Thursday, May 30, 2013

Use those pitchforks to feed, not scare, the public

If you're one of those people going all foamy at the mouth when you hear the name "Monsanto," you need to sit down, take a couple of deep breaths, and hear me out.

Monsanto is not the enemy.

Section 735 of HR 933, aka the "Monsanto Protection Act" is not an indication of criminality of a major agribusiness. It is part of a legal action taken and signed by the President of the United States, essentially, to find a compromise between scientists and Luddites.

Well, that may be a little harsh. But it boils down to this: Monsanto (and other corporations whose profits come from genetically engineering foodstuffs) create new crops, most of which are designed to produce food under extremely adverse conditions. They also produce foods which are easier to grow, easier to harvest, and easier to take nourishment from.  Many of the horror stories of butterflies dying, sterile crops in neighboring fields, and such have been rather effectively debunked by actual scientists.

And, yet, there are bunches of people who believe that nothing agribusinesses will ever do could possibly be good for humanity, and many of these groups have a history of filing lawsuits to block the planting, harvesting, transport or distribution of said genetically engineered produce. Countries in Europe have banned or severely restricted the growth and sale of many engineered crops, regardless of the fact that organic sprouts were the source of a massive, lethal outbreak of food poisoning only a few years ago. A nation of people on the brink of famine in Africa saw ships laden with food rejected (pdf), because it contained some genetically modified (GM) grain which might have changed their local, failing crops' political status even while it fed people and/or livestock.

Monsanto is not Doctor Frankenstein, creating a monster out of dead butterfly parts. Perhaps there is some hubris within the community of scientists and businessmen who genetically engineer our future meals, but, as I recall, the real monster in the Frankenstein movies was the mob of fearful, angry villagers who deemed the creature "unnatural" and, therefore, to be destroyed.

Even if (and this is a very big "if") GM food were half the nightmare its foes make it out to be, they and their manufacturers and producers are still not at fault for passing some nefarious legislation designed to force their products down our gullets. Monsanto did not write any laws. Monsanto did only what every individual, every interest does in this nation - be ye a liberal, be ye conservative, be ye looney-tunes, be ye Greenpeace, AARP, or one of the Koch brothers. Monsanto used its Constitutional rights and asked for help from its congresscritters to protect it from those who seek to its destruction. If you find fault with any legislation, find fault with those who ostensibly work for us in Washington, DC. Theirs are the outstretched hands, the ears, the "ayes".

Personally, as much as I dislike most of Congress (and much as I currently view our president with a deep contempt, most days),  when it comes to Section 735 of HR 933, I think they did what was right and necessary to protect the nation's farmers from being litigated to death before they can get a single crop in. When push comes to shove, I'm on the side of the guys who want to put food in the mouths of the starving people of Africa, Venezuela, and all points in any direction. I'm assuming most rational people like to eat as much as I do. Maybe that assumption is, like most, making an as mostly of me, but I'd like to think that there is still some humanity left in people, that they can accept change when it comes, even when it comes at the mad pace of today's modern scientific advancement.

Update: In light of some graphics I've seen on social media, I feel compelled to add that GM  has NOTHING TO DO WITH honeybees' colony die-off, and there is no deep, evil plan for Monsanto to hide or subvert anything by buying small bee-research company, Beeologics.
is pure, unadulterated, non-GM Bee Ess of the sort which will fertilize nothing.

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