Lets start there.
What is a GMO?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Organisms that have been genetically modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, insects, plants, fish, and mammals. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods, and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food.
Altered using genetic engineering techniques. Let's ponder that for a second.
Isn't that what nature does now? Yes, nature does that. Plants interact, pollen is spread, as is genetic material, by natural means. Two organisms mate, reproduce and each time there is some genetic modification that occurs. Over time, that changes the nature of how things evolve. According to Darwinism, the strong will survive and flourish and the weak will become extinct.
In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense – not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.
Some would called Darwinism another form of social evolution. Survival of the fittest. In any case, it presumes that all factors are due to nature and man does not directly create the change by overt means. We know this has never been true, but for the most part it is presumed. We don't replant seeds from inferior plants. In that way we are altering mother natures way. But we also didn't used to take those inferior plants and alter their DNA so that they would serve our means. That is the distinction.
Over the course of time, that has worked well. There has never been a shortage of food in the world, unless man or beast over populates and creates that situation. Food does not become extinct. Man and beast do. Nature brings this back into harmony by not providing for overpopulation while still maintaining the correct amount of food. The strong survive, the weak perish and harmony returns. By trying to maintain the weak by altering the chemistry of the food supply, we go against Darwinism and attempt to circumvent the way nature works. Anytime we do that, there are likely to be grave consequences.
Generally speaking, I think most people are not in favor of GMO's. We just get an uneasy feeling when we know that man is trying to conquer nature. History has taught us that will backfire most of the time.
The thought that we are tampering with the food supply, the most basic of things to maintain life, just sounds like something that is going to come back to haunt man in a big way.
Make no mistake, GMO's do have some upside. They do provide us with the means to have bigger harvests and sustain a larger population over the short term. That isn't the motivation for why the big conglomerates like Monsanto and Dupont promote them. They are just in it for the money at all costs. We all get that. That is part of the reason it makes us feel uneasy. We don't have any confidence that they will do the right thing for the sake of society and man. Their decisions are based on greed. If it makes them more money, then that is the overriding principle. We saw that with the way they handled DDT and PCB's, among other very harmful products. They have a long history (as do most conglomerates) of covering up the truth for as long as possible to maintain the profit margin (see the cigarette companies for many examples).
Maybe the GMO's are the best things ever. Maybe they are progress. Maybe they are not. Only time will tell. The real question is this: What if they are not?
Will those who didn't want them to be the be-all and end-all solution of all our food problems have to suffer for that anyway?
Let's examine why they have become so popular in the first place. There has to be a reason.
What is the basic underlying principle that drives farmers to use GMO's? Seeds that are engineered to withstand insects and rot sounds like a good thing. But with any upside there are likely to be drawbacks. Crops that die naturally are probably inferior and carry some sort of genetic disease from the mutations caused in cross pollination. Nature takes care of that by encouraging us not to replant their seeds. That is just common sense. If we then take those seeds and modify them, sure, they will likely grow well. But they likely also have a huge downside. One we don't realize or understand yet. Much like PCB's and DDT sounded great when they helped us make stuff better and fight wars..until they caused cancer at an alarming rate 20 years later and had to be banned.
But we are talking about food here, not plastic. If we destroy the food chain and supply that surely means extinction at some point for humans.
All that being said, it should be up to each individual person to decide for themselves. If you want to risk your life and health--and the future of your offpsring--then I don't have any problem with that. As long as I have the choice not to, so be it. As long as viable options are maintained, then the information and choice remains mine and yours. Freedom of speech and choice are maintained. That is where it all seems to be breaking down for most.
When I think about the issue in this way, my first thought is of cult like societies like the Mennonites.
When you grow up in a Mennonite community, there is only one way of life and one theory of how you are taught. Brainwashing starts early and it consistent. You are sheltered from the world at large and making informed decisions is something that is taken away from you for as long as it can be.
The first example of this is something I always think of when I see the Mennonites anywhere. They don't use motorized vehicles to get around. In fact, they shun all modern technology. That includes phones, televisions, radios and cars.
If you live anywhere near Mennonites you would know that they travel by horse and carriage.
For most in society, the invention of the car was a true revolution in how society was allowed to move forward. That was followed by the invention of airplanes. For Mennonites, they simply don't believe in using these technologies. That is certainly their choice to make. But is it the choice their children want? Do their children even know that it is an option? Certainly they can see airplanes in the sky and cars on the road. But are they really able to live the life they have now and make these options available to themselves?
The answer is no. They are not.
Now back to the GMO's.
Many could argue that automobiles and all the trouble they cause are not worth the benefits. I would not be one of those, but it is my choice to make. As it is yours. You should have a choice and you should know what you are choosing from.
I know that many have an issue with the way Mennonites live their lives. I don't. If people want to live a certain way and that does not harm others, I am all in favor of that. The problem I have with them is that they attempt to brainwash those they raise and shun others who wont conform. They really give the society member very little choice or option. That is where I take issue.
You could argue, that on some level our society does this as well. And that is true. However, for the most part, every member of society has full access to information. That cannot be said of the children of Mennonites. That is where I make the distinction.
That is also where I take issue with Monsanto. If they want to create GMO's, fine do that. But I should have a reasonable option to that and if they do things to make sure I do not, then they are infringing on my rights and freedoms.
The biggest issue with the GMO's is the lack of choice that people are going to end up having if the companies like Monsanto get their way. They are not just taking away our choices they attempt to take away our freedom for the sake of profits. In the same way that the Cigarette companies lied and didn't give the smokers the true facts of how addictive and harmful their products were, we can't trust Monsanto and others like them to give us the facts as they see fit while they destroy the food supply in the meantime. We should have the true facts and make sure that all are informed so they can make the decisions they see fit..with the proper information to do that with.
Currently, that is not the case. Just as it isn't with kids in a Mennonite community.
The day we allow a Monsanto or Dupont to have complete control of the food supply to the point we have no choice but to eat GMO's to survive we are basically signing our own death warrants as a species. I am all for choice. But choice means everybody has a choice, not just those with the power to influence. Progress is a great thing. But there is no progress if the choice to abstain is taken away for those who don't believe it is progress.
That is where we are at today.