A few months ago, undergraduates at the University of Stanford made history by building the first yeast chromosome from scratch. That's right. People who were born after Vanilla Ice's career died figured out a way to develop DNA for the microorganisms essential for bread, beer, rice, and many other fine products, from scratch.
Pretty neat, huh?
Or what about the super banana? A banana that has been engineered to produce vitamin A, and can help reduce infant mortality and blindness throughout Africa.
If you ask me, these scientific breakthroughs are astonishing, and should be applauded. The idea of manipulating the genetics of an organism to make food better, healthier, and more affordable is just, I really don't even have the word for it. It was certainly unimaginable just a century ago, for the idea of DNA wasn't even conceived until 1920's. And yet, there are people that would prefer to imprison the students responsible for building chromosomes from scratch, as well as the engineers who produced a banana that can decrease infant mortality and blindness in third world countries.
Jailing people for making farming more efficient, and food better and more available? Since when did science and innovation become a crime? I might expect this sort of nonsense from religious extremists, like the Catholic Church before the Age of Enlightenment, but certainly not educated, rational thinking people in the twenty-first century. And yes, outlawing the production and distribution of genetically modified organisms (GMO) is their end game, they want to imprison the people responsible. The push to simply label foods with GMOs is just the start. Which by the way, is also fucking absurd. Why force a company to label their product? Forcing anyone to do anything is absurd. How about this: If you're a company that refuses to sell products that were genetically modified, or products that were made with GMOs, then label your product as so. After all, if say you're running a business that prides itself on practices that potential customers deem ethical - Whether rational or not - Then you would advertise as such, right? In fact, it's already happening.
Which begs the question: If people really care about maintaining a GMO-free diet, then why not just buy products that are labeled non-GMO, as opposed to forcing everyone to label? I have a ton of friends on Facebook that are all high up on their horse about defeating Monsanto and the biotechnology industry. I used to challenge these extremists head on, because I think it's necessary to display a logical counterargument to the pseudoscience propaganda that is the movement to ban GMOs. After so many arguments and debates, I got bored, realized I wasn't getting anywhere (nor would I ever get anywhere) with these people, and decided ultimately that my time is better spent on other activities than battling such extremists.
Just one of many propaganda images shared by anti-Monsanto groups on Facebook
Then I went shopping at Trader Joe's one fine evening. I wandered around the store for about twenty minutes, scouring for stovetop popcorn kernels. Unable to locate any kernels, I was approached by an employee of Trader Joe's, who asked if I required assistance. I asked her for stovetop popcorn, to which she retrieved a male employee for further assistance, who came over to inform me that they were out of the organic stovetop popcorn because "the non-GMO crops used to produce popcorn have suffered lately". I laughed my ass off, left, and drove straight to Ralph's to buy Kroger-brand stovetop popcorn. I then went to my girlfriend's place, popped the fuck out of the popcorn, and enjoyed stuffing it into my face as we watched "Machete Kills". It was a fantastic evening to say the least.
However, I likely would not have been able to enjoy this wonderful evening, or any other evening where I consumed stovetop popcorn, had I lived in a world where GMOs were banned.
And now I'm angry. I'm pissed off. I had to listen to a lot of Billy Joel on the way from Ralph's to calm myself down. The thought that there are psychopaths who think it's acceptable to advocate for an institution (in this case, the United States federal government, as well as local and state governments) to use force to take away my right to live my life as I see fit really incinerates my blood.
This is flat-out insanity.
I could address each and every myth proposed by the anti-GMO movement, but I'll leave that to RationalWiki, who has done a magnificent job of countering the arguments against the Monsanto and the biotech industry. I could also ask rhetorical questions, like why would a profit-seeking corporation like Monsanto knowingly make a product that kills their customers? I could also ask why opponents of Monsanto only have issues with GMOs, when there are plenty of potentially harmful products (alcohol, tobacco, prescription medicine, firearms, explosives, knives, swords, lighters) on the market today? However, I aim to discuss the morality (or lack thereof) of such a nonsensical movement.
In case there's anyone who failed math class, no customers = no profit. Putting out a product that harms people is bad business.
Whenever a government makes a product or service illegal, they are taking away a choice. When this happens, it takes away people's right to live. To live their lives as they see fit, whether it's producing said product or service, or using said product or service.
I just imagine taking a time machine back to Ireland during the Great Potato Famine, and explaining to them that we found a solution to world hunger, but chose to outlaw the solution. If you asked them to choose between a genetically modified potato, and nothing, I'm willing to bet that they would choose the potato ten times out of ten.
This is all because people want governments to outlaw certain farming practices. Right away, people are deprived of options, which is why this nonsensical movement is anti-freedom. Farmers that rely on GMOs to support themselves, their families, grow their careers, and live fulfilling lives suffer because they no longer have the option of using a product that made their farm more efficient. Additionally, people (notably poor, impoverished people) suffer because more crops are vulnerable to pests and harmful insects, and thus food is more scarce and more expensive - Not to mention the new crops that produce vital nutrients, thanks to biotechnology - Which is why this nonsensical movement is antilife.
Governments in Europe, Asia, and Africa have already banned GMOs
Am I the only one that sees a problem with this? I have yet to see Monsanto and the biotech industry advocate for legislation restricting the practice of organic farming. It's not like organic farmers are going away anytime soon. In fact, the organic industry is booming right now, as the farmers and the supermarkets that sell their products continue to expand and increase sales. If there is a market demand, then businesses will find a way to meet those demands for a profit. And I have not even mentioned the idea of 3D printing - Food printers will certainly require the DNA of a crop in order to produce it. Will people want to make printing food illegal as well?
Even if Monsanto dominates the market to the point where organic and natural farms disappear, how does this stop people from growing their own food? Oh that's right, it doesn't. In a free market, people would still be able to buy land and grow their own shit. In fact, there are now methods of farming that allow people to farm on the balcony of their apartment. I know this because my roommate is currently in the process of building one.
So how about you pseudoscientific nazis ease up on the political pressure and let people live their lives as they see fit? I'm not saying that people should only eat GMOs. If you think that natural and organic crops are better for you, knock yourself out. I have no business to dictate how people should live their lives. It's your life, live it the way you want to. Just don't force me to live yours. Because I'll be damned if I ever live in a world where I cannot buy stovetop popcorn just because a handful of extremists want to outlaw effective farming practices.