|'They're invading us.'|
The fear of transgenic organisms and demonization of Monsanto Corporation have become deep-rooted, self-perpetuation psychosis which is going to be with us for a long, long time.
But the specific criticisms of transgenics seem completely baseless. I asked several of today's demonstrators why they opposed transgenics. 'They're damaging our health,' they told me; added another 'We're being invaded,' and 'They're manipulating our food.'
|'Because of love for life.'|
Transgenic methods are faster, more dramatic and less random - but not fundamentally different.
Do transgenic techniques have dangers? Sure, just like anything else, altho they're far outweighed by the technique's potential benefits for humans and the environment. And what the protesters were objecting to: coporate agriculture, loss of traditional biodiversity and the proliferation of unhealthy, processed foods, aren't caused by transgenics but by wider economic trends like globalization, monoculture agriculture and mass marketing. Transgenic crops may have accelerated those trends, but that's all.
|Free seeds now!|
|Eating ice cream. Transgenic or not, |
too much junk food is bad for you.
Tragically, the U.S. and other parts of the world are experiencing a wave of extintions: Bats, honeybees and many kinds of amphibians are going fast - and they're only the ones we've noticed. In the bees' case, at least, pesticides are a leading suspect.
|'Monsanto out of Colombia and the planet.'|
But transgenics make a wonderful enemy because the concept is new and strange and in Monsanto opponents have a great big corporate villain with a strange-sounding name to attack.
By groundlessly attacking transgenics, activists are depriving many millions of people, including perhaps malnourished children in Colombia's El Choco Department, of cheaper and sometimes healthier food. Take, in particular, the insane campaign against golden rice, a transgenic seed fortified with vitamin A, which has the potential to save the lives of millions poorly-nourished children the world over - if only anti-transgenics activists quit standing between kids and their health. Opponents of Golden Rice have blood on their hands, just as surely as do the paranoics who oppose a life-saving vaccination.
|'Yankee corn out of Colombia'|
Can anybody say air pollution? Deforestation? Fast food and sedentarianism? Smoking? Climate change? Malaria?
Sunday's New York Times contains this tremendous commentary about how, since the beginning of agriculture, humans have selected vegetables, including corn and potatoes, to make them sweeter and softer - and much less nutritious.
Transgenics and genetic manipulation have likely accelerated this trend, a case in point being the conversion of nutritious Indian corn into low-nutrition sweet corn. But transgenics probably offer the best way to put nutrients back into vegetables.
|Different kinds of potatoes, as well as corn, yucca and other fruits and vegetables in a Bogotá market. None of these are transgenic, but all undoubtedly have been genetically manipulated by farmers.|
|Danger - Monsanto.|
|'Out with Monsanto.'|
|Traditional seeds. 'Seeds are the real gold in life.'|
|'Do you know that your food could be poisoned?'|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours