Citing Monsanto is Lazy and Ignorant

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m pro-GMO. I laud genetic engineering across my social media platforms. I subscribe to the Genetic Literacy Project, and I have a major girl crushes on SciBabe and Kavin Senapathy. I think genetic engineering and gene editing have tremendous potential in food production, whether it’s to combat diseases and pests without of the use of controversial pesticides and/or to make our food more nutritious.

Naturally, my boastful nature means I have a tendency to ‘vomit’ these crops’ virtues on message boards and threads full of anti-GMO sentiments. And, these arguments receive a tremendous amount of pushback (thankfully, no actual harassment). I’m often accused of working for <insert biotechnology or seed company here> or having monetary interests in the furthering of genetic engineering. If that were true, I wouldn’t be scrambling for government benefits and would be dressing my son in BabyGap, instead of second-hand onesies. Of course, I’ve been told that a specific seed/chemical company (guess who…) is The Devil, and if I would just use the Google, I would find out all kinds of nasty information relating to Agent Orange and other conspiracy theories related to farmer mind control.

First, let’s address Agent Orange. This nasty chemical was, indeed, manufactured by Monsanto Co. and Dow Chemical Co., but recall the body that requested this chemical for nefarious reasons. It wasn’t either corporate entity; it was the United States government. It wasn’t a corporate entity that decided to use this chemical during a war in Vietnam. It was the United States government. So, perhaps your blame is misplaced. Perhaps, the blame should be placed on imperialistic foreign policies. Just a thought…

Let’s also address the inherent laziness of citing Monsanto Co. as the harbinger of doom. The anti-GMO argument always includes some bullshit about glyphosate and glyphosate resistance, even though this technology has been used for over two decades. This technology is old. It’s older than your Motorola Razr. And, it’s boring.

Anyone that follows developments in biotechnology understands that the most innovative research surrounding genetic engineering occurs at public universities – with little to no affiliation with seed companies:

  • Brown laying hens have been genetically engineered to stop the spread of avian influenza, and this research was conducted at the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh. Read more here.
  • Golden rice, the alleged saviour of critical nutritional deficiencies in the third world, was developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology1.
  • Genetically engineered Holsteins, which are born without horns, therefore eliminating the need for painful dehorning, are being developed and tested at the University of California, Davis2.
  • Genetically modified limes, which contain higher levels of anthocyanins and present with purple flesh, were developed at the University of Florida3
  • Research into combatting citrus greening disease, a devastating problem in orange groves across Florida, is also being conducted at the aforementioned university4.

Recently commercialized genetically modified organisms are not the result of tinkering in Monsanto Co.’s laboratories:

  • The Arctic Apple was developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., a small Canadian company5.
  • Genetically modified potatoes, which resist bruising and producer fewer acrylamides (a known carcinogen) during cooking, were devoped by J.R. Simplot Company6.
  • The AquAdvantage salmon, which uses feed more efficiently, was developed by AquaBounty Technologies7.

Those, who continue to cite Monsanto Co. as the sole producer of genetically modified organisms, as the sole player in biotechnology in the food industry, are those failing to conduct any research. They exhibit grave ignorance and severe misunderstanding of food production, food policy, and basic scientific principle.

Perhaps, it’s this group that needs to learn to use the magical Google machine.

 

References:

  1. http://www.goldenrice.org/Content1-Who/who.php
  2. http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article50822850.html
  3. http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2016/01/purple-limes-and-blood-oranges-could-be-next-for-florida-citrus/
  4. http://news.ufl.edu/articles/2015/11/uf-creates-trees-with-enhanced-resistance-to-greening.php
  5. http://www.arcticapples.com/
  6. http://www.innatepotatoes.com/
  7. https://aquabounty.com/sustainable/