Yesterday I went to the panel discussion and movie “Food Evolution”, about Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) issues.
Some say “yes”. Some say “no”. I say “smokescreen”.
There real issue is overpopulation. The agricultural details, like GMOs, organic farming, and local production, are waves on the shore. Population is the rising tide.
They say: We will have however many billion people by the year twenty-whatever. So we need GMOs (or not) to feed them. So. Now, say, it’s twenty-whatever, and the people are sitting around, happily eating their GMO crops (or not). Game over? No. That vast population will continue to overpopulate to the year 2100, 2200, or however long they can get away with it.
One of the panelists talked about India, where farmers pirated the BT cotton, and now production is up a big chunk of percent, and pesticides are down a big chunk of percent. It sounds like the numbers, if anybody was keeping the numbers, when the potato first came to Ireland. What’s going to happen when the insects are all resistant to BT (as is already happening) and the weeds all shrug off Roundup (as is already happening)? Just waves on the shore, at an ever higher tide line.
I got a key point about population from the subtext of the movie, “Like Water for Chocolate”. Romance aside, the family dynamic was that the matriarch pressured her youngest daughter to stay home as caregiver. Third world people are not dumb. They don’t have a whole lot of kids just to be contrary. In the desperate equation of their world, a whole lot of kids makes it more likely one will be around for parents’ old age. In a culture with no pension, retirement, or health care, it’s the available option. Overall, there gets to be more and more people, and the equation grows ever more desperate. This is just one of the intractable Catch-22s of population.
GMOs are going to come because some, like the Rainbow papaya, are just too good. Estimating by how these things usually go, I bet there will be one or two “gotcha”s, where some dire thing like mad cow disease will emerge, due to one particular GMO crop. And this will prove to the opponents it’s Armageddon. Until the general populace forgets about it, and life goes on.
Anyone considering getting into the GMO debate, on either side, should just skip it. Work on population issues instead. GMOs are fun because there are fingers to point, and laws to pass, and lots of theater. Overpopulation is no fun because, in the words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”