Tag Archives: genetically modified crops

Tim Morton: “Ain’t Natural” Ain’t Reasonable

21 Jul

From Timothy Morton. The Ecological Thought. Harvard UP 2010.

Here’s a tricky passage, p. 86:

Okay, deep breath—it just isn’t right to criticize genetic engineering as unnatural, as if decent people should ban horses, dogs and cats, wheat and barley. It isn’t sound to call “technological” gene manipulation wrong, as if stud farming wasn’t technical manipulation. Crossbreeding is a form of technology. Fields and ditches are technology. Apes with termite sticks are technological. And what is barley if not a queer plant? Biological beings are all queer. All food is Frankenfood. The ecological thought might argue, provocatively I know, that genetic engineering is simply doing consciously what was once unconscious. My DNA can be told to produce viruses—that’s how viruses replicate. There isn’t a little picture of me in my DNA: hence the swine flue, which evolved from viruses affecting three different species. Genomics can use a virus to tell bacterial DNA to make plastic rather than bacteria.

So for so good. I think.

The assertion “it’s unnatural and therefore wrong” is loaded with ideological freight and thus fraught with risk of self-contradiction. Just what about us humans and our ways IS natural, anyhow? Fruit may grow on trees, but loin cloths, no matter what they’re made of, the DON’T grow on trees, or anywhere else. We make them out of stuff of one kind or another. They are un-natural. But not wearing one—or a similar garment—is generally considered to be a bit too, um, err, natural. Continue reading

Superweeds: A Long-Predicted Problem for GM Crops Has Arrived – Marion Nestle – Health – The Atlantic

16 May

I was a member of the FDA Food Advisory Committee when the agency approved production of genetically modified foods in the early 1990s.

At the time, critics repeatedly warned that widespread planting of GM crops modified to resist Monsanto’s weed-killer, Roundup, were highly likely to select for “superweeds” that could withstand treatment with Roundup….

Today, the idea that planting of GM crops is “widespread” is an understatement.

So, according to Reuters, is Roundup resistance.

“Weed resistance has spread to more than 12 million U.S. acres and primarily afflicts key agricultural areas in the U.S. Southeast and the corn and soybean growing areas of the Midwest.

“Many of the worst weeds, some of which grow more than six feet and can sharply reduce crop yields, have become resistant to the popular glyphosate-based weed-killer Roundup, as well as other common herbicides.”

This is not a trivial problem….How is the chemical industry responding to this threat? Zap it harder!

The industry is pressing the U.S. and Canadian governments to approve GM corn engineered to resist 2,4-D.

Remember 2,4-D? It was the principal ingredient in Agent Orange, the defoliant used during the Vietnam War.

Some people never learn, do they?

via Superweeds: A Long-Predicted Problem for GM Crops Has Arrived – Marion Nestle – Health – The Atlantic.

300,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto in Federal Court: Decision on March 31st to Go to Trial | NationofChange

13 Feb

Hun­dreds of cit­i­zens, (even in­clud­ing NYC chefs in their white chef hats) joined Oc­cupy the Food Sys­tem groups, ie Food Democ­racy Now, gath­ered out­side the Fed­eral Courts in Man­hat­tan on Jan­u­ary 31st, to sup­port or­ganic fam­ily farm­ers in their land­mark law­suit against Big Agribusi­ness giant Mon­santo. (Or­ganic Seed Grow­ers & Trade As­so­ci­a­tion v. Mon­santo) Oral ar­gu­ments were heard that day con­cern­ing the law­suit by 83 plain­tiffs rep­re­sent­ing over 300,000 or­ganic farm­ers, or­ganic seed grow­ers, and or­ganic seed busi­nesses.

The law­suit ad­dresses the bizarre and shock­ing issue of Mon­santo ha­rass­ing and threat­en­ing or­ganic farm­ers with law­suits of “patent in­fringe­ment” if any or­ganic farmer ends up with any trace amount of GM seeds on their or­ganic farm­land.

via 300,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto in Federal Court: Decision on March 31st to Go to Trial | NationofChange.