Monday, May 3, 2010

Genetically Modified Crops

There is a lot of discussion about the use of genetically modified crops in agriculture. Many arguments can be made for and against their use. Most of the articles I have read focus on the cons of the use of GMOs, so I was fairly suprised to read a recent article that not only condoned their use, but praised them.

The article "Supreme court hears arguments on genetically modified seeds, local farmers offer their opinions" by Aaron Krause claims to have testimonies not only from Monsanto, but also from local farmers about the benefits of using GMOs. Geertson Seed Farm posed some of the normal arguments against GMOs, including cross-contamination of their organic plants from nearby farms using a patented GMO. These fears were deemed "unwarranted" and "unlikely" by Monsanto and agriculture possible with GMOs was described as sustainable. Local farmers even chimed in remarking on the decreased need for pesticides due to biological resistance built in to the genetially modified crop.

Arguments have been made for the opposing side, of course. The movie Food, Inc. shows the exploitation of small, local farmers by large companies like Monsanto. Something not discussed in this article was the idea that GMOs can be patented. Big companies sell their patented GMO to various farmers and can enforce by law that these seeds are not saved and used again. This has caused controversy with farmers who administer seed cleaning equipment, because Monsanto has filed lawsuits against them because they make it easier to save and reuse seeds. With the possibility of patents for GMOs, it makes it easier for big companies to take over the agricultural business and turn it into an oligarchy.

Both sides can be argued and all points are valid. It is difficult to declare a real winner. Perhaps the problem isn't the introduction of GMOs, but rather the way in which we are using them. The idea of patenting has to be sorted out so that it doesn't allow the take over of Monsanto and similar companies. There is no question that these GMOs have benefits, so it is up to us to figure out how they can be used to the greatest advantage without being so controversial.

1 comment:

  1. I am the last person to decry anyone who has made food a pillar of their lives. I cook professionally. As a journalist, I cover food safety and sustainability. As a food writer, I write about cooking. Clearly, food is something about which I am passionate