Food and Farming
Long before human beings decoded the human genome or split the atom, they discovered that arsenic is very good at killing things. The ancient Romans prized it as a murder weapon because it could be mixed into food or drink without altering its color, taste, or smell. Plus, a tiny dose kills without fail.
This week, we’re running three commentaries and a cartoon regarding the growing number of genetically modified foods that land on our plate whether we realize it or not.
Meet the Arctic apple. In the field-trial stage since 2003, this fruit has had bacterial and viral DNA inserted into it — a genetic modification that prevents browning when bruised or sliced. One company, Okanagan Specialty Foods, has been testing these genetically engineered apples in New York and Washington — the country’s biggest apple-producing states. Now, they’re up for regulatory review by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
I’m going to sell you a food, but I won’t tell you what’s in it. Trust me, the ingredients are perfectly safe — but I absolutely oppose telling you what you’re eating. I also won’t let independent scientists study the ingredients. And I’m making a bundle of money by selling these unlabeled products. But trust me, they are safe. Go ahead, take a bite.
National brand-name conglomerates are in a bind over California’s Right to Know Genetically Modified Food Act, a measure known as Proposition 37. Actually, it’s a double bind.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle are planning to shamelessly take advantage of the devastating drought and stick taxpayers with a bloated, wasteful Farm Bill. This trillion dollar bill won’t fix the drought, but it will put taxpayers in a fix.
Mother Nature found a cruel way to demonstrate the difference between political rhetoric and reality when this summer’s record-breaking drought coincided with the writing of a new U.S. Farm Bill.
Although my Mississippi community has fared pretty well this summer, the worst drought in a generation is jeopardizing more than half of U.S. cropland. Thousands of farmers are facing tough decisions, especially if they own livestock. Dairy farmers face a triple threat — feed costs are at record highs, heat stress is reducing milk production, and dairy cooperatives aren’t paying enough for wholesale milk, thanks in part to failed policy. Some farmers are seeking hay, grain, or silage to feed their cows; others are selling now to cut their losses.
Food geneticists, for example. These technicians have the smarts to tinker with the inner workings of Momma Nature’s own good foods — but not the smarts to leave well enough alone.