Saturday, August 27, 2005

Go Slow on GMOs

The Lake County Record Bee published my letter to the Editor on Genertically Modified Organisms. For those who missed it, here it is:

Recently, some have suggested that GMOs are safe because humans have been involved in genetic manipulation for centuries. This argument is misleading and dangerous. GMOs are NOT the same as genetic hybrids.

Those who produce hybrids through pollination or breeding accelerate nature’s own processes. Nature has the opportunity to reject problems before they affect the whole system.

The mechanics of genetic engineering are crude and messy. Viruses are used to inoculate DNA from one organism into another organism in forced combinations, many unintended. The viruses, once released cannot be fully controlled. Only time will tell.

Genetic Engineering replaces nature’s wisdom with human experimentation and techniques and then releases the result into natural systems. The effects can be catastrophic and we are already seeing negative consequences of the early GMO “products”. Most importantly, mistakes cannot be recalled once they are introduced.

As one with a technical background, I am in awe of new scientific discoveries… and disturbed by how GMO technology is introduced by companies. Our community is in this together—we must consider the realities of Living Systems Science, which studies the whole picture over time rather than just the pieces today.

Through science, we know that organisms will evolve and adapt and reproduce and that one change affects the whole community of life. We also know that the genetic code is key—the blueprint for all of it. This code has behind it the wisdom of billions of years of interaction.

The risks of introducing GMOs into natural systems are huge. The Europeans and Japanese have decided to wait saying: “We will watch what effect these GMOs have on American children.”

I would rather risk a future of laughing at our caution than crying for our children. Wouldn’t you?

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is an ecological design framework inspired by living systems. The ethics, root practices and principles in permaculture can be applied to the garden, the farm, and indeed any living system including human structures.