on Frankenfood

For one thing, the “feed the world” rhetoric is a gigantic, lolloping lie – the companies that are doing this are in it for the money, and if the world can’t pay, they’ll cheerfully let it starve: witness practices like suing a farmer when pollen from their GM fields blows over onto and contaminates his crops (Percy Schmeiser is the documented case I know about, and there are conflicting reports on that). I also read somewhere (I wish I could remember to keep tabs on these things so I can cite my sources) that when farmers buy the seeds, they are entitled to keep the plants that grow from them, but any seeds they harvest have to be returned to the company they bought the originals from, so they have to buy new seed every year. The gift that keeps on costing.

Shortly after we moved here there was a lot of shouting because European governments insisted that GM food be labeled so consumers could choose, and some American puppet-head (I think he was from the USDA) said it wasn’t about fear of Frankenfood, they were just being anti-American (DrBob says he agrees: telling people what’s really going on is un-American). Guardian editorial here.

And unscientific! You read the pro-GM rhetoric, it’s all about science, science, science, but here’s the thing: I don’t necessarily believe something is true just because a scientist said it. Particularly if I know he or she’s been paid a lot of money to say it. I don’t really trust GM food, it’s potentially dangerous and I don’t think it’s been studied long enough to understand its long-term effects. How long would be long enough, I can’t say, because no matter what results they got, the people who produce and market it have too much at stake to tell the truth.

I bring this up now because I was reading this Guardian article about cloning meat animals today, and the last paragraph said:

GM crops had a similar trajectory. Transgenic crops – that is those whose makeup has been altered through the transfer of genes from other breeds – have now spread through the US like a spider’s web. About 90% of the soya bean crop and 80% of corn is now transgenic, while about a half of all cheese consumed is made with enzymes produced by genetically modified bacteria. Those are statistics that give Viagen’s Walton added hope that consumer resistance to cloning will now similarly be overcome: “There’s not a consumer in America today who doesn’t end up buying some transgenic food,” he says. “So the fact is that what people tell you in the polls and what they actually do in the supermarket are two very different things”.

I find this horrifying, because I would bet money that these people don’t actually know that they’re buying transgenic food. Consumers’ resistance to GM hasn’t been overcome, they’re just being lied to. And the fact that this smug little squit finds hope in this achievement – they’ve managed to con millions of people into (for all they know) poisoning themselves and their children – is symptomatic of a huge flaw in unregulated capitalism.

Capitalism is turning into a religion, with corporations becoming the new gods and profit the ultimate virtue. Its pursuit excuses everything. Why do so many people think this is okay?

Song du jour of the day: Andy Abraham’s Even If, for the UK. Nice to see them stepping away from the kitsch and putting in a pretty good song, but I don’t think it’ll help. As I said, people tend not to vote for the Big 4.

Food: tuna casserole, the old standby. Except we don’t have Campbell’s soup here, so I have to use powdered mushroom soup mix and milk. It may be that this is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Or maybe it’s been so long since I’ve eaten the real thing that I’ve forgotten what it tastes like.


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