Unintended consequences just like the killer bees

The AM Costa Rica article, “Maize genetics debate pits science against emotions,” is more true than perhaps the A.M. Costa Rica staff realizes. The article, in fact, is not only guilty of its own headline, but further smudges the issue by inserting a political bias.

In the fourth paragraph of the article, the authors choose to label one of the opponents of GMO’s as “left-leaning.” A more fair and balanced review of the GMO issue would have mentioned that the major theme of the article was based upon critiques from right-wing journalists whom the article entitled, “Scientists Smell A Rat In Fraudulent Genetic Engineering Study.”

Upon exploring these citations, the reader should wonder whether or not these scientists have been ‘influenced’ or incented in some way by GMO corporate interests much as scientists have been used by the tobacco industry for their vested interests. Why did AM Costa Rica chose to report in so little detail just exactly what the scientists of the rat study wrote in their response to their study critics? In fact, after reading the refutations, the reader may conclude that the “right-wing” scientists’ criticisms are unsupportable and suspect.

The article also uses the statement, “Ironically, genetically modified crops most likely are part of the daily diet here” [and elsewhere around the globe] to justify the introduction of more GMO’s. Isn’t this specious reasoning? Why should any society continue a potentially harmful or devastating worldwide practice just because it’s being done already? The fact that GMO crops are more productive or that less herbicides and insecticides are not needed, is not the most important issue that is presently being debated in Costa Rica.

Why didn’t the article also make reference to the many other scientific studies and data that point to the dangers of GMO crops? For instance, there are now concerns about a newly discovered virus within a majority of the GMO crops that may or may not be harmful to humans. Shouldn’t this virus be further studied before we are further subjected to GMO crops? See this study.

Why was no mention made of “super weeds” that are now “galloping” throughout the Midwest and South of the U.S.? Just like strains of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, these super weeds have become resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) used on Monsanto’s corn and soy GMOs that are engineered to survive Roundup? “Nearly half (49 percent) of all U.S. farmers surveyed said they have glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34 percent of farmers in 2011.

Resistance is still worst in the South. For example, 92 percent of growers in Georgia said they have glyphosate-resistant weeds. But the mid-South and Midwest states are catching up. From 2011 to 2012 the acres with resistance almost doubled in Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana. It’s spreading at a faster pace each year: Total resistant acres increased by 25 percent in 2011 and 51 percent in 2012. And the problem is getting more complicated. More and more farms have at least two resistant species on their farm. See this study reported in Mother Jones.

In 1957, the Brazilian government allowed biologist Warwick E. Kerr to import into Brazil 26 Tanganyikan queen bees to create a bee that was more prolific in making honey and better adopted to the tropics. He assured the government that it was safe to do so. Despite his best attempts to keep them in his facility, we now have Africanized bees throughout much of South and Central America and within the borders of at least eight States and spreading. There are many other examples of intentional animal and plant species’ insertions into foreign environments that have gone very wrong.

We are now being reassured by vested interests such as Monsanto, who is one of the worst corporations on record for lying to governments and the scientific community, along with their cadre of scientists, that by planting “experimental plots” in Costa Rica and elsewhere the original genetic heirloom of corn and other endemic species will not be cross-pollinated and thus forever changed. Do they indeed have a plan that will without question completely protect related endemic crops from all types of pollinating insects and winds from dispersing the GMO pollens?

Emotions, and especially politics, should be taken out of the scientific debate on maize genetics and they certainly should not be included in supposedly unbiased journalistic reviews of such.
Gene Warneke
La Garita

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