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Should We Grow GM Crops? by peter tyson
You Decide, Then Vote Online

Set #1: April 24, 2001
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Readers Against Growing GM Crops | Readers in Support of Growing GM Crops | Readers Addressing Other Issues


Readers Against Growing Genetically Modified Crops

I strongly feel that GM crops should be kept out of the food supply. Certified organic farming is the way to go to ensure sustainable agriculture, which leaves a small footprint, is environmentally friendly, and produces safe, healthy, pure food.

I feel the NOVA/Frontline special "Harvest of Fear" was very well done, as it was in-depth, complete, and presented a balanced, fair overview of the arguments pro and con for this Brave New World of GE technology. However, even the best of the arguments for this can be easily countered with better arguments against.

The bottom line is that Nature is wiser than man, and we need to know and respect our limits. The quest for knowledge is not wrong, but how we act on that knowledge can be. Genetic changes occur in nature after many, many, many years of evolution and natural selection. For us to tamper with this process in this qualitatively new way is very dangerous.

Sometimes the way humankind interacts with Nature is like the way a two-year old behaves upon discovering a loaded gun in a shoebox. We take the gun in our hands, and we know not the power we are holding. Nature is the parent in this case and we need to listen very closely, because if we do, we will hear her saying "Put the gun down."

Edna Whisler
St. Petersburg, FL

Biotech companies like to pretend that they are the good samaritans, the Mother Theresas of the world. Why, then, is profit a major concern? Why haven't we seen any plans on how the companies are going to make GM crops financially affordable to the "starving nations?" And why, why, why, are there no labels on GE [genetically engineered] foods?

The truth is, nobody knows for certain what the future holds. We can speculate, but until rigorous testing is mandatory and all possibilities assessed, we just don't know. This is the biggest argument against biotechnology.

Kat Koch

Why don't we spend our time and money learning to manage the resources that we already have, instead of trying to invent new ones? I'm sure that if we took 10 years to do that we'd have many more benefits, with much less risk!

When do we stop thinking in terms of money and the present, and start thinking in terms of the future? If all the money suddenly disappeared off the face of the planet, how would we think about things then? Plants, viruses, water, soil, and all but one animal don't care about money!

Lisa Spangler
Austin, TX

There is nothing done by GM crops that cannot be accomplished through conventional breeding and ecological management, if the money for research and outreach were available. And there's the rub: There is no profit for large corporations or the university/corporate complex in a more natural approach. Ultimately, the question boils down to who will control the food system, profit-driven businesses or the rest of us (including small farmers). How many will starve because we can't afford GM technology (to grow food) or the food itself?

Dave Butcher

Your special was fairly balanced, but you did not do as good a job of finding the most articulate and respectable critics of GMOs as you did finding advocates. It's always easier to support rather than criticize the status quo. Your special left out many important facts in the debate, and your on-line quiz was incredibly slanted in the way it presented the potential benefits of GM crops as if there is scientific consensus that the benefits will outweigh the risks. It's always important to pay as much attention to the real history of how a risky technology has developed as to the claims of its proponents, and the history of GM foods has been one of hubris, condescension, and disregard for collective choice on the part of the companies and scientists promoting it.

It's not that I don't believe some of the scientists developing GM crops have the best interests of the world at heart (and conveniently for them, the best interests of society in their opinion correspond with their own best interests). It's just that they are not equipped to predict that a technology can solve world hunger when they are not trained ecologists, social scientists, or economists. They have no idea how issues of power, land tenure, social conflict, and social values will play out. They simply assume that if the food exists, the hungry will get it when, in fact, that has never been true. The Green Revolution already showed us how negative the unintended consequences of a new agricultural technologies can be, and how rarely the benefits play out as predicted by the scientists who developed them.

