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Monday, January 24, 2005

Truth, Science and Deus Ironicus

So folks are gearing up for next month's hearings on GMOs and P.E.I. agriculture.
"It's a controversial issue, and everyone has an opinion," says Mike Nabuurs, executive director of the [P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture].

"But we need to make sure that any decisions that affect farmers are based on truth and science. . . . Right now, GMOs are legal crops in Canada, approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency."

Nabuurs says it has yet to be proven that there is a market for non-GMO products.
He says most island crops are exported to the United States, where there are not the same anti-GMO restrictions as in Europe and some parts of Asia.

"If the P.E.I. government decides it want to seriously consider a GMO ban, it had better make darn good and sure those markets really do exist for the non-GMO products, enough to sustain producers who are currently making a living on GMO products."
Nice. Nabuurs gives that little spiel about basing decisions on truth and science, and then moves right on to the bits about GMOs being legal in Canada, and that it's not proven there's a market for non-GMO crops which takes him right to his real worry; that being that the Theocracy of Texas, Sacerdotal, Holy and Righteous Right Hand of God in the World
(formerly known as the United States of America), might not allow non-GMO crops to enter their dominions.Yep, it's all about truth and science.

Speaking of truth and science, leaving aside any ethical and medical issues having to do with the genetic modification of food plants and the human consumption of such, what concerns me most about GMOs is the possibility of single strains of crops being planted to exclusion of all others. What happens when organisms, whether they're diseases or pests, adapt to those crops' defences and there's a crop failure? Where do you go from there? Where's the diversity, where's the redundancy necessary to adapt to disaster?

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Anonymous said...

Ah, but John, there's sciene aplenty at work; it's just dismal science, that's all...

-not zee

MackJohnny said...

Dismal science = idiocy. Dismal science is overmixing pancake batter, or looking down the barrel of a gun while pulling the trigger. It's me trying to push this book off my desk with a string.

Anonymous said...

(Unfortunately) science is just as subject as any of our inventions. If for various reasons Mr. Nabuurs would like to deny that there are countries (including one, which in the midst of a famine, refused US GE food aid) which will not accept our GE crops, he is going to do so. I have never heard of anyone refusing food because it is non-GE, therefore, it seems that going GE free is a no lose situation. Then, i suppose being unique is in itself a risk.
As for the loss of diversity and safety in crops, this has been happening in traditional (non-organic) agriculture anyway, in GE crops it is just more devastating and inevitable. Ironically, GE technology is an effort to combat this very trend in industrial agriculture. Of course we need to start thinking backwards, where did we go wrong? not, how can we fix this with the same thinking that started it?


MackJohnny said...

Yeah, you're right in noting that the loss of diversity has been happening already -- I suppose it could be looked at as a function of the virtual shrinking of the world over the last hundred years or so, exacerbated by economic interests displaying various degrees of mcdonald's syndrome as a push towards standardization of product to maximize profit.

I think where we went wrong, in the misguided use of science (not in science itself), is in thinking of that standardization as being a necessary, even unavoidable, outcome of "better and better" communication and transportation technologies.

MackJohnny said...

p.s. Please tell me 'ha' stands for Hank Aaron.

Anonymous said...

sorry to disappoint, johnny, it stands for haida a.

MackJohnny said...