Saturday, July 28, 2007

Throwing the Baby out with the Bathwater.....

I was in a Reliance Fresh outlet yesterday, shopping with a friend and we came to a rack of Luscious Red Apples which my friend took a look at and rejected immediately- "Not Natural" he said and added "Genetic engineering" with a look of distaste. And this from an engineer. Well, we spent the rest of the afternoon arguing the merits/demerits of "Genetically Modified Foods". And I think its time I spelled out a few truths here for the benefit (torture) of YOU , my faithful readers.

Leaving aside all that you read and hear on Television from the likes of Vandana Shiva, just stop a minute and ask yourself- Do you really believe that whatever food you eat is completely organic? without any contaminants/chemicals? and naturally available? Sorry folks, sorry to disabuse you of wrongful ideas (or not sorry) but the wheat/rice/any cereal you eat today wouldn't survive a single day out in the wild. Thats right - try planting it in your garden and see - it will disappear almost immediately and it just cannot survive without assorted weedkillers/insectides every step of the way. In fact you have to take better care of it than you did for your baby. And it doesn't strike many people that what we are eating is a highly evolved, genetically modified descendant prdoduct of a once naturally existing (a million years ago) wild plant type - every self respecting farmer/gardener from the time of the Babylonian Civilzation in Ur to the modern day organic producers have modifed (the species) genetically using Natural Selection (remember good ol' Darwin?) for high yield/pest resistance and various other factors. Thats right folks- what we have been eating for a long time now is Genetically Engineered food.

The difference is in the depth of technology - previous versions of the technology used trial and error empirically while now we have the technology to go right down to the genome level and do our stuff - using enzymes like DNA Poymerase and Reverse Transcriptase. We can remove all the bad aspects of the DNA like - causing allergies to humans, vulnerability to climatic changes and variations in taste/colour as easy as whistling. We can add Vitamins and essential nutrients and make fruits and vegetables even more nutritious than nature intended and thats not such a bad thing is that? We can improve the yields enormously and prevent loss due to weeds/pests and transportation and that does no harm too, right? And provided that certain basic issues are clarified right at the outset with good Governmental oversight (the vector of tranmission- should be bacterial rather than viral) which are all purely technical details - there willbe 0% chance of any untoward happenings in human ingestion. And just remember that the use of Gentically modifed food will reduce/eliminate the need for chemicals like pesticides (urea/ddt) and ethylene - used for ripening mangoes?

Then why the bad press?- the answer's simple - it's primarily due to an incredibly stupid company called Monsanto and its greed to control/dominate the food market- which I will continue to tell in a separate blog tomorrow...... (I hope I have not scared you off from my blogs with weighty issues....?)

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