Saturday, 8 February 2014

cornucopia or avon calling

With the support of two major constituencies within the Duma and farming cooperatives, a politician in Russia is championing the near total ban of importation and production of genetically modified foodstuff. Perhaps there is more to the story than is revealed in the top-level motivations, but I do nonetheless wish that other governments had the backbone to question the pratises and sloppy assurances given by the biotech industry, who as the bill's author says, are conducting a grand experiment on humanity and none of us are certain about neither immediate safety nor the long-term consequences.
Already, there are examples of unnatural organisms escaping into the food chain, flashy, patented designations like Aqua-Bounty® —a breed of salmon that has the genes of a fast growing eel spliced into its DNA, or the pollen of GM crops that mixes and mingles in neighbouring fields or the persistent mystery concerning the honey bee population all over the world. Aside from these uncharted risks, there is moreover the manner in which the companies sow their seeds: farmers who subscribe are not just getting a plant without an historic context but are also committing to a licensing agreement, a franchise sort of deal (like DRM or software-bundling for corn or hosts that demand one signs away ones content) as the crops only thrive if one douses them with pesticides (made by the same companies) and farmers agree to grow the same crops year after year and cannot get out of the contract, leading to distress and hopelessness for small farming operations.