Have We Been Suckered by Biotech Firms?


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When I was a young nerd, growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, my favorite movie was Wargames. You know the one - brainiac kid, played by Matthew Broderick, hacks into a government war simulation computer by accident and almost starts a thermonuclear war. Before that happens in the movie, there is a haunting scene (at least for the teenager I was at the time), in which two nuclear silo guards are ordered to "turn the key" - which did not go well.

Human nature made one of the guards question the judgment of the order and the other pulled out his weapon to force the key-turn. This was a simulation, but it lead the government to take human judgment "out of the loop". In a way, this is surprisingly similar to what is currently happening with the genetically modified organisms that we are being forced to eat. There is a gun to our head and that gun is being held by the companies creating these organisms and the government officials that are in collusion with them.

These might seem to be strong words, but let's look at what is happening. Our food supply has been infiltrated by genetically modified organisms, yet we are not being told what they are. The government refuses to label the organisms because we are told that they are the same as the non-genetically modified versions. One must ask how, in that case, these organisms can be patented if they are "the same". We are being forced to abandon our common sense. We are taking our own judgment "out of the loop".

There are arguments that genetically modified foods are the answer for the upcoming global food shortage. None of this appears to be true. People have fed themselves and their local community for many years. We have created this scenario of a global food economy and are being lead to believe that if we don't get our favorite fruit from around the world that we will starve. This is simply not the case. We can adapt again to our local foods and do so organically. Organic farms are often more profitable and produce yields equal to or higher than genetically modified crops.

Are there food shortages and famines? Absolutely. If there is so much food then how are people starving? It comes down to the will or political might of people in charge to distribute the food that we have. Western civilizations are very good at getting food from halfway around the world to sell in our local stores. We are not very good at giving it back when needed or to create a sustainable infrastructure for those that farm our foods in different countries.

Creating a fair trade global food economy would help stabilize regions when there is famine or war. These people could purchase food back, learn how to dig better wells or get the tools to do so. There is a whole host of ideas for creating sustainable local environments. It's not easy, but it's probably what is best for the world.

But biotech firms tell us otherwise. We are supposed to believe that they have altruistic aspirations to feed the world. If that is the case, then why aren't they non-profit organizations? The fact is that these companies are unbelievably profitable. They might not always win their battles nor come out ahead, but they typically do and do so with great profit.

Their profit yields big political power in the US and abroad. This power comes out in the form of laws and regulations that often spit in the face of common sense. For example, deregulating genetically engineered alfalfa is going to allow for widespread planting of a crop that does unbelievably well without genetic engineering. Now, massive amounts of pesticides are going to be sprayed on these crops, which will cross pollinate to the non-GMO varieties. We are told that they wont, or it will be minimal, but the problem is obvious to anyone that didn't flunk seventh grade biology. Pollination happens, whether you want it to or not.

Biotech firms are entrenched within the government agencies which regulate them and even the supreme court itself. Politicians, officials and judges have direct ties to biotech firms. These ties are not hard to find. They are in the open and obvious, yet we are told to believe that our best interest will be acted upon. Common sense tells us that when there is a potential for profit, it will guide our actions, regardless of the goodness of the person.

We are an incredibly smart animal. We learn, we feel and we have a complex set of emotions, ideas and hopes for our fellow man. Unfortunately, getting suckered is also something that we do very well. If we don't get our judgment back into the loop, then what good can come from the sustainable common sense ideas that we keep within our own minds?

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