Just one example: the golden color of the much-touted golden rice was an unintended consequence, a completely unexpected phenotype. How do they know that the poor, malnourished people who would benefit from the Vitamin A are going to a) have enough money to buy it, and b) accept it culturally when it doesn't look like anything they've used traditionally? If golden rice is simply `given' to the people who most need it (in perpetuity? how much? for how long?), it would be the exception in the history of GM crops.

The proof is in the millions of acres of corn and beans that were foisted on the American people without their knowledge or consent. Corn is native to Mexico; the Mexicans developed thousands of varieties to meet a variety of environmental conditions. Now that we are dumping unwanted GM corn on their market, we have helped to destroy their local markets and their own food security. In the case of the golden rice, if they are given the seed, what's to say that they have the social institutions, the land rights, the capital, to maintain its production? What's to say that it will yield well under their particular environmental conditions, especially if they can't afford fertilizers or pesticides or the amount of water it requires?

I just spent two weeks in Chiapas, Mexico, and I have spent over a year in developing countries. I can tell you unequivocally that the majority of people, especially indigenous, don't want GM crops, and don't trust the scientists, businessmen, and economists of the West or their own Western-educated elites to have their own best interests at heart. That has been proven a vain hope too many times in their history. It's not that we are all evil or malintentioned. But we should give them credit for having a right to have a say in the matter, and see collective action for what it is -- an expression of strong social values that counter the imperfect measures of value and information that the market is able to capture.

Kristen Blann
Merrifield, MN

I cannot fathom how vastly dissimilar organisms could naturally produce offspring. Yet much of biotechnology, as it relates to transgenetics, depends upon isolating a specific gene from, say a corn plant, and inserting that gene into, say a tomato. Or consider the likelihood of a fruit fly's DNA naturally becoming a part of the genetic makeup of a banana. Even in a million years, I doubt if a corn plant would successfully pollinate a tomato, and I doubt if a banana will ever take to flight....

Do the research, I say, but do not thrust upon humankind GM crops without full disclosure and clear labeling.

It is world hunger that must be addressed: Poverty, not GM crops, is the issue. Sadly for the hungry, there's not much profit in poverty....

Lee LaVanway

I applaud you for taking on such a complex issue. Your poll was interesting, since it had six pages of pro-GM propaganda but still an overwhelming NO response. To be fair, you should do a six-page campaign that has the "other side of the story" and see if the minority who voted YES might be converted to a NO. I suspect they have not had access to info about organic farming and real effects on our health.

GM farming is an uncontainable situation from the standpoint of contamination and cross-pollination, which could be another holocaust for those of us with health problems. The bottom line is that I want the right to choose pure, natural, organic foods without GMO tampering.

The use of chemicals is rampant and controlled by big business, which will control GM to the detriment of humanity. Many of the studies you cite are funded by GM companies or have GM sympathizers on their boards. The studies of independent scientists (those free from political, economic, or power ties to big business) should be shown. Thank you.

Ellen S. Honey

GM foods should not be sold/given to the public without clear labeling!!!! It is worse than giving me drugs without my knowledge or consent. Where do we live, in a dictatorship where experiments can be carried out on citizens without their knowledge??? No one has a right to invade my body, and my offspring, in any way without full disclosure so that I have a choice. It is abuse of the worst order, akin to experiments during the Holocaust!!!

I think GM foods will be the insidious self-destruct mechanism of our civilization. When we realize what we have done, it will be too late. There should be more research, controls, and full disclosure on GM then there has been on anything on this planet for any purpose. There's no turning back.

Elaine Balling
High Bridge, NJ

My feeling is that genetically modified crops should not be grown. I feel that the combining of animal and plant genes are a substantial departure from hybridized plants. Introducing animal proteins into plants and therefore introducing proteins not previously a part of our food supply poses great potential danger. The position taken by GMO researchers that hybridized foods also introduce potential toxic foods reinforces rather than detracts from this position.

I do not believe that it is reasonable to think that any possible danger can be foreseen. While I do not believe that GMO researchers have anything but the best interests of the rest of the world at heart, I do believe that their enthusiasm for their technology has surpassed their wisdom.

