January 29, 2008

Crossing a Fish With a Strawberry and Other Tales of Genetic Engineering

The clementine, the mule, the liger...all fascinating feats of genetic recombinations! They've even tried combining a strawberry with an artic flounder to produce a berry more capable of surviving frost. (Didn't work. Shucks.)

But by and large, the most widespread use of genetic twister games are happening in crops to be able to withstand pesticides. Makes sense, right? Farmers who buy genetically modified seeds from the biotech giants can buy corresponding high-powered pesticides (from the same biotech company, which is good business sense) that will kill everything AROUND their crops, but leave the crops themselves unharmed. In addition to questionable food quality, this technique encourages irresponsible use of pesticides. Why not give the field any extra-heavy spray if it won't hurt the crops you're selling? Who cares about the runoff into the water supply? Or the chemicals that make their way to Americans' dinner plates? And genetically modified foods are surely safe...right?

There are more acres of genetically engineered soybeans than any other crop. Corn comes next. That's your tofu, soy milk, soy oil, lecithin emulsifiers, corn oil, corn syrup, corn starch, corn flour, etc. found in foods you likely eat every day.

The government certainly doesn't require food to be labeled if it contains GMO/GEO (Genetically Modified/Engineered Organisms) so look instead for "Non-GMO" labels. Buying organic corn or soy means it was grown without pesticides so you are probably safe there too.

Jeez! Who knew? I didn't until I read The Food Revolution by John Robbins, which is where the info all comes from. He's got it all footnoted and cross referenced so check it out.


SavingDiva said...

I've been trying to make the switch to organic produce. I'm really concentrating on switching vegetables that have thin or no skins (lettuce, apples, cucumbers), but I'm less concerned about things like citrus since I don't eat the outer layer. After reading your post, I feel like I should make sure everything I purchase is organic to avoid supporting excessive pesticide use.

Char Lyn said...

NPR did a great story on Roundup-ready crops. Seems the weeds have developed a resistance to the herbicide and farmers are having to change this biowarfare practice. Leave it to evolution to force the laziness out of us.

Michelle said...

Oh cool, I'll definitely have me a listen to that. Wonder what they'll come up with next. It's big business, so I'm sure they won't just give up to nature.