City of Roses
|In recent times, one of the most serious issues also remains one of the least publicly known and recognized; the cultivation of GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms)
GM is a special set of technologies that alter the genetic makeup of such living organisms as animals, plants, or bacteria. Biotechnology, a more general term, refers to using living organisms or their components, such as enzymes, to make products that include wine, cheese, beer, and yogurt.
In 2003, about 167 million acres (67.7 million hectares) grown by 7 million farmers in 18 countries were planted with transgenic crops, the principal ones being herbicide- and insecticide-resistant soybeans, corn, cotton, and canola. Other crops grown commercially or field-tested are a sweet potato resistant to a virus that could decimate most of the African harvest, rice with increased iron and vitamins that may alleviate chronic malnutrition in Asian countries, and a variety of plants able to survive weather extremes.
In 2003, countries that grew 99% of the global transgenic crops were the United States (63%), Argentina (21%), Canada (6%), Brazil (4%), and China (4%), and South Africa (1%). Although growth is expected to plateau in industrialized countries, it is increasing in developing countries. The next decade will see exponential progress in GM product development as researchers gain increasing and unprecedented access to genomic resources that are applicable to organisms beyond the scope of individual projects.
Those in favor of GMO's believe this sort of cultivation will improve the quality, abundance and freshness of crops, and with the application of a genetic makeover, vegetables can be grown with additional vitamins, minerals and other benefits.
It may sound charming to you upon first impression.
However, some disagree, and find there to be a dark side to it.
Recently, Mendocino County in California passed its historic Measure H, abd with 57% of the votes cast, it became the first county in the United States to ban the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). More recently, Trinidad and Marin Counties, also in California, have passed similar bans, with Sonoma County soon to do the same. And similar measures are up for consideration in Oregon and Vermont.
Perhaps there is simply one big reason they have every right to be suspicious.
On January 24 of this year, Biotech giant Monsanto announced it is purchasing Seminis, the world's biggest produce-seed company. The $1 billion purchase is seen as a sign that Monsanto plans to eventually expand into growing genetically engineered vegetables and fruit. Seminis controls about one-third of the seeds used to grow fruits and vegetables found in the country's supermarkets.
In response to this, two writers of Oregon-based Alternatives Magazine had these strong opinions to say:
1) David Tomsic argues that no one should have to be force-fed genetically-modified food, and that GMO's could have untold massive damage on the world's health in his article, "GMO's Begone!".
2) Alex Beamer argues the extreme dangers of cross-pollenation among GMO cultivation in "Wat Culd Go Rong?"
Another primary argument is that no one should have to be force-fed genetically-grown food for those who have a preference in shopping organic at Wild Oats, Trader Joes or Alfalfa's.
So, could GMO's truly be a miracle for agriculture in the future, or is it a Pandora's Box on traditional and organic farming?
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"