Letter of the Day
Editor: In response to the letter by S. John Newman on “Genetic modification ensures future of salmon stocks:”
Regarding a so-called lack of knowledge, it is amazing the amount of information that has been generated by some very knowledgeable people regarding the safety concerns of this technology. Scientists such as David Suzuki (a geneticist with an Honours BA in Biology) indicated the premature application of biotechnology is downright dangerous; Dr. Arpad Pusztai (world-leading nutritional science expert, Rowett Research Institute) showed that GE potatoes cause serious health problems in rats; and Gilles-Eric Séralini (professor of molecular biology, University of Caen in France) found that animals fed GM corn had increased mortality and more tumors than a control group.
Garbage in equals garbage out. An analogy that can be used to describe genetic engineering would be like adding an ad hoc command to a very complex computer program not really knowing what may happen at all of the various points of operations down the line. David Suzuki explains that the context within which the new gene finds itself has been changed; therefore we cannot say what the behavior of the new gene will be . . .
For instance, corn that has the pesticide Bt engineered into its genetic makeup to make it resistant to certain pests — Bt is a natural pesticide, but it would never naturally find its way into corn seed. It does not make sense to me that we should expect to NOT be harmed, for example, by eating a plant that has been modified to include a pesticide in each and every cell of that plant.
GMOs cannot be recalled from the environment after they’ve been released since they are integrated further by cross pollination, breeding, or ingested making it impossible to contain. I find it to be fundamentally wrong to release such a technology without being able to retrieve it at will (unlike stopping the action of applying pesticides, etc.)
Regarding factory farms, it does not make sense to me that we should keep going in the direction of industrial farming when it is proven that our ecological framework does not work with such simplistic views of biology. It makes more sense to work with nature and do what works, such as organic farming — better for the air, soil, water — therefore better health and quality of life for all living creatures — on land and/or at sea.
At the expense of the family farm, transnational corporations use their market power by reducing prices to producers, raising input costs, shutting out competitors, and pooling patented technologies.
Much information indicates that the world already has plenty of food to go around. The problem is that (1) it is not fairly distributed, and (2) the poor cannot pay to purchase what they need. Growing more food is not going to solve these problems, particularly for the poor. Solving poverty will be needed before we can solve the problem of hunger. Solving poverty may have to be to encourage much smaller family units — decrease the world population. There is such a thing as a saturation point where Earth only has a certain capacity; space and resources. At the same time, we need to stop kidding ourselves and stop polluting our air, water, and soil.
Instead of having one large corporation mass producing something, it would be better to have many individual smaller operations producing quality.
In the case of organic farming, if all farms would be organic, there would be a need for many smaller farms.
This would create more equality by removing the large corporate farms, providing more people with an opportunity to do what they love. More jobs and a cleaner environment (better air, water, and soil) — as a result, better health. Healthier people mean more productive societies, less crime. This could be applied to everything that we make (products) and do (services) whether it is farming, fishing, transportation, housing, medical, energy, research, communication, etc — there is room for improvement on everything!
The key is sustainability as opposed to growth. We do not need to be zillionaires to be happy — zillionaires have far more than they need to retire yet they still want more . . . when is enough, enough? I can’t imagine that some generation down the road not be affected to the point of no return — there is no time like the present to turn things around — quality versus quantity — working towards a cleaner planet is a better way, for one, to ensure the future of salmon stocks.