I read that a local environmentalist group has devastated a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) testing field in Pili last August, I was embarrassed and saddened.
A testing field for a GMO called the Golden Rice was destroyed. The rice apparently is enriched with beta carotene to combat Vitamin A deficiency; a common cause for blindness.
I do, like most people, care for the environment recognizing that we are in every bit affected by what happens to it. A natural extension of this is a concern about the effects of the proliferation of GMOs.
|Promise of a brighter world|
To be honest, I used to be reluctant about GMOs. There were a lot of questions surroundings its safeness both for the environment and the people who plant and consume it.
Decades have passed and thousands of studies have been done and there still aren't any concrete proof saying it is harmful to humans.
It could be that it is too early to tell if there are long term health consequences in taking GMO's but in the meantime we cannot let millions of people go hungry due to lack of affordable food if the technology to make them cheaper is here.
It's a question of probable risk against actual consequences.
Environmental tolls on the other hand are real; although honestly speaking it is the lesser of two evils.
The Green Revolution that multiplied the outputs of the rice fields uses pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers which can pollute streams and potentially devastate local animals and plants.
The flip side though is catastrophic.
In the very, very unlikely event that we don't have any storms, floods or drought to devastate our soon to be developed perfectly irrigated farm fields it still wouldn't be enough to meet the demands of a bigger and richer world. The arable fields we have just wouldn't be enough.
Organic farming which is touted as the panacea means we would have to cut down millions of trees and thousand of hectares of virgin forest to meet the growing needs of the world; that would hasten species lost by destroying their natural habitats and increasing the frequency and intensity of flooding due to the trees lost as well as speeding up global warming.
Lastly, the contention that GMO's would impoverish farmers isn't always true. Though the cost of artificially modified seeds can be daunting at first the anecdotal instances where farmers are poorer tend to stem from greed and ineffiencies.
True a lot of high yielding crops are patented and adds cost to poor farmers but patents expire and the seeds potential won't. It would be ideal if an unbiased, altruistic organization spearhead the GMOs research or even the government but in the meantime companies who controls the majority of high yielding seeds must be regulated and a line must be drawn on what cannot be patented.
With regards to the Golden Rice seeds this last argument is moot, the seeds are managed by International Rice Research Institute meaning if it does pass the necessary tests; poor farmers would have access to it.
Considering that population growth is a very real factor for the world compounded by the malnutrition experienced by millions of people worldwide; GMO's offer a real solution.
It has worked before, the world has more than doubled its agriculture output in the past due in part to pioneers like Norman Borlaug.
Mr Borlaug work has saved billions of mostly poor people from death due to starvation. He has made food more affordable and abundant and has been widely recognized in preventing a much touted food famine in South Asia.
Meanwhile, organic farming and its market continues to be a past time of the rich countries. Mass produced, affordable staples is the fruit of the Green Revolution and it is a shame obscurantist in our country would deny our people of this technique which at the very least improves people's lives.
It is an imperfect practical solution but until a more viable solution is found we must continue what we can in saving people from preventable hunger.
''some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitist. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites...If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things
." - Norman Borlaug