Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On genetically engineered crops (after my Geography of Food and eating class today)

Oh, the things that make my vagina wiggle about every which way... food, anal, politics, great sex toys, and pseudoscience.

Below is a little response to a lecture I had today in my Geography class. 
My professor is amazing; spirited, intelligent, and she smiles a lot (something I just can't appreciate enough from others).
I've really enjoyed my time in class so far, and I'm learning a fuck-ton about the links between colonialism and its effects on eating, globalization trends and food, the effects the private sector has on food disparities, the ethics of patenting life and commodifying the very things that we need to live, etc... it's fascinating stuff.
The one downside is that my professor seems biased on the genetic engineering front.... we spent a half hour in lecture going down a long list of "why people think this shit might be bad," and never really showing the overwhelming scientific consensus saying pretty much the opposite. Not even a little bit. We only learned opinions, not any hard data.
Now, I can't say shes in the wrong about trying to show us different sides of the argument, as plenty of folks have reason to hate/distrust, or question huge multinational corporations who are linked with a crappy past. 
Monsanto may have mass-marketed LEDs, universally used plastics, and countless other breakthroughs we rely on every day, but they also contracted to mass-produce agent orange and DDT back in the day, so I get why they have a bad rep. (Even though Id argue the use of DDT has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and is the most amazing weapon against Malaria we've seen to date.)
Many others rightfully question the efficiency and ethicacy of our government regulating system, and I get why... the feds also gave a thumbs up to secret syphilis inoculations within marginalized gruops, so yeah, again.. shitty ass rep; but I still felt the lecture was very misleading to others in the classroom who know little to nothing on this stuff. 

There is a very large number of people (scholarly scientific type people) that say over and over again that use of transgenic crops are much safer than their "organic" counterparts, most simply because they're so intensely studied and manipulated with crazy precision. Organics, particularly those produced through mutagenesis, can't say they've been tested for any kind of safety standards like transgenic are routinely. We're talking 7 whole years until a patent makes it from lab to market... that's a lot of knowledge about a plant!!
I'm only an anthropology undergrad, but from all I've read from peer review, done projects on, and studied in depth from those well-versed on the science, I can only say this is some of the safest, most studied stuff in the history of mankind. 
Thousands upon thousands of papers, countless research.. hundreds and hundreds of independent studies outside the corporate world, and the potential for so, so SO many lives being saved, and we try to ban it!?
I would have loved to see golden rice covered in the slides, as this seems very pertinent to the class material, but it didn't. 
I know genetically engineered crops aren't any sort of magic-bullet solution to all of humanities many food security issues, but can we please at least make educated decisions about how we want to further the issue of transgenic crops instead of believing these nutty documentaries and hyped up media titles? It's good to hear both sides, but this class only heard about the nutty riots, marches, a few of the only protesting farmers on the topic, and none of them were based around accurate date.. literally NONE of them. Oh, internet... I love you so so much, and I hate you so much for letting loonies spread propoganda, pseudoscience, and go on about topics they know little to nothing about :/

Also, as a side note, as some of my bloggy followers may or may not know.. I lead the 2015 Seattle counter-protest for March Against Monsanto earlier this year, called March Against Myths about Modification; we had some bad-ass scientists come out to share in the march, charged up grad students, and some animal-rights activists (me included) show up to publicize VeganGmo.com, the wonderful Biology Babe joined our group, Bill Nye made an appearance in our Chicago Branch, and countless other amazing science-forward individuals showed up to make a case for the humanitarian necessity genetic engineering can bring; especially to those non-white folks with actual scary hardships living without all the privilege we have here in the US. As if we get to protest others rights to food choices! 
It's just something else seeing the March Against Monsanto group outside the Bill and Melinda Gates building.. blows my mind how privileged white girls can protest sending lifesaving food crops to sub-saharan Africa. Super classy.
Golden rice stands out as the most influential at the moment by far; (oh, and by the way, fuck you, greenpeace! "Let's promote blindness!!")

I'm on a lot of banned lists, and I have some things on the internet that would probably get me in legal trouble if the right people happened upon them, but dammit... I'm not going to stand around and let fear of the unknown prevail. 
I'm about saving the most lives RIGHT NOW, and stopping the most suffering we can RIGHT NOW by convincing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and SouthEast Asia to not ban GE tech simply because rich white girls from Evergreen and aging hippies with their kayaks in for repair (the entirety of the folks we saw at the protest) don't like it's politics or ideology. Tell this to the Starving kids in war-torn DRofCongo.. tell it to their faces... see how awesome your white priviledge looks on you then. 
This technology can potentially save millions, and to be against it for false reasons is just the most backward garbage I've come across in a long time. People are dying. 
Use your privilege to study the science and come up with other creative solutions if you don't like transgenics, but do it because you actually understand recombinant dna technology, and not bc you just watched some idiotic propoganda-promoting alarmist documentary film spouting lies, crazy people, and outright fake stats to make a buck.
So, in the spirit of my rambling vomit.... here is what I sent my professor...
*Just wanted to throw a few facts around from our lecture today (8/4), and dispel a few myths:

Monsanto has made a pledge to never release terminator seeds to the public ---->

Monsanto has never sued farmers who had patent seed on their land due to contamination -------> 

There has been a vast scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered crops for some time now, and after thousands of papers topic, there has literally never been a link indicating they pose health risks or allergenic properties.
(There was one exception linking cancer, and it was later retracted ------> 

First, Pew Research ---> http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/pi_2015-01-29_science-and-society-00-02/

European Union Commission ---> http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf

American Medical Association ---> http://www.isaaa.org/kc/Publications/htm/articles/Position/ama.htm

National Academy of Sciences ---> http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309092094

World Health Organization ---> http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/biotech_en.pdf

Food and Agriculture Org. of the United Nations ---> http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y5160e/y5160e10.htm#P3_1651

Toxicological Sciences Position Paper ---> http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/71/1/2.full 

"Science, Safety and Trust" ---> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584506/ 

"20 years of research" ---> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23414177 

"Polarized debates, not GMOs, are the poison to be avoided." ---> http://www.nature.com/news/poison-postures-1.11478 

...and if these papers aren't enough, here's a giant list of 1,783 more studies saying GE crops aren't harmful to us or environment ---> http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Ge-crops-safety-pub-list-1.xls 

Okay, all done :)
I'll post her response next... (spoiler, its not super surprising or fact filled, but I do commend her in trying)

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