Monthly Archives: June 2015

Genetically Modified Food

Can we talk about Monsanto for a minute?

Everything you eat is a genetically modified organism. From the cows we have selectively line bred from wild ungulate, the chickens which there’s probably no accurate timeline for when humans removed from nature and began to bend to our uses as food producers, the pigs which we whittled from great ugly boars to be the various shapes and varieties of domesticated hog we’re familiar with, from the porcetta to the pet pigs. The sweet corn you eat is a human-created hybrid of a hard kernel corn that the native north americans had, with a softer kerneled corn that the europeans brought with them. Wild bananas are filled with seeds and barely nutritious. Wild apples have such incredible biodiversity it’d be a stretch to say even 1% of their wild types are human-food-compatible.

So do I believe that genetically modified food is bad for humans? Of course not. Drought resistance is a genetic modification we’ve made to food, pest resistance. Even food color, texture, ship-ability, all things we have chosen as humans as genetic traits we favor, cultivate and keep.

So now Lets talk about Glysophosphate. Glysophosphate is marketed in North America (and elsewhere) as Roundup. Which is a powerful, wide spectrum herbicide, used to unselectively destroy plants wherever applied, to clear land, to eliminate pest species and drive back invasive plants. Now lets talk about penicillin, azithromycin, erythromycin — powerful, wide spectrum antibiotics, used to unselectively destroy bacteria and other microbiological life wherever applied, to break down bacteriological overruns, detrimental biological outbreaks and drive back invading disease so our natural immune system can complete its job of healing. Both of these are powerful tools and have BOTH immensely increased the quality of life for millions if not billions of humans.

HOWEVER… If you talked to a doctor about making an azithromycin resistant form of bacteria, they would realize, beyond a shadow of doubt, that while we may learn something from the process of making this bacteria, that allowing that enhanced, resistant form of the disease into the natural world would necessarily come back to bite us in the ass. Period. You make something resistant to your most powerful tools and it will resist those tools whether in the lab or in nature, and the stressor of creating that resistance has also created dozens of other unknowable potential genetic expressions in the bacteria.

But that is exactly what Monsanto has done with its roundup ready crops. They’ve built plants that are hard to kill with the best tool we have to kill plants. And those plants have already hybridized with wild/non RR plants in the wild, transferring their roundup resistance, along with whatever other modifications were made, intentionally or unintentionally, from the laboratory right to the soil of the earth. The reaction of Monsanto to these hybridisations is yet _another_ indicator of how sick the ideals behind this creation are — they have sued the farmers whose plants are in fields adjacent to RR-plants, saying that those hybrids are Monsanto intellectual property and they should be compensated for them.

This is what I’m worried about. This is what needs regulating. This is what needs labels and investigative journalism. Fucking apple-fish-corn cars and Organic avocados and locavore kale can all go fucking die, because if we accidentally end up with a form of durum wheat that is round up resistant, has no nutritive value for humans because of other genetic changes, and can breed true in the wild? We’re gonna have dark days ahead. If we end up with BT-apples that are releasing nicotine analogues or other esthers we barely understand into our kids before they’re hitting puberty, we’re going to learn more about developmental disease than we ever have before. And the whole way, those that are the most impacted will be sued and harrassed and lose their worlds, and those who have the power to change thiswill be ignorant and distant and greedy and we will all pay for it.

This is what I hate about Monsanto.

What is right and prudent

OK, so again, we have another mass shooter in this country. And like last time, everybody (including me) wants to see what he looks like, see if we can judge the potential for evil in his face or his story. Now a friend was mentioning that this guy was the reason they believed in the death penalty, and I disagreed.

In the interest of being honest here and not just arguing about what I think is right, I wanna differentiate here between what I want to do, and what I think is right.

So if I were emperor right and they told me about this guy we’d flay him and my whole phalanx of dark hooded thugs gets do some shit that’d make George RR Martin turn white in front of the whole town and every video camera I could convince y’all to point at it. I’d yell THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DISOBEY THE LAW through a megaphone like the Lord Humongous and then everyone would rev their engines while monster trucks pull him apart right that’s what I _want_. I _want_ that spectacle to hearten the good people that crime is not allowed in My Empire and hopefully fearshame some potential criminals into future citizens, right? Ideally.

And only since I have lost the ragged-edged, fatalistic and bichromatic tunnel vision of my youth, I recognize that the part of my brain that wants to do that is the same part of the brain that told this guy that shooting these people was the right thing to do. It’s the same part of the brain that told millions and millions of Americans, on September 12th 2001 that the ONLY way we could FIX this was to GET OUR FIGHTING MEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST _IMMEDIATELY_. ANY PRETENSE. It’s the same part of my brain that tells me that when somebody goes 52 miles per hour in the fast lane of the freeway that the “right thing” to do for the world would be to run their car off the road, bludgeon them to death, find their wallet, go to their home, burn it down, and then scan the remains to make sure none of their progeny survive to breeding age. And in fact anything that subconsciously feeds this desire; that results in the instigator of a negative emotion in me “paying” for that transgression in corporeal form, is immediately five clicks more appealing, more logical. It gains ground in reason as I lose mine.

What I think is right, however, is to look at the statistics of programs that don’t include the death penalty, that have “dis-imprisoned” hundreds of thousands of white collar criminals who end up in prison over fines and fees they could never afford BEFORE they were a convicted criminal much less after, provided job placement, counseling, housing that transitions from full penitentiary to halfway house to supervised independence. Which really cares about rehabilitation and reintegration as opposed to retaliation and retribution, and seen what it has done to the countries that have implemented them. See what it means for their economies and their literacy rates and socioeconomic mobility. Then look at the statistics of countries which follow our format. Look at their recidivism rates, their percentage of GDP spent incarcerating their own citizens, look at their murder rates, their drug use rates. And the real thing I think is right is to listen to the specialists on this, listen to the researchers, and not listen to the sharp hard thump of my own terrified heart.