Genetic Engineering of Plants
In the New York Times today (06/11/2010, page A11) John Tagliabue reported on the controversy of the genetic engineering of plants in Sweden. At issue was an engineered potato rich in starch. What one Swedish farmer said was very interesting. Let me quote from his article:
[The farmer, Anders Lunneryd] objects to genetically modified foods, for their complexity and the control they give to big corporations. The genetic codes, he said, “are like a piano keyboard, but going four times around the planet earth, and now you’re going to play that piano?”
“And it’s even more complex,” he said, “because you’re playing in an orchestra.”
He compares biotech crops in farming to performance-enhancing drugs in sports. “In the short run, it enhances your performance,” he said. “In the long run, you get sick from it.”
Another farmer hypothesized that genetic engineering has something to do with the disappearance of bees. All these sentiments are unproven, but “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Look at how many genetic defects Dolly, the cloned sheep had. Cloning by-passed the natural reproduction of sheep and it turned out that every cell in the baby sheep was as old as the sheep it had been cloned from. Gregor Mendel used seeds that had a certain trait and so developed strains, as farmers have done in the past. It could well be problematic that we splice and patch the genetic code itself. Wouldn’t caution and public debate be advisable? Here’s the question: Why has Europe forbidden the introduction of these crops for 25 years and finally allowed this one potato, while our engineered crops were introduced without public debate? That speaks of a remarkable corporate control of the American mind.