While labelling should be the barest minimum requirement, I personally feel that GMO's should be banned outright due to the simple fact that once introduced, they are virtually impossible to retract. Crops spread all over the world and impact entire ecosystems, most likely in ways that the brightest of us could never predict. In this light, it would seem that labelling would provide a choice over GMO foods for only so long.

Thank you for this informative program. I have found it to be invaluable in making my own decision about GMO's. The question I now have is, "How can I personally help to get them banned worldwide?"

Craig Rockweiler
North Potomac, MD

First of all, thank you for a reasonably balanced view of the subject of genetically engineered/modified foods or transgenic organisms. As a citizen scientist, professional cook and writer, and life long student of food and culture, I believe advocates of this most recent agricultural technology avoid the fundamental issues of the impact of who owns and controls the processes of life. In my opinion, the patenting of life forms constitutes biopiracy.

Furthermore, this technology, besides being untested (contrary to claims made by Monsanto and other scientists and policymakers) and unlabeled, deals with the symptoms of the problems of hunger and environmental degradation. In fact, little research goes into nutritional enhancement, despite the hype promoting "Golden Rice," also known as the "Golden Hoax" by noted scientist and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva. However powerful and informative our scientific methods are, we need to use precaution as we unlock the doors to the mysteries of life.

Unfortunately, agencies of the government of the United States have abdicated their role as protectors of the common good. The recent announcement that the FDA will not require the labeling of foods containing GMO's is unacceptable. Labeling must indicate that foods contain genetically modified organisms. Anything else constitutes deception and avoidance. The revolving door between industry, research institutions, and government has seriously compromised their roles on these issues. Until independent, objective science can do the necessary work of testing for the safety of these organisms for human consumption, including the safety of our biodiverse communities, there needs to be a ban on the production and distribution of all genetically modified foods for consumption.

Tony Del Plato, coordinator
Ithaca-area Safe Food Campaign/Organic Consumers Association
Ithaca, NY

Remember the old saying "If it looks too good to be true...?" This is the first thing that comes to my mind when considering GMO's [genetically modified organisms]. I'm sorry, but there must be another way to control pests. Why not make a super-pesticide that takes care of the problem in one application and isn't harmful to humans?

It would be nice to see someone put this much time and effort into saving the rain forest, or in conservation of wild animals that are being poached and poisoned everyday in Africa.

Barbara Dixon

I don't believe a word that these GM companies say. They'll lie through their teeth to get what they want: large profits!

Eileen Cronin

Leave nature alone. God created the plants, He is the only creator. Man should stop trying to play God.

So many people have allergies now, could it be from the GMO food? People should be given a choice whether or not they want to put this man-altered food in their bodies. I am a vegetarian; I do not want a tomato with pig genes in it. Besides God has forbidden the eating of pig and other unclean animals that are scavengers to clean up the Earth. If Monsanto wants to continue with GMOs, let them, but give the public a choice of whether or not they want to purchase that product. Label the food!

There are many people in this world who are so busy that they put anything in their body, and they do not care, but they will reap what they have sown later in life. It is not fair to the health-conscience people to hide the GMO products. How can it be measured if people are getting sick from them if they do not know if that is what they have consumed? It does not make sense. In order to study it, it must be made known what the people are eating.

I thought the program was very informative and hope that it will be aired again soon so I can notify people to watch it. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to express my opinion.

Judy DeCarlo

Readers in Support of Growing Genetically Modified Crops

I strongly feel that the world cannot afford to not use "GM" crops. Of course, there must be careful monitoring and analysis of their impact on the real world, and any negatives must be addressed, but we cannot afford to "throw the baby out with the bath water."

Already the benefits of such crops are becoming crystal clear to those who care to but open their eyes and minds to the obvious facts. How can anyone who loves the environment (as we all must, since it is a common milieu for all of humankind) not choose the option of less pesticide use and fewer acres of land cultivated to grow the food needed to feed the billions of hungry mouths currently on this planet?

