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There’s a lot of pressure to quiet criticism of GMO crops and the companies (Monsanto, front and center, but others as well) that promote them.
Typically the protests against GMO are depicted as being on par with Luddites or anti-vaxxers.
While you can find some folks who oppose unlabeled GMO in our food supply for purely bogus sci-fi horror movie reasons, the truth is the bulk of objections are pretty sound, and the more the GMO producers try to silence the objections, the louder they have to become.
And we’re excluding criticism of merely the business side of GMO crops — the producers’ exclusive claim to all seeds, their usurious leasing rates for new seed crops, etc. That’s awful and well worth hammering them about, but it would be the same for any business using similar high pressure tactics against customers.
No, the problem is this:
History has shown that industry is fully capable of selling dangerous and defective products to customers, and not merely products that later prove themselves to be dangerous, such as thalidomide, but products they already know to be dangerous.
Such as tobacco.
Such as cars with vulnerable fuel tanks.
Industry has repeatedly demonstrated even when regulatory agencies were fully authorized and funded that they knowingly hide damaging information from public, scientific, and governmental review, all so their stock holders could make more money.
So when the GMO producers want to hide the fact that some of our food supply contains GMO produce despite the fact they have well established procedures and mechanisms in place to track such crops so that they can bill farmers, then we see red flags being waved everywhere.
Something is not right in this picture,
and it isn’t the fact people are
ill-informed on GMO crops.
What the GMO producers are saying when they demand there be no labels on GMO crops is that their right to make money supersedes their customers’ right to make informed purchases for any reason.
Maybe you don’t like the taste of something.
Maybe the color or the texture doesn’t appeal to you.
Maybe you want to buy only from local farmers.
Maybe whether it’s organic or GMO, you still say it’s spinach and you still say to hell with it.
The fact is that you the consumer have every right in the world to make a purchase based on your own personal choices, and no one has the right to trick you into buying something you do not wish to purchase.
If the GMO producers were 100% certain there were no long term health risks to GMO crops, why would they be opposed to GMO crops being labeled as such?
Okay, say a certain percentage of the “free market” opposes them and won’t buy foodstuffs with GMO ingredients.
The people who do purchase GMO crops will be buying better quality (it will be better, won’t it?) and cheaper priced (it will be cheaper, right?) food than their neighbors who don’t.
After 10 – 20 – 30 years with no health problems, pretty much everybody on the planet comes around to the fact that GMOs pose no health risk and everybody except for the real health food fanatics are buying them.
I mean, it’s not like they won’t make
money between now and then, right?
And the patents will run for gawdawful long periods of time, so they’ll still be reaping the benefits — literally and financially — of GMO crops a century from now.
Why don’t they want us to know if there are GMO crops in our food supply?
See, our thinking goes like this:
In many cases GMO crops are designed to withstand lavish amounts of pesticides and herbicides, significantly higher than the current acceptable levels. We know the pesticides and herbicides are relatively harmless over a human lifetime at their current dosage; we don’t know if multiplying those doses by a factor of two or four or eight times is going to have long term health problems.
We know what Agent Orange did to people with even mere passing exposure to it so you can’t say our concerns are groundless.
What we wonder is if the GMO producers, like the tobacco companies, do not want a paper trail pointing back to it in the event there proves to be a long term health problem in the future. To us, that indicates they are not 100% convinced increased pesticide / herbicide use will be harmless, even though said pesticides / herbicides are supposed to break down in nature and be rendered harmless before the crops enter the human food supply.
It also makes us wonder how well our ecosystem will react to massive extra doses of supposedly harmless compounds entering our water tables, our soil, and our oceans. This is not a groundless fear! We’ve seen the damage fertilizers can do to once pristine fresh water supplies in Florida and other places, not to mention laundry detergents.
What the GMO producers want is this:
- To use deception to force us to buy products we have no trust in
- To hide the trail leading back to them if anything goes wrong
photos by E. Eugene Smith (1949)
Well, this is interesting. In a report released two years ago but which apparently got very little media play, the British Medical Journal reported a survey of pregnancies in the US that indicated 1 in 200 such pregnancies were self-reported as occurring without sexual intercourse; in other words, human parthenogenesis.
Now…BIG caveat with this survey:
The women reporting are self-reporting; there is no objective way to verify their sexual activity or lack there of. Some of them may not have understood what was meant by sexual activity (for example, what we’d refer to as heavy petting over clothing), others may have been lying either consciously or unconsciously.
Any woman who had child that doesn’t match
the mother’s DNA exactly may be presumed
to have had some sort of sexual contact
But…at the very least this report would suggest that the idea of human parthenogenesis, long pooh-poohed by skeptics, may not be beyond the realm of possibility after all.
The Anti-Theist vs Young Earth Creationist hissy fit continues apace, with both sides screaming “Is not! / Is, too!” at each other ad infinitum.
The truth, as always, seems to elude both of them.
Latest clue to the puzzle points us back into the depths of interstellar space again.
“Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are important ingredients of life on Earth,” the study’s lead author, Arnaud Belloche, of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy… The detection of a molecule with a branched carbon backbone in interstellar space, in a region where stars are being formed, is interesting because it shows that interstellar chemistry is indeed capable of producing molecules with such a complex, branched structure.”
So in other words, more evidence that life may have originated off of this planet instead of on it, and if it did originate on Earth then it may have still be significantly changed and irrevocably altered by extraterrestrial influence.
Bad news for the Anti-Theists:
Intelligent Design can’t be taken off the table since there is no way of determining where & how life originated.
Bad news for the Creationists:
Billions and billions of years, poindexters.
Good news for the rest of us:
Ain’t the universe wonderful?
“The zombie scenario goes as follows: imagine that you have a doppelgänger. This person physically resembles you in every respect, and behaves identically to you; he or she holds conversations, eats and sleeps, looks happy or anxious precisely as you do. The sole difference is that the doppelgänger has no consciousness; this – as opposed to a groaning, blood-spattered walking corpse from a movie – is what philosophers mean by a ‘zombie’.
“Such non-conscious humanoids don’t exist, of course. (Or perhaps it would be better to say that I know I’m not one, anyhow; I could never know for certain that you aren’t.) But the point is that, in principle, it feels as if they could. Evolution might have produced creatures that were atom-for-atom the same as humans, capable of everything humans can do, except with no spark of awareness inside. As Chalmers explained: “I’m talking to you now, and I can see how you’re behaving; I could do a brain scan, and find out exactly what’s going on in your brain – yet it seems it could be consistent with all that evidence that you have no consciousness at all.” If you were approached by me and my doppelgänger, not knowing which was which, not even the most powerful brain scanner in existence could tell us apart. And the fact that one can even imagine this scenario is sufficient to show that consciousness can’t just be made of ordinary physical atoms. So consciousness must, somehow, be something extra – an additional ingredient in nature.” — Oliver Burkeman, “Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness?”
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be – wait, no, what am I saying? Nah, that could never happen. Forget I even brought it up. Say, how about them Kardashians, huh?”
out along the cygnus wall
where great star factories roam
a trillion miles from nowhere
is a place that we call home
and it’s not much to live on
but it’s mighty grand to see
a nice place to think about
but a nicer place to be
you’ll find worlds by the thousands
of every kind and size
kingdoms made of diamonds
bright heavens made of sighs
cold hells made of heartaches
colder hearts made of stone
find anything you want
when you call the wall your home
no one lives forever
yet no one really dies
when your heart’s in the heavens
of the grand cygnus skies
photo © Nick Pavelchak
text © Buzz Dixon
with a tip of the space helmet
to Robert Service
and Rudyard Kipling