maize

So what’s wrong with tampering with vegetable seeds? Plenty, if it’s done wrong.

I’ve heard so many angry voices ranting against genetic breeding in plants and I always wondered what was the big deal? It seemed a great idea to breed a plant that would be filled with nutrition and grow easier than its forerunners. What harm could there be to develop a houseplant that was resistant to mealy bugs and white flies? Or maybe create vegetables with not only edible roots, but tasty, nourishing leaves and flowers, too. These seemed like very fine ideas to me. So I figured I’d check into what this battle was about a little further and share my findings just in case anyone else was wondering: what’s the big deal about genetic engineering in plants?

The concept sounds fine, but there are indeed some serious repercussions we have to watch that can come of genetic engineering in food crops. Perhaps if little farmers were to design the ideal crops with competition from each other for plants that would be good for the general public, genetic engineering would have delivered its potential in great products. But sadly, like so many other services and products today, the concept was hijacked by the monster, profiteers of big business and the engineering has been guided by greed rather than human or ecological welfare.

Just what does this mean for farmers? All across America farmers were teased into being sold cheap insecticides and crops that promised easy growing. Instead, once sold on the new products, competition vanished and the cheap prices soared with farmers being held captive. Additionally, instead of plants being bred for ease of growth and nutrition, they were bred into super-weeds that are hybridizing with crops where they are not wanted or are being carried by winds and native wildlife all over the country where they are difficult to eradicate.

So what does this matter to you and me? First look at the huge increase in the cost of fresh food we are seeing. Yes, some had to do with crop failure due to extreme weather conditions – whatever you believe caused them. But additionally, the rising cost of genetic seed, insecticides and battles against the newly emerging super-weeds is driving farmers’ production costs sky high. And shows up at the grocery store.

Another unknown that can happen when tinkering with plants immune systems is the potential of transferring that same immunity to dangerous pathogens. Fortunately, we haven’t seen any super-virus or insect epidemics…yet. But in the desperate scramble for money, it seems consequences are being ignored.

In short, profits appear to be overriding all morality and concern for the welfare of plants, wildlife and human beings in favor of mass production. Instead of breeding helpful and healthy plants, big companies, Monsanto being one of the most blatant, are interested only in ways to destroy diversification, engineer crops that will out-perform all others in terms of mass production, not intrinsic value or quality, so the few remaining crops are all trademark engineered by those who will then have a monopoly and control pricing on all food. This is already happening across the United States as farmers are unable to purchase natural seed, and research on competitive seed and insecticide products have all but died out.

Why should we be concerned about genetic engineering? It’s downright scary. The concepts and the science aren’t the problem. The danger resides in who is using them and how they are being used. Too many of these game-changing scientific sciences are controlled by powerful, profit-motivated companies that have no interest in using the technology for the welfare of life on this planet, but only for the power of earning higher profits. We keep assuming that government should protect us, but with all the deregulation of large corporations over the past 30 years, government has sold out any controls, and with technology, big business has spread across the planet with the world as their testing ground so no one government could exert control anymore.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how much our lives are being manipulated by the few. We make small earth-friendly efforts but continue to ignore the major movements. I can only hope that we, the common people, stop being lazy, stop being unwilling to face long term consequences, and stop allowing our own desire to ignore what is happening for what we want to believe is happening. We don’t have to be victims. We, the ordinary public CAN get up and form our own lobby. We can unite to do more than flash mob dancing at railroad stations now we have the power of the Internet. Okay, we will have to make a conscious effort here instead of allowing ourselves to be spoon-fed stories we want to hear even if they are devoid of truth. We need to educate ourselves – even if we don’t want to know we are being used and duped. The Internet allows us to create movements, maybe even rebellions by uniting over the world and saying “NO” to being fodder for the few money-making machines that are abusing scientific technologies like gene engineering. Recently, we’ve seen populations overthrow governments with the power of the Internet. It would be much easier to boycott the greedy guys or insist on changes to the basic products we consume – en masse. We could insist technology be used to benefit people and the world instead of the greed of the few.

That’s the big deal about genetic engineering I crops – as I see it. We are allowing the destruction of sustainable landscaping, farming, and possibly life on this planet. We might be endangering the length and quality of our own lives. If you are concerned that your health and welfare may be reduced to impersonal fodder for someone else’s money-making business machine, take a stand. We’ve allowed tobacco to destroy many lives and we buy defective products regularly yet do nothing. If we continue to stay ignorant and blindly consume whatever we are told, there will be no one to blame for the consequences other than ourselves.