A New Lie About GMO Food (Being Told For Money)

Slate.com has just published a new interview with Ingo Potrykus, who is a co-inventor of golden rice, which is genetically engineered to combat blindness and death in children in poor countries by supplying 60 percent of the daily requirement of Vitamin A in a single serving (basically splicing a beta carotene-producing gene into rice). The interviewer is very kind to Potrykus, as demonstrated by not asking Potrykus any hard questions. The article is an editorial, not a report, based in the online title -- “It’s Wicked to Oppose Genetically Modified Golden Rice” (When you click through to the actual story, the title disingenuously changes to rephrase the online title in the form of a question).

The writer asked Potrykus why Greenpeace and other groups have been so opposed to his project to create a GMO rice. Potrykus replies: “They've realized that it's politically more effective to be radical and not judge things on a case-by-case basis. I've had high-level discussions with Greenpeace over the years, and it becomes clear they cannot tolerate any genetically modified organisms, even those that can be used for the public good. If you encourage them to change their position on golden rice, their response is the same: They're against GMOs. That's the position, and it's very successful.”

Then the interviewer says: “These groups tap into public opposition to GMOs. Why do you think there is such vehement opposition?”

And Potrykus says, “Since the early 1990s, the majority of the media has repeated the mantra that GMOs are highly dangerous for the environment and the consumer. This mantra is fuelled continuously by a well-financed and -organized anti-GMO lobby. One of the cleverest tricks of the anti-GMO movement is to link GMOs so closely to Monsanto and other multinational corporations, because Monsanto has no friends. That strategy guarantees millions of supporters because people are emotionally against multinationals and in favor of organic farming because of the perception that it's run by idealists who protect nature and don't make money from it.”

This is a lie being told for money.

What Potrykus chooses not to say is much more important that what he says. Earlier in the article, the writer points out that there is a project in Uganda and Mozambique that has successfully bred heirloom sweet potatoes to do exactly what this GMO rice does. What no one in the article points out is that heirloom (open-pollinated) food has no owner. Every GMO food does. So the people who developed the improved sweet potato strain have created a food that no one owns -- if you can get some, and you know how to save and grow sweet potatoes (by using slips) then you can have these sweet potatoes, and anyone who wants to can grow them forever -- just like all the heirloom vegetables we have today.

But the GMO rice is owned and patented, and Patrykus will get rich off it, if it is approved in the Philippines (that country is considering it now). And anyone who ever wants to grow the golden rice will have to pay Potrykus’ company, forever. And that is truly wicked.

Not to mention real concerns about the fact that once modified genes are released into nature, humankind cannot ever control them again.

GMO food has one single goal -- to make its owners rich. I know first-hand about the allure. I create vegetable varieties. It has taken years of work to stabilize my two winter lettuces. And I sell the seeds. But once someone has bought the seed from me, they can save it and grow it and have it for the rest of their lives, without ever paying me another dime. They can sell it themselves. They can give it away. (Hopefully they will know what they are doing and know how to keep it pure, which isn’t rocket science but is important.) All of this is as it should be -- because I didn’t invent lettuce. I just created two new and much needed strains for winter growing. I did this hoping to help replace some of the winter varieties that have become extinct because they were carefully and quietly replaced by corporate-owned lettuces.

Owning the food supply is wicked. Improving the food supply is wonderful, but doing it with hybrids or GMOs which are patented and owned will do more to cause starvation and hardship than any other single factor. We give away our ability to feed ourselves for free by forcing farmers and gardeners to pay for seed each year instead of growing their own. This is what Potrykus is not saying in his interview -- sure, he’s created a food that will improve nutrition. But if his rice is approved, he will also force starving nations to pay for his seed forever, just like Monsanto.

There is only one way to support heirloom food, and that is by eating it, whether you grow it yourself and pay for the seed, or you buy it from people who are working hard to keep it from extinction, which has already happened to the majority of heirloom seed. Vote with your mouth, and your money. -Caleb

You can read the whole lie here: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2013/10/golden_rice_inventor_ingo_potrykus_greenpeace_and_others_wicked_for_opposition.html

1 comment:

  1. VERY well said! I so agree with you! I am learning to save seed and have ordered from you. Keep up the good work!