto and Synergen are not donating any money to food agencies around the world but instead offering tons of GM seed crops giving agencies no option but to feed millions with no choice on GM foods. Happily the US government thinks this is OK. At least for now at least I know I want nothing to do with GM food or crop seeds. LMS may have tried to convert me but she has me joining the ranks of Greenpeace and wholeheartedly condemning the introduction and use of cross species GM foods. Enjoy your supper.