Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Future of Food

We went to see The Future of Food, a documentary about genetically engineered food last night. It's a good flick and I highly recommend it.

I didn't know what it was really going to be about, and sort of assumed that it was going to be another 'horrors of factory farm' type documentary. Nope. It is much more smart and compelling.

It glossed over the necessary patent law issues (and I super-hate IP law, so wasn't much help) to really understand the situation. It also implied health effects that have not been proven (but also not disproven). I was aware of a lot of these problems already from when I worked at Farmers' Legal Action Group, and from my own reading. To people without this basic background, this situation might blow your mind.

There is some scary shit going on in the world of plants and farming. The shit spreads and can't really be contained. The U.S. doesn't work to regulate it at the behest of the massive agribusiness lobbyists and the consequences are potentially catoclismically severe. The designed sterility of the 'terminator gene' has freaked me out for several years because if it spreads to major world crops, We Are Fucked. The terminator gene makes the grain useable only as food, not seeds for the next years crops. It is specifically designed so that farmers must by seed from the producer the following year instead of simply saving some to plant in Spring. There is a distinct possibility that unstoppable cross-pollination will render all of the corn in a region, nation or world barren. This alone would be devastating -- imagine if it then jumps to wheat or rice or other important grains, too! Currently this hasn't happened, but I don't trust the businesses to diligently guard against it.

Anyway, check it out if it is playing in your area.

Oh yeah, even though it was the opposite of the intention of the creators -- I had the strongest urge for corn and Mexican food after seeing all of the images.


At 8:08 PM, Blogger annie said...

Hey, I just got my December issue of Bicycling and on p 37 there's a blurb about the Hbar! I remembered you talking about pegging your beer price to gas prices but I didn't know they were going to write you up. Way to be famous!

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Kati said...

Have you hear for this bicycle law firm in Oregon?

At 4:26 PM, Blogger michael said...

How do seed companies protect their seed crops from this terminator gene? After all, if they're selling hybrid (or GM-terminated) seeds, they have to have a continuous supply of non-hybrid (or GM-terminated) seeds. Maybe the same techniques would work to isolate the hybrid/GM crops and the onus of doing so should be placed on those growing such crops.

Obviously, for a small, independent farmer, having one's entire crop turned into ungrowable hybrids would be ruinous. To add insult to injury these same farmers can then be sued for patent infringment? Patent law is seriously out of hand and working against the very public interest it was intended to serve.

I'm not too worried about cross-pollination of GM crops to other types of crops (like corn to rice). discusses how this happens with closely related vegetables, but not with different types of vegetables. So GM bell peppers may affect non-GM jalapeno peppers, but won't affect tomatoes. I would think same would apply to grain crops (assuming corn, rice, wheat, and others are not closely related, of course).


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