I know that there are those who decry the fact that there already are too many people on Earth, but which billion or two of people do we sacrifice to reduce the total number of humans who need to eat? Any volunteers?

No, to me it is clear, we need more science-based solutions like GM, not fewer. And this doesn't even begin to consider the more important aspects like the uplifting of the human spirit, which accompanies true inquiry and gathering of knowledge, unencumbered by arbitrary strictures based on superstition and fear of the unknown.

Joseph Borsa

Crops enhanced through biotechnology already deliver significant value and an improved environment to the farmer, his family, and the global food consumer. The massive reduction in pesticide consumption due to the adoption of biotech crops means that farmers are able to grow crops in a safer and healthier environment. This reduction in pesticide application also means that people everywhere can live in a cleaner and healthier world.

Through virus-resistant sweet potatoes and papayas, biotechnology is helping farmers in the developing world feed their families and their communities in an environmentally sustainable manner. The promise of vitamin-A-enhanced golden rice and mustard oil will also play a significant role in preventing blindness, illness, and death among women and children of developing countries.

Biotechnology crops have a proven pre-market and in-market track record of safety. Independent of industry, international scientific panels and regulatory agencies have reviewed the environmental and food safety data on biotech food crops and have found them to be both safe and beneficial.

Although the debate around biotechnology must continue in our free society, biotechnology applications in food and farming must ultimately be embraced. Today this technology is helping farmers economically and improving the quality of our environment. In the future, biotech agriculture will be absolutely necessary to meet the nutritional needs of a continually growing, ever-hungry global population.

Grant G. Prentice
Director, Global Consumer Research
Monsanto

Clearly there are issues to be addressed with regard to GM food (allergic reaction, effect on other life forms, etc.). However, for me the benefits (current and future) outweigh the potential risks (at least as I understand them now.) I found the interview with the women from Kenya (re: sweet potatoes) particularly compelling. Too often as Americans, who are whose supermarket shelves are well stocked and whose pantries are overflowing with food, we forget that for millions of people the promise of biotechnology truly is the promise of sustaining life.

Jane Cabot
BSMG Worldwide

I have just watched your program, "Harvest of Fear," and found it to be very informative and unbiased regarding the subject of GMO's. Thank you for continuing to produce these programs that help educate people about serious issues such as this.

The program in question has for myself raised many new doubts and many new affirmations regarding whether or not GMO's are a good idea. The points raised by the Kenyan Scientist I think have swayed my position toward the possibility that GMO's can be very helpful to humanity as a whole. Even though I am certain that with any new discovery there are risks, some potentially serious and dire, I think that the issues we know now, such as malnutrition, hunger, and helplessness, are far too serious for people to back away from a potentially helpful new technology.

History shows us that many new technologies and ideas intended to help humankind have produced catastrophic and disastrous results, but with every disaster comes a lesson that we learn from and in most cases, with time, we try not to repeat. As I found evident in your program, the industries behind GMO's seem dedicated to their research and the safety of the products they produce, if not for the safety of their customers and their customers' customers etc. then for the safety of their profit margins. In my opinion, either case makes no real difference.

Is it wrong to profit from helping people? Is it wrong to make huge capital gains from giving people with nothing their own means to create their own, even marginal capital gains? I am not totally sure but I tend to think that this is okay. Certainly it is better than to make profit from someone else's loss, as is evident in many corporate endeavors today. Could this, in fact, usher in a whole new trend in capital ventures? Is it possible? I am not sure, but I am one of the few people who have a little faith in humanity as a whole, but I am drifting from the subject.

Regarding GMO's, I think that companies should continue to produce them, but with strict protocols for continuing research toward new and existing areas, toward proper handling procedures, toward proper labeling of products containing GMO's, and especially toward the tracking of their production and distribution. If anything goes wrong with this technology, there must at least exist the capability to know that the problem was because of GMO's. If the protocols above are not followed in such a situation, the problem will have the potential to run out of control before anybody knows what caused it.

