Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stuff: The Splice is Nice

Ah, the age of modern living... and how easy it is to misunderstand it, I suppose.
Great case in point; the recent breakthrough in genetic modification to create a more durable food supply. Researchers had found a way to pluck the gene sequence out of - for example - the cockroach's DNA that controls shell and skin growth and hardness and insert it into the tomato. The tomato would then grown an outer skin that would be a little tougher against the elements and pests. This would have yielded a larger crop that would last much longer; both in the field, and in the store.
Unfortunately the stigma of the source more than alarmed people. While science tried to reassure them that their tomatoes were, in fact, not part bug, activist groups worked round the clock to get the new technology banned, immediately; causing farmers to give pause. For the first time EVER we had found a new technology to produce strong, healthy, lasting crops... and were stepping back from it.
Maybe it's too much bad science fiction? Perhaps, with all the pesticides, hormones, and chemicals we already put on and in our food - which do actually contribute to serious health issues - this was too much for the ordinary consumer to take.
But, the fact of the matter is, altering a gene sequence like that doesn't make your tomato part bug, at all. All it does is tell the fruit to use its fruit stuffs to make a skin like it always does, but just a little like something different.
Since then there's been a huge uproar of activism regarding Genetically Modified Food. Most recently, here in California, Prop 37 was introduced on the ballot; forcing food labeling on anything remotely altered. It was a horrible prop, badly written, and would not only would have caused more confusion over food, but would have ended up costing consumers more money at the stores; where the stores themselves would have had to foot the bill for maintaining proper labeling right at their shelves.
Yet, when it - thankfully - didn't pass, there was a small uproar over its failure. The knee jerk reaction to GMO, as it's called, was so bad that, despite all the analysis on the prop's cost and impact, pockets of even my otherwise well learned and informed friends got more than a little huffy over it. Down right snide, in some cases.
Now I'm not saying we should just all keep eating whatever we're given, no questions asked. There's enough evidence to suggest a link between what we do to our food, and what it does to us. But a lot of that has to do with poor eating habits (For a myriad of reasons.) as much as what's put into our food. And the whole idea of going organic isn't really practical, either. There's 230 million people in the Untied States, alone. You try to get all that food everywhere quickly, before it spoils, and still keep your company afloat.
Sometimes it feels like, to me, that many people want to have their cake and eat it too. We need to feed everyone, and everyone wants affordable food. Yet, to feed everyone, and make it affordable, we need to add preservatives to give it a better shelf life; which nobody seems to want, because they're rather eat all organic - regardless of how expensive and short lived that kind of food can be.
Maybe if all those folks went and planted themselves victory gardens...?
Peace and grace be with you... You are what you eat, so go read a few labels to help you plan a better weekly menu. 

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