Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are the latest food chains to announce they will no longer use foods produced from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMAs) in their restaurants. The first was Chipotle. Their marketing strategy is that modifying a food’s genetics is somehow harmful or filled with poison.
If that is the case, then nearly everything their restaurants have served since opening has been harmful. Genetics have been manipulated since the first caveman started keeping and replanting seeds from the tomato vine producing the best tomatoes. Without genetic manipulation we would be eating steaks with a four square inch ribeye, slicing two inch diameter tomatoes for our hamburger and eating a five inch long corn on the cob.
The big issue is apparently how the genetics are modified. In the liberal mind manipulation through physical trait selection is good, but mechanical manipulation is not. When asked why, if there is an answer it is that modifying the gene through direct change is not “natural.” When asked what is different, I rarely get an answer.
Here is an example. Dwarfism in Hereford cattle was an inherited trait. Hereford breeders worked diligently for over 30 years to get rid of that trait, sometimes at the expense of desirable traits. My question is, if the gene could have been modified mechanically to rid Herefords of dwarfism, would not that have been faster than 30 years of trial and error? And secondly, would not some of the desirable traits that were lost over that 30 years have been retained? Next, how much economic loss could have been avoided if the trait could have been eliminated rather quickly? And finally, would the end result of Hereford cattle being free of the dwarfism gene be any different with mechanical rather than physical manipulation?
It is rather ironic that those same people who make GMOs out to be all bad are the same group that bemoans dwindling resources that will be compounded by climate change. It is true that arable land is dwindling as cities build over productive farm land. It is also true that there is more demand than ever for water. It is also true, to a lesser degree, that non-point specific pollution from crop runoff occurs.
Does it not make sense, then, to grow crops that produce more with less need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers? How does that occur without modifying the crop seeds available today? The fastest way to do that is by mechanical genetic manipulation. Admittedly, not all manipulation is successful, but that which does not make economic sense is abandoned.
You would think that environmentalists would be on board with such research because it creates products needing less chemical applications. Apparently, that is not the case. In their perfect world, everything would be grown organically. Never considered is the fact that growing organic crops is far less efficient. Consumers want consistency between and among produce and they want them bug-free. Unfortunately, for organic crops to meet that criteria they must grow much more because there is generally less consistency within a crop and between various growers. Natural fertilizers do not provide the same result as commercial ones, and there is more pest damage to organics. That requires a surplus to be grown where damaged or smaller product is often not utilized. That surplus, of course, uses more land, labor, and water.
I am not against organic foods. If someone wants to spend the extra on organics, good for them. Just don’t engage in the liberal mindset that requires everyone else to conform also. Many cannot afford that luxury. Don’t deprive them of wholesome food just because you don’t agree with GMOs, at least until you can articulate a factual reason that makes sense.
There is a lot of hunger in the world. Many of those who are starving would welcome foods that are grown from GMO’s. They would like to be able to grow food that is disease resistant, needs less water, and wards off common pests. Yet liberal GMO haters would deprive them of that chance.
I suspect struggling restaurant chains are announcing their avoidance of GMO grown food as a marketing ploy. If they think GMO free will boost their bottom line, fine by me; however, I for one will not be patronizing them. I would rather have a steak, medium rare, with a 12-inch ribeye, alongside an eight-inch corn on the cob and a five-inch homegrown beefsteak tomato. But that’s just me.
Tom Riggins is an LVN columnist, and he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org