Thursday, April 21, 2005

Are you aware Organic foods are GM foods?

'GM' stands for Genetically Modified, meaning a plant or animal which has had it's genes artificially modified from it's original. One way of modifying genes is to change DNA manually, then breed the plant or animal with the new genes. That's a new way. A much older way of doing the same thing is to wait for changes in DNA to occur by chance, then breed the plant or animal with the new genes.

Practically everything we eat, our pets, the fibers in our textiles, all are GM products using this older method. Brussel sprouts, for example, didn't exist before 1500. Orange carrots were invented by the Dutch in the 1600s (as a fashion statement, no less). Wheat and corn were originally grass, not very different than lawn grass (which are also GM creations from original wild grass). Through a long process of genetic modification, natural grasses were turned into an artificial food that's lost it's ability to re-produce in the wild. Wheat and corn husks were modified to not let go of seeds (grain) without artificial processing.

Some have noted an anachronism in the Lord of the Rings movies, that tomatoes were a New World food. But it was actually a double anachronism because Tomatoes are actually a New World berry which was the size of a pea in it's natural form, but which had been genetically modified to grow many times it's natural size to become the tomatoes we think of today.

Every breed of dog is a GM product, a modification of the original wolf. I guess you could say every chiuaua, or beagle, or pit bull is a Franken-wolf.

This older process of genetic modification also hazardous, too. Because it relies on random chance, trial and error, one can never be totally sure of the results. Dog owners know well the problems with some breeds of dogs which make them dangerous, but that's just as true of foods. Potatoes were created out of a variety of deadly nightshade, and were originally poisonous. Even today, some new varieties of potatoes developed using the old methods are rejected by the FDA, because that genetic modification technique allowed heightened levels of that original toxin production to re-emerge.

Also like today, 17th century European consumers were overly skeptical of that GM product from the new world, the potato, because they too feared the Americans of that time didn't apply enough care in their GM science. But once they got over that, potatoes became a staple food. Today it's America's most commonly eaten vegetable.

Fact is, produce bought at the organic market is just as artificial and just as genetically modified as anything else being produced today. Modifying DNA to make something better isn't science fiction, or even something new. It's very very old. Older than history itself... Maybe even as old as the fear of new things.


At 7:33 PM, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

We've just gotten better at it. And the proof is in the pudding that Europe is pretty Luddite, compared to the US. So much for Utopia, eh.


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