Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's Worse - Cloned Cows or GM Vegetables?

I noticed the other day that the Food and Drug Administration concluded the meat and milk from cloned animals is as safe as meat and milk from conventionally bred animals.  I've read some blog entries and listened to some news reports on the subject and have spent some time thinking about it. While I am not a geneticist, I personally have concluded that this is not a positive development. I am likely to agree based on my knowledge that it is no more dangerous in the short term than conventionally bred animals, but do believe that it has significant long term risks to the worlds food supply. The reliance of any significant portion of our food supply means that particular portion is at greater risk to disease due to its lack of genetic diversity. In some cases this disease risk can result in a decrease in food supply, if that population should be wiped out, but more obscure would be the evolution of a new non-fatal hidden disease such as BSE (Mad Cow disease). As seems to be the case with government policy as of late, everything is focused on the short term.

What I think is far, far worse than cloned animals in our food supply is genetically modified foods, specifically those including pesticides. For some time now genetically modified potatoes have been available. Some of these potatoes include genes from an extremely toxic pesticide. The result is that the pesticide is inside the potato so that if the bugs eat the potato, they will die. The potato is so toxic that it is regulated by the environmental protection agency instead of the food and drug administration. The potato was being used in the french fries of a major global fast food chain until public outcry caused them to stop.  The potatoes are still sold in supermarkets where you as a consumer have no way of knowing that you are buying toxic potatoes. Oh, did I tell you that they can be sold as organic since pesticides are not applied to them? I hear the small government champions saying to let the market decide, but the market can only decide if information is available.

The two best books I've read on our current food chain are both by Michael Pollan - The Omnivore's Dilemma and the Botany of Desire. The Botany of Desire discusses the GM potato in great depth.  They are both great reads.

In conclusion I am frightened by the acceptance of cloned animals in the food supply, but am completely freaked out about GM fruits and vegetables.

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

All this is a result of a multinationals being more powerful then the government. The long-term impact on human's health is unknown, because multinationals do not support those researches. Russian scientists though have proved the negative impact on humans health caused by GM vegetables. Thats where 'unknown' allergies and cancers com from..