GM Stands For Genetic Muddle



I say I am against GM foods and even consented to be in that documentary making its rounds (“GMO-OMG”) declaring my opposition even though I hate the public stage. Then I turn around and write something supportive of genetically modified chestnut trees. I have to try to explain myself. I have read all your good responses last time about GM foods and looked at the links you all suggested and in fact have spent the greater part of my writing career examining and reporting on food safety. I am sure of only one thing. No one will ever solve the debate over which foods are safe and which are not. It is a fruitless (pardon pun) endeavor. The most dangerous foods in the world are alcoholic beverages and we embrace and glorify them.

I am against GM foods wherever I can see that they are being glorified mostly to allow big business conglomerates and big farm conglomerates to take more land away from the rest of us or drive up the price beyond what we can afford to buy. I don’t care if their GM foods are healthy or unhealthy. I just about throw up whenever I hear a big international company piously say they are trying to genetically modify foods to combat worldwide food shortages or climate change. Bull. They are trying to make more money and the most ironic thing about this is that they are turning even big industrial grain producers into wealthy serfs. It costs a small fortune to grow corn their way and this year, with corn prices down, farmers— rich farmers — are being turned into mewling beggars, trying to figure out which government insurance subsidy will save them from financial disaster.

I am against GM foods when I think they are indirectly making it harder and harder for smaller food farmers (which now includes farmers with a thousand acres) to own land. I believe that the perpetrators of that kind of “food” are destroying democracy which, as Thomas Jefferson famously said, can’t survive without a hefty population of small land owners.

What is most insidious about this new onslaught of plutocracy is that I don’t know any way to protect myself from it. Because these manufactured food plants spread by pollen through the air, I am subject to genetic muddle whether I want it or not. I will be planting muddle possibly without even knowing it unless I use laboratory examination. And heaven help me if their factory plants volunteer on my land. I can be accused of stealing them. Nor dare I replant them. I must buy new every year. That is an example of power and might trying to patent all of nature. This is an example of how the last fortress of independence, a person on his or her own land, producing his or her own sustenance, is being (unwittingly I hope) taken away from us. People have always had the freedom, in the United States, of living as they wished on their own land, so long as they obeyed the laws. If this GM crop food innovation continues, we independent are helpless. We will grow and eat what power and wealth tell and sell us to grow and eat. Or else.

Many efforts to use genetically modified plants or medicines (the number is probably unlimited) do not involve endangering democracy or free trade. If a genetically modified organism can be produced this way that will cure my cancer, I am all for it.


There is so much confusion over GMO to the extent that any genetic modification becomes a no no and yet genetic modification has been carried out since agriculture began. I have little problem with a gene being taken from a wild potato resistant to blight being added to another potato strain that isn’t, especially when the result is licensed to more than one company to prevent the Monsanto type monopoly. This is simply a faster way of doing what farmers have done for centuries. This has been undertaken at Wageningen University in the Netherlands

This type of GM is cisgenic or within species modification. Transgenic is between species and is used more often than not to help plants become resistant to the herbicides that a farmer sprays to get rid of competition, thereby increasing the use of herbicides as well as introducing a completely novel gene to the plants gene pool. This type of genetic modification I cannot agree to and has all sorts of problems ensue when they start releasing the next generation into the atmosphere. Sometimes plants have an enormous effect even if they have not been modified, just growing them becomes a problem – hence the problems with invasive species.

Another aspect of genetic modification I have less problems with is growing of drugs in genetically modified algae for medicinal purposes. These types are grown in confined areas and although there is a risk from spillage, the risks are minimal to contamination, as far as I am aware. I do feel much more cautious about drugs being grown in lettuces and the like, although I see why they are doing that, to get drugs to areas where refrigeration is a problem but I do worry about the effects of those crossing with others and spreading.


    And just when I thought I had got all the genetic technology types sorted in my head, I find out there is another aspect to crop breeding technology, I find out there is something else. I should have guessed as Marker selection was something my husband used to use, but in a different field of work entirely – namely Leukaemia’s and such like. Apparently the Marker selection speeds up traditional genetic selection and so GM is “old technology” 🙂

    Owen Paterson, by the way was the former environment secretary in the UK, but his view on what was good for the environment and say the Greens were oceans apart.

If you all want to have your spirits raised a little about what is going on with small farmers and homesteaders, check out the Tennessee Community Mother Earth News Facebook page. Currently, I get to be a volunteer editor for this page and I have been amazed at what is happening on a small scale in my state by people who want to live and farm sustainably. It has been my extreme good fortune to be able to share their stories and get the word out. And it’s happening quietly, all over the country, on small plots of land, and without any kind of government subsidies!

WHY does it keep replacing larger with largery??? I don’t think I typed largery the first time, either, and now it did it again!

Dear Gene, the large ag companies do not want to deal with “small” farmers. They want to have huge corporate farms so they are only dealing with 400-500 “farms” throughout the nation.

    The Big Ag companies COULD have it their way, Jeannie, if they would stop forcing the small farmers to play their silly “seed” games. If every farmer who wanted to use GE’d seeds could, and every farmer who didn’t want to use GE’d seeds wasn’t forced to do so, it would be a more level playing field, and everyone would win. But you’re right – Big Ag is forcing small farmers to sell to largery farmers

I agree with Jefferson on many topics, for instance, he was an Epicurean and I think we should all be Epicureans. He was a terrifically educated man at whose feet anyone, even today, should sit to learn about the Enlightenment and Grecian philosophy. But I don’t know that what he had to say about his time necessarily transfers to ours.

These days, I prefer Logsdon, who has lived in my centuries and whose prose is unparalleled.

Gene , that is exactley what I”ve said before about Open pollinated corn.I want to grow and develop an OP that will fit my farm and give decent yields and not have to spend a couple hundred bucks on a bag of seed each year.Plus the satisfaction of knowing my animals are fattening and growing on a corn that i developed myself .It’s a matter of pride and satisfaction and good example of the old “home economy” that used to be preached before the days of “spend it before it becomes cold in your pocket”.Some days you wonder why you are on this planet that doesnt seem to want or need you but then deep down we would all like to live long enough to make our relatives wonder if we are ever going to kick off so they can inherit things of quality and substance and auction them off so they can buy flimsy new trendy furniture that falls apart after one or two useds and guns and pick ups that cost
4o-60 K with the duals sticking out and be cul de sac cowboys. lol

Definition of GMO;

God Move Over!

A cure for cancer? We have to die of something. We don’t live forever. We aren’t suppose to. But then some are working on it, replacing failing body parts. Remember NATURE ALWAYS BATS LAST!

“I can be accused of stealing them. Nor dare I replant them. I must buy new every year.”
Not really, the few trials so far were only for farmers who wanted to take advantage of the GM trait without paying the technical fee, not because they happened to have volunteers or crop contamination.

The original patent for the glyphosate tolerance trait is now public domain, so theoretically, you could replant your own harvest, except that what prevents farmers from doing so is because almost all corn planted is hybrid and need to be purchased every year. GMOs accentuate the dependency to the seed companies who are also biotech and chemical companies, but it already started with these hybrids.

I read somewhere that it is feasible to select these high yield hybrid traits and stabilize the crop into a new variety, that’s really what public ag universities should be doing, instead of abandoning this competency to the biotech companies who have zero incentives in doing so, compared to maintaining their captive farmer market. It’s really short-sighted too, because I’m guessing that 90% of farmers would still purchase new seed every year, as growing crops for seed is a different job. But of course they wouldn’t be paying the same high hybrid+GM technical fee then.

It’s a choice farmers should be making too, there are too many of them accepting that hybrids and GMOs are the norm. The consumers should also be asking where their food comes from, it’s only because of the recent pressure of a few to label GMOs that the demand and premiums for non-GM crops has increased.

Personally, I think GMOs are a very minor issue compared to the real health issues caused by the hundreds of pesticides used on seeds, on the crops, and during storage, or caused by high yield selection if it means less nutritious food. But it’s mostly our unregulating and giving away the whole agriculture sector to private companies and technocrats that is the major problem, especially at a time when we desperately need jobs and agriculture could provide them.

    “the few trials so far were only for farmers who wanted to take advantage of the GM trait without paying the technical fee, not because they happened to have volunteers or crop contamination.”

    This does not seem to apply to Percy Schmeiser, who lost in court to Monsanto when he saved seed he harvested from his own crop that somehow acquired glyphosate tolerance. He was never licensed for RoundUp Ready(TM) seed, and yet he lost the court case.

    In a sense, I guess you’re right: Schmeiser “wanted to take advantage of the GM trait without paying the technical fee,” but it’s not like he stole seed or violated an agreement he had signed.

    In a later case he brought, a court convicted Monsanto of “trespass,” and ordered them to pay for the removal of all GMO canola on the Schmeiser farm, but that was a pyrrhic victory, at best.

Gene, I feel like you just precisely plagiarized my feelings. I might differ with you a little on the exceptions to the rule, but in my opinion, the central and biggest reason to oppose GMO’s is what you just said (and said so well.)
I wasn’t really interested in that documentary until now, but if even a part of it is like what you said above, then I might have to watch it after all.

Thanks for the most cogent comments about GM I’ve read to date.

This whole debate on GMO’s is not black and white. The whole debate should center on what effect technology has, good or bad on local communities, human health, and the long term ecology of the planet.
This debate must be similar to the debates the Amish face concerning all technology. Many Amish communities are pretty modern. Many are extremely conservative. Both approaches want the same thing…A cohesive community not too distracted by the outside world.

They are the only farmers that are growing rapidly in numbers. Maybe we should all study how they approach the subject and not just say we are always for or against a particular technology. As Gene eloquently states, “if a genetically modified organism can be produced this way that will cure my cancer, I am all for it”.

I believe I would be too.

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