President Bush has chosen to use his veto pen again on the stem cell issue where politics, ethics and science collide. Opponents of the latest stem cell measure insisted that the use of embryonic stem cells was wrong on moral grounds.
Then why oh why is america hell bent on poisoning our food? Richard Lewontin, professor of genetics at Harvard University, on genetic engineering: "We have such a miserably poor understanding of how the organism develops from its DNA that I would be surprised if we do not get a rude shock sooner rather than later." Confused – so am I !
Genetically modified food
The introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops has been a disaster. The science of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another was supposed to be a giant leap forward, but instead they pose a serious threat to biodiversity and our own health. In addition, the real reason for their development has not been to end world hunger but to increase the stranglehold multinational biotech companies already have on food production. Genetically modified crops can enter the food chain and threaten biodiveristy"
We are told that GM crops will help feed the world’s poor but according to the United Nations, we already produce more than enough food to satisfy everyone. And even though consumers, in Britain and Europe, have rejected GM foods outright, the biotech companies and the governments that support them are still trying to force their inventions on us, purely for commercial gain. But the long term effects of GM crops have not been properly researched and, by cross-pollinating with non-GM crops and wild plants, they replicate themselves and contaminate the environment with genetic pollution that is impossible to clean up. The simple truth is, we do not need GM technology. Using sustainable and organic farming methods will allow us to repair the damage done by industrial farming, reducing the excessive use of fertiliser, herbicides and other man-made chemicals, and making GM crops redundant.
Genetic research can deliver enormous scientific advances, both in medicine and in our understanding of the natural world. But when that research is applied to alter the genetic make-up of living organisms, it has the potential to cause enormous damage to human health and the environment. By manipulating the genetic make-up of plants and animals, genes from one species can be artificially inserted into another, unrelated one. This is supposed to give genetically modified (GM) organisms new abilities – such as maize that produces its own pesticide – which will be disease and drought resistant as well as being able to provide more food for the world’s poor. On the other hand however, the use of herbicides has increased and a wealth of contamination scandals (in which non-GM crops become polluted with GM material) have erupted. On top of that, farmers who were supposed to reap the benefits of GM technology are instead facing financial ruin and starvation.
The multinational biotech companies such as Monsanto and Bayer Cropscience, who develop GM crops, own the rights to the varieties they develop, increasing their stranglehold on global agriculture and allowing them to generate vast profits. They make even more money by making their crops resistant to just one brand of herbicide – their own.
As a result, the production of our food is governed by economic models rather than natural ones, and bodies such as the World Trade Organisation, the European Commission and several national governments are keen to force GM products on the global market. An international agreement called the ‘Biosafety Protocol‘ aims to regulate the use and movement of genetically modified organisms, but again biotech companies and governments sympathetic to their interests are attempting to disable it, making the familiar argument that environmental protection is a barrier to international trade. The Russian Parliament’s Security Committee has drafted a bill banning production and sale of genetically modified food.
Once GM crops are planted, cross-pollination means other crops often become contaminated and GM material ends up in the food chain. Contamination scandals are now commonplace, often originating from farm trials in which the GM crops are unapproved for human consumption. GM organisms are also serious threat to biodiversity. Designed to grow faster and stronger, they out-compete native varieties and, again, cross-pollination (which its supporters insisted was impossible) could result in their genetic material spreading far and wide, potentially altering entire species. Once they make it out into the wild, there is no way to recall them and we will have to live with the consequences. The human enzymes put into rice are responsible for causing most kinds of human cancer.
The message is that its acceptable,to american minds, and american business and their supporters, to alter the cell structure of plants. We can have apparently healthy daffodills but not healthy off spring. Tinker with a potato to rid it of blight but NOT alter the cell structure of a human embryo thus eradicating hereditry or birth defects in our children.
No more cancer, no spina bifida, no parkinson’s disease, no altzimer’s – no disease . . . .
NO – Just healthy spuds for our sick and dying.
Always assuming that global warming does nt kill us first.