Happy New Year! I hope that 2016 will be a healthy, happy, interesting time for you.
Barbara Kingsolver points out in her book Small Wonder that "a sound-bite culture can't discuss science very well". To talk about genetic engineering requires conversations about biodiversity, land rights, toxins and health, and respect for a "commons" of life. It requires respect for farmers, researchers and all observers of the complexities of growth and selection. The 35th Guelph Organics Conference will be held January 29 - 31 (www.guelphorganicconf.ca) and is a wonderful place to have conversations.
I mention the conference because there's been a series of articles in our local London Free Press newspaper (one of the Sun Media papers).
Recently, a LFPress editorial advocated insecticides that threaten food security. LFPress also praised research into an alfalfa splice and speculated it could be a magic bullet for drought resistance, without mentioning existing drought-resistant seed and farmers who know how to hybridize. Then, LFPress gave space to advocacy of rice genetically modified to provide Vitamin A, without mention that more Vitamin A can come into the diet from leafy vegetables.
The same pro-genetic modification of seed article also quoted people who commented that the "louder", activists are "winning" the public relations battle to turn the public against genetic modification of seed. It's a funny praise, in a way, for low budget organizations in their opposition to world-market-dominating, billion dollar, agri-chemical companies!
Who's put the pressure on our local newspaper? Are the same articles published all across the Sun Media "family" of newspapers?
I'll leave you with a bit more from Barbara Kingsolver. Every essay in her book Small Wonder is worth reading and pondering. The essay quoted below - A Fist in the Eye of God - is a an education and a philosophy in itself, well worth reading and talking about.
[when someone asks] "In two hundred words or less, can you explain to me why I should be nervous about genetic engineering?" I tell them, "Sit down, I'll make you a cup of tea, and then get ready for more than two hundred words."
A sound-bite culture can't discuss science very well. Exactly what we're losing when we reduce biodiversity, the causes and consequences of global warming - these traumas can't be adequately summarized in an evening news wrap-up. Arguments in favor of genetically engineered food, in contrast, are dangerously simple: A magazine ad for an agribusiness touts its benevolent plan to "feed the world's hungry with our vitamin-engineered rice!" To which I could add in reply my own snappy motto: "If you thought that first free hit of heroin was a good idea..." But before you can really decide whether or not you agree, you may need the five hundred words above and a few thousand more. If so, then sit down, have a cup of tea, and bear with me. This is important.
Barbara Kingsolver, in essay A Fist in the Eye of God, in Small Wonder,