Tuesday, May 5, 2009

GM Crops Take Another Hit

Europe’s raving paranoia about genetically modified crops won out in a German court ruling against biotech company Monsanto. The country’s agriculture minister, Ilse Aigner, sponsored a ban on MON 810 maize, a GM crop designed to be resistant to pests. Aigner and others believe that GM crops in general are bad news and that MON 810 is particularly dangerous because it kills predatory animals as well as pests. There’s no real scientific basis for this, and MON 810 has been proven safe enough for other countries to allow it. But part of the court ruling against Monsanto’s motion for an emergency injunction against the ban stated that Berlin didn’t have to scientifically prove something was an environmental danger before banning it as an environmental danger. I’ll let that sink in. While it’s true that Monsanto and many other giant corporations have previously been involved in some horrendous and inexcusable environmental crimes, there’s absolutely no scientific or rational reason to outright ban GM crops. Further scientific study is always welcome, but the overwhelming majority of evidence so far points to GM crops actually being more humanitarian and environmentally friendly than traditional agriculture in many cases. GM crops are designed to produce more resilient yields in greater quantities. Yes, particular genetic strains can be patented, but that’s no different from any company selling seeds to a farmer. If more crops can be produced on less land, that means a smaller environmental impact and greater profits for the farmer. It also means more food for parts of the world struggling to survive with traditional agriculture. And if these plants can be modified to resist pests, that means less toxic pesticide needs to be used. It’s a win-win-win-win-etc., and the loudest complaints about GM crops come from people either pushing pseudoscientific, quasi-naturalist bullshit and/or anti-corporate, misinformed whining. A bunch of poppycock, I say. Also, if eating GM corn causes us to grow bat wings and prehensile tails, how could that possibly be a bad thing? More details here.

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