Have you guys ever been in one of those situations in which you want one of your awkward or significantly less popular friends to be invited to a party, so you and some of your friends use your own social clout to get him her or her in the door unchallenged? Like, the host is happy that you’re there and honestly wouldn’t have cared if you brought a particularly ornery bear? (Or perhaps you’ve been the unpopular friend or perhaps you’ve been the host?)
So, about a month ago, that’s what happened with Monsanto. President Obama signed a keep-the-government-funded-so-that-the-world-as-we-know-it-can-continue-to-exist bill, and one of the minor provisions in it (thanks to aggressive lobbying from the company, Monsanto) “effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future.”
First of all, people fussing at Obama about this? Chill out. And I don’t just mean: “Our last President ordered that prisoners of war be tortured for information, this guy signed a law about seed-planting.” But also that. But, really, this was the governmental-finacial equivalent of do-or-die. No responsible President would have refused to sign.
But second of all, as alarmed as I am by lobbying of Congress and by democracy in general, not to mention anything that bars federal courts from doing something that they should be allowed to do . . . guys, this is about seeds. Like, plant seeds.
They aren’t genetically engineering dragons or viral weapons or even doing some harmless human cloning.
Genetically modified foods (GMOs) are problematic when they limit natural diversity among certain crops (so if one has a vulnerability, they all do). They are also problematic for the same reason that any monopoly can be problematic (“Oh, you’re using our seeds? Well you’ll specifically need our fertilizer and other products”). That’s dickish, but still much less sinister than your average cable-provider (I’m not kidding or just exaggerating because of some service issues; cable companies are downright malevolent).
But GMOs feed millions around the globe who would otherwise starve. They allow our food to be more affordable and the annual crops harvested by our farmers* to be more predictable and consistent. And I don’t know about yours, but my genetically modified food is absolutely delicious. The way that some people freak out about technological advances that improve our lives and those of millions around the globe (whether they complain about GMOs or vaccines or, I kid you not, Google Earth), you would think that they wanted to live during the Dark Ages.
Because nothing says “all of our food is one-hundred-percent organic” like a devastating famine.
*Is anyone else totally weirded out that we still have farmers in 2013? I mean, I’m sure that in a hundred years we’ll still have some people growing their own herbs or flowers or whatever, and that’s fine. But there are still people who are actually farmers and they’re flesh-and-blood humans instead of robots and that is one of those things, along with heinous crimes, senseless violence, and rampant pollution, that I feel would be awkward to explain to extraterrestrial visitors. All of that horrifying, grueling labor should be performed by robots inside domed, temperature-controlled structures. And meat should be synthetically grown and harvested just like corn is.