If you’ve been watching the case of organic farmer Steve Marsh from Western Australia then you will have been witnessing some disturbing developments. Today the Glass Turnip is run across the genetic modification debate and we see some disturbing things.
The WA case involves organic farmer Steve Marsh losing his certification as an organic farmer because his crops had become contaminated by his neighbour’s genetically modified canola crop. If you want to read all the details of this and other problems with genetic modification check out the news story “GM Meets Organic” at http://www.wellbeing.com.au/latestnews .
What the glass turnip wants to shine light on though is the basic, horrific, misconception that underlies genetic modification.
GM foods result from corporations funding research that allows them to then own a particular form of a crop. Often the modification involves making a strain of the crop that is resistant to pesticides or herbicides. This makes the GM crop superficially attractive to farmers initially. In the long run though, as the “GM Meets Organic” story illustrates, GM crops usually create problems of their own and create economic disasters for small farmers in their wake (such as has happened in India).
So here are the two fundamental problems with genetic modification. First, you can’t mess with one part of the ecosystem in isolation, the manipulation of one part will have wider unforseen implications. Secondly, it is morally reprehensible for a corporation to own the rights to a food.
Looking at this through the insightful prism of the glass turnip, you can’t escape the fact that food is a basic human right and parts of the food chain should not be owned by anyone.