I think that the forces of Nature are still far beyond our capability to understand, but what I do know about the nature of living things is that they adapt, cannot be entirely contained, and for the most part are never completely within anyone's control. As humbling as this is, I think humanity has been given the extraordinary gift to be able to choose what rolls we can play in Nature. We should not refuse this gift, but we should also realize that with this gift comes a huge responsibility. I think that if people continue to use our influence over Nature respectfully and cautiously, while maintaining the understanding that what we put into it we put into ourselves, the future may be bright indeed.

Chris Klein
Victoria, BC, Canada

I am for the continuing research and testing of GMO's. It is obvious to me that GMO's may be profoundly beneficial for humanity. On the other hand, I do not believe that GMO's should be introduced without rigorous testing to ensure the safety of the product for our environment as well as humanity. When we as humans delve into the modification of our surroundings, we cannot ultimately be sure of the ultimate positive and/or negative effects. One merely need look at the massive damage to the environment for which we are responsible. At the same time, we need to support the continued research of GMO's, just as one would hope we would have supported Louis Pasteur's vaccine or the advent of pacemakers. In the end I believe we should seek to find a balance.

Anonymous

I felt that the documentary was quite excellent in stating the issues around GM plants and animals.

I feel that, despite working with the corporate and individual interest in a profit motive, the scientists involved in GM work are genuinely motivated by interest in humanity. For the CEO of Monsanto, within the bounds of his mission of running a multinational corporation, he is providing a truly valuable product to the world.

That doesn't mean that in all cases there won't be unintended, unforseen consequences resulting from real-world applications of GM. However, the potential benefit far outweighs the combined risks of action and inaction.

One constant theme of detractors of GM is that somehow Nature is being violated, and that Nature was pristine and pure before GM. The truth lies somewhere between the images of "man against Nature" and "natural harmony" -- in my opinion, not particularly closer to one than the other. Good ecology is not synonymous with anti-biotechnology. But asking more questions and reexamining specific cases is good.

I have faith in humankind. We are far from perfect. But I feel it is encumbent upon us to strive to acheive a balance in wielding the tools of technology in order to deal with what confronts us. If anyone remembers, improvements in medical technology, transportation, and technology have lead to the unintended consequence of reducing the checks on the expansion of human population. The population explosion far and away is one of the two utmost underlying stressors portending ecological castastrophe. The other is the high-energy path of the developed world, and frankly GM solutions can be a boon when dealing with viruses, as in the Hawaii and Kenya segments of the documentary. Golden rice should be done as well as crops that fix aluminum in AlO-rich soils.

I question the true underlying beliefs of all of your GM detractors. Each, I believe, is fundamentally politically motivated and ignores the truth on account of beliefs they themselves hold and will not examine.

Through their very own words, the most reasoned of the GM detractors stated that the promise of Third World applications were false, that starvation was an economic problem -- but I maintain it merely appears that way because agribusiness produces food so cheaply. I think Kenya, Mexico, and all nations of the world should be aided in research establishing GM solutions for their agricultural problems.

I believe the Mexican and the Kenyan scientists attemped valuable work, and that they are not pawns. The views they expressed were far more compelling than those of all of the GM detractors, and lacked the flawed, hidden agenda viewpoints inherent in the view of the GM detractors.

I think the USDA, FDA, and EPA have done an extremely good job in approving GM foods, despite the Taco Bell taco shell incident.

One thing lacking in your documentary was discussion of the digestion of food, and why GM food is not unsafe. While I merely hold a baccalaureate degree in science, I remember the answer. When I digest food it is broken down. Proteins themselves are broken down into peptide chains. Thus, when my cells replicate, the proteins that are assembled into my genes are not made from genes, but newly assembled. Thus, it would not be the case that GM-altered genes could even conceivably be expressed in my genes.

Why was this not explained in your documentary to your viewers? Greenpeace is irresponsible when it implies that GM food will cause "Frakenstein" people -- which is the underlying image of a "Frankenstein" Tony the Tiger. I say to the food industry, go ahead and label. I am unconcerned that I have eaten GM food, and will tend not to avoid food merely because it has that GM label.

Also, the researcher who did a small amount of biotech experimatal work on fish, and then went on to create a mathematical model, and voila, believes his work shows a huge danger, I cannot consider his work to be anything but flawed. Just the idea that he would take a linear mathematical expression as being representative of a non-linear situation, inject a number of questionable assumptions (like the lady fish mate only with bigger fish, based on their divine understanding of natural selections' intent). This man's work is the first truly charlatan work of the night.

The second truly charlatan work of the night is your progressive survey, aimed at producing an overwhelming negative vote against GM. I'm certainly not in favor of having epidemics of allergies, or any of the negative outcomes your survey discusses. But every issue has the potential of being addressed. Your survey panders to people's fears, and that it is has that underlying theistic underpinning that Nature is pristine. Nature just is. Your karma is that a tiger will eat you some day.

In sum, the danger here is not that biotechnology is inherently dangerous and should be railroaded by a fringe thinker like Rifkin. The danger is that the issue will be forced by emotion. I think the American public is capable of being smarter than that -- but it can be bamboozled, too. The documentary itself was very good, while not really presenting all of the case.

Gary Hill

Readers Addressing Other Issues

Like everything in life, GM crops are not good or bad. The key is to use them wisely.

Anonymous

While the danger of GM plants is obvious, and while the obvious profit motives of multinational corporations belie their so-called concern about world hunger, the social fact is clear: Major agricultural corporations do not care about world hunger, otherwise it wouldn't exist as so endemic for such a huge percentage of the world populatioon.

Shame on PBS for having its Web site so slanted in favor of the multinational corporations, and hurray for all the people who saw throught your editorial slant. And while I'm glad that PBS is taking on this urgent issue, perhaps your corporate funders are influencing your reportage?

Marshall Weber

I fully understand that GM foods are the future. They create big crop yields and are more cost effective -- big buisness always wins. But, as a human being with rights, I would like to know what I eat. If companies use GM foods, they must do research. This research should be made public. People should know what they ingest. If these GM foods are safe, then simply put a label on the food. Tell me I am eating a prduct containing a GM ingredient and list it. Why are companies afraid of telling people?

Paul Cisek

First let me compliment you on a well balanced and interesting program. It is refreshing to have information presented that allows people to see both sides of an issue without resorting to the hype we so typically see to increase a program's visibility and perceived value.

I do have a comment on your poll. I see your motive in ratcheting up the level of opposition to each step as you progress though the selection process for both pro and con views on the use of GMO's. I think it would have been better to contrast the pros and cons on the same page to give a person the ability to easily weigh each option. It seems the design of your poll is to change a person's opinion rather than find out what a person's opinion truly is.

George D. Bolton
Sebastian, FL

I am outraged and appalled to think that our government agencies would allow me to consume gentically altered food without my knowledge or approval. Don't I have the right to decide what I put into my body? How can I obtain a list of GM foods on the market? Thank you for airing a program on this subject. I'm going to tell everyone I know about this subject.

Anonymous

In looking over your recent on-line survey, "Should We Grow GM Crops?," I was struck by the wording of the first paragraph:
"... most academic scientists tout the benefits of genetically modified (GM) foods... With equal passion ...a handful of scientists warn of unforeseen health, environmental, and socioeconomic consequences."
As a scientist, albeit not a biologist, I have been reading the coverage of GM and related issues in scientific journals for the past five years. The impression that I have gotten thus far, is that the scientific verdict not only is still hotly debated, but that there are pretty even splits between scientific findings, even without accounting for the fact that the majority of genetic research is sponsored by biotech corporations and interests. (See for instance the four articles dealing with the Bt debate in the 26 November 1999 issue of Science, pages 1662-1