Altered food - why?

David B. Hedrick davidbhedrick at icx.net
Mon Apr 28 21:31:13 EST 1997


Hello:

        I rarely respond to rampages such as this, but yours was such a
mix of
truth and fiction that I felt a challenge.  

> > Why do we discuss the need of genetically altered food?

Is it important to you to limit the discussion?  

> > Is there anybody who thinks that we realy need it?

No, I don't feel an over-powering need to ingest genetically engineered
food.  I would like bananas and tomatoes that did not rot so quickly.  I
would like larger harvests for the same cost so that we could feed more
people.  I would like crops that were more resistant to insects so that
less pesticide could be used.  

> > In thousands of years of co-evolution wo+man and food developed
> > to the very best co-existing system!

Actually, we have been doing genetic manipulation since the beginning of
agriculture.  Wheat, corn, beans, tomatoes, all of them are the result
of breeding experiments.  They are not found in the wild, except for a
few short-lived individuals from lost seed.  We are now just applying a
new technology to old problems.  

> > For those who didn't know :
> > WE DO HAVE PLANT AND ANIMALS ON EARTH - YOU CAN EAT IT! WHOW!

This was un-necessary and rude.  Does it help you make your point?  

> > But millions of people suffer from hunger - millions of children die of
> hunger.
> > They are NOT working on GEN-TECHNOLOGY and they do not die because they
> didn't
> > get their genetically manipulated WONDER-meal!

I doubt that the starving would be concerned whether food is genetically
engineered.  There is much land in the world which is too salty to grow
most crops.  Some of this, such as in parts of southern California, is
due to years of irrigation.  There is much work right now on genetically
engineering crops to grow on this unusable land.  We could make a
calcualation of how much wheat could be produced from such land, and how
many people it would feed.  

> > There is NO HOPE for these people in genetically altered food.

Who are you angry at?  

> > Genetically altered food has been DESIGNED to use existing herbicids and
> > insecticids (and other killing additives) in industrial agriculture more
> freely!

Finally, an almost reasonable point.  The major agribusiness companies
do try to sell as much of their products as they can, sometimes to the
detriment of our soil and water, and to productivity.  And this is being
responded to.  A cheat like that only works for so long.  The US
government is funding research on reducing fertilizer and pesticide
usage, to make farming more profitable and protect the environment. 
This is important, and policing big business must be done, but venting
your spleen only makes your points seem foolish, and the job of making
the points you messed up harder.  

> > So we have nice plants resistant against herbicids so that the farmer can
> spray
> > much more poisson on his corn field than he did before (Don't worry your
> > genetically wonder corn will resist all the poisson - those eatin' the
> > crob too?).

Herbicides are useful because they kill plants, not animals.  While more
testing needs to be done to ensure the safety of such products, much has
already been done.  This is hardly a crisis.  In greater danger than the
consumer of the food is the applicator of the pesticides.  

> > The harvest will be enormous and the meat production will be much cheaper
> > because corn will be cheaper too.
> > What is all this stuff for? Why does nobody want to enable the
> underdeveloped
> > countries to produce food for men and beast on their own?

If food is cheaper, wouldn't fewer people starve?  

> > It is only the mighty 'white' man (wearing white clothes in the lab)
> being so
> > clever - having all this technology to produce the GOOD things.

Is it so terrible the us guys (and gals, by the way, and we are not all
white) in white coats are so clever?  You don't seem to mind it when you
take your antibiotics.  

> > IMHO there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to produce genetically altered food!

When did you suddenly become humble?  You have ranted on in the most
insulting way about things you don't seem to know very much about.  

> > The problems of humanity in this fading century will not be solved by
> this
> > method but many unknown dangers MAY (I said MAY!) occur and billards of
> $$ will
> > be wasted on sophisticated techniques nobody realy needs.

Genetic engineering of food is only part of the solution to some of our
problems.  

> > Even if genetics tell us the opposite why are they so sure?
> > - They are all looking for grants and they believe in technology - just
> like
> > those people who build the atomic bombs (but they even believed in god -
> crazy).

Your point is becoming more and more elusive.  At the time the atom bomb
was developed, we in a desperate war with the Germans and the Japanese. 
It was quite possible that the Germans could have gotten the bomb first,
they had a head start.  Of course, hindsight shows us that they had
abandoned "Jewish" relativity, but that is not relevant to their
situation then.  How many hundreds of thousands of American soldiers
survived the war because we did not have to take the Japanese home
islands?  

> > So here I wait for the one telling me how wrong I am!

I guess that's me.  

I'm going to get off the net, now.  I'm beginning a project on improving
the utilization of phosphate by crops.  I'm one of those guys in white
coats.  I, and most of us, are motivated by interesting puzzles and the
search for truth.  

I ask again, who are you angry at?  Do you know any scientists?  Where
do you get such a terrible image of us?  Believe it or not, I have never
seen a scientist eat a baby.  

You have a rather ugly mind.  

-- 
                ~DBH

Technical writing, literature search, and data analysis at the interface
of chemistry and biology. 

        davidbhedrick at icx.com

        David B. Hedrick
        P.O. Box 16082
        Knoxville, TN 37996



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