When maize first leaped from the new world and spread around the globe,
you could think of it as
pollution, or you could think of it as a normal consequence of human
agriculture, expanding to a more global reach. It comes with good and
bad. The good of agriculture is obvious - access to more food types -
a healthier human race with longer life spans - the ability to stay put, build cities, start
civilization. The bad
consequences are perhaps fewer - but it is possible that most of the bad
consequences are farther in the future - for reasons that are subtle and
hard to prove. I dunno, it has to do with the fact that biodiversity and the
genetic equation of Earth (at least up until recently) is a stronghold of nature, and the
distribution of genes has had a pattern in the world that evolved to
exquisite performance over billions of years. It is partially
responsible for the stability...dynamic equilibrium of the biosphere.
This is related to the scientific aspect of the Gaia hypothesis.
The largest ecosystem on earth is the earth itself.
Accidental gene flow is one thing - accidental gene flow with a Frankenstein Monster lurking within
the DNA is another thing entirely.
Some things that started to come together after reading Michael
Pollan's Botany of Desire..
Monoculture, or, the distinctly human affect on flora such that large
tracts of land are made to contain identical or near identical genes is
unnatural and leads to extreme situations, and requires maintenance.
But monoculture to some degree is a normal aspect of human
agriculture - on the small scales that it has been at for the last
thousand or so years, the impact on global ecology may be small. But it is
when it reaches an extent that has effects on larger ecosystems - that's the
problem/question? Monoculture and agribusiness...
Agribusiness requires predictability and sameness in its origin
commodities...opposite paradigm of organic farming:
small-scale by definition, genetically diverse by necessity, and
requires intimate knowledge of the integrated biological systems that
play into a crop's health and harvest. Two different paradigms. Neither
is better than the other - they are just different. And I guess
both will probably be with us for a long time to come.
A thought I wrote up last night...
I think locally-grown foods, organic farming, sustainable agriculture, permaculture,
from large-scale agribusiness - this is oddly
related to a recent event: the greatest blackout in history. How? We
need more local energy sources, less reliant on remote, semi-global
systems with huge power plants. The grid should rely more on sustainable,
renewable energy sources
like solar, wind, etc, and smaller, local electrical plants, dams, etc. Whatever.
In both of these basic human needs: food and energy, the globalization paradigm may not
be the best solution. Maybe that works better for other commodities/
factors of society. Food and energy are best when the source is close to the point of use.
In a way, food is a sort of energy, so both can be seen in the same light. Mother Nature has
created a trillion little batteries all distributed around the earth, in the form of animals
and plants. All the energy, in one form or another, comes from the Sun - even wind, indirectly.
I like this battery metaphor. When long-standing paradigms start to break down, it's often
Mother Nature who inspires the solutions. I look to her for everything - especially the food I eat.
This web site explains some of the more complex aspects of the debate:
Here is a huge archive of GM foods news. I think it's mostly anti-GM.
Here is something that tries to look at the pros and cons in a balanced
Here is some stuff on the pro-GM foods side:
Here is an interesting thing ranting about an award given to an organic
farm activist. Interesting to see the debate from this angle: