By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net
In the nature of our business of farm broadcasting, there are topics and issues that we cover that are huge, life changing issues that most people outside of the Ag industry will never once hear about. With so many other news items out there and countless news outlets trying so hard to grab someone’s attention, headlines that pertain to the farm get lost in the shuffle.
That hasn’t been the case recently as President Obama signed an appropriations bill that included what some are calling The Monsanto Protection Act. To be fair, this part of the bill is actually called the Farmers Assurance Provision and it will “create a careful balance allowing farmers to continue to plant and cultivate their crops subject to appropriate environmental safeguards, while USDA conducts any necessary further environmental reviews”, according to proponents.
This Act has actually been floating around Washington since June of last year and those opposed to GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, have been railing against it from the start.
This latest outrage after Mr. Obama put pen to paper inspired a blog about GMOs from someone who has no stake in agriculture. Her pen name is Mockarena (Mock for short) on the popular site ChicksOnTheRight.com and she is the first to admit in her blog that she is not a farmer, nor a scientist and certainly not an expert on the topic of GMOs. But she was stirred to do some research. Her research stirred me to give her a call.
“My curiosity arose from that day in March where everyone was on Facebook was discussing gay marriage and changing their profile pictures to the red equal symbol,” said Mock. “In the midst of that we started getting a lot of posts on our Facebook wall that posted links to articles the President signing this bill and how gay marriage was nothing more than a distraction to the evil that was being done by the Monsanto Protection Act.”
That is when her research began. One of her points of reference was her father, who happens to be a geneticist.
Here are some excerpts from her blog:
I’m inclined to think that the reaction to GMOs today is a lot like the reaction to DDT in the 60s and 70s – and that a few decades from now, when there is a food supply shortage and regulations have strangled the farming industry to near-suffocating levels, people are going to wake up and realize, “Holy shiznit. We really screwed up here.”
Quick background: DDT was developed in the late 30′s as an insecticide, and in the early 40′s it was used extensively such that by the late 50′s, malaria was all but eliminated in the US and Europe. By the early 60′s, deaths from malaria in India had dropped from about 800,000 ANNUALLY to zero, thanks to DDT.
In 1970, the National Academy of Sciences announced that “to only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. In little more than two decades DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths due to malaria that would have otherwise been inevitable.”
The organic food-buying public has convinced themselves that “organic” means “pesticide-free” when that’s actually not the case at all.
But again, food and farm science? Not my area of expertise by a long shot. You can find links and sources which will argue the case for and against GMOs, but there was one that a clever and competent reader sent to me that really stood out.
Mark Lynas is an environmentalist who helped start the anti-GMO movement in the 90′s. And very recently, he has apologized for doing so.
Now, I don’t agree with Mark Lynas on everything, but he’s right when he says, “we are going to have to feed 9.5 billion hopefully much less poor people by 2050 on about the same land area as we use today, using limited fertilizer, water and pesticides and in the context of a rapidly-changing climate.”
And you know how we WON’T do that? By adding more regulations, more restrictions, and more strangleholds on biotechnology. Organic farms have nearly a 50% lower yield than conventional farms. We need a way of feeding an ever-increasing population, you guys.
As for the response that Mock has received after writing this blog, she says it has been mixed.
“We have had a lot of people that have been very angered by what I said and told me I was wrong,” said Mock. “Some said it is just not possible for something that is tampered with to be good for you.”
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Mock shared that most of the support stemming from her post came from farmers, consumers and even scientists.
“It is clearly a way more controversial issue that I ever realized,” said Mock.
Her biggest take away from her research on GMOs is that what is happening now is a huge overreaction. She does note that when it comes to GMO labeling, she thinks there are some aspects that require further discussion.
“To me it depends on the labeling,” said Mock. “If the purpose of labeling is to frighten people unnecessarily that defeats the purpose. There needs to be some serious consideration given to how we approach making sure people are informed about what they are eating, but also being sure that we do not cause undue alarm.”
AUDIO: My conversation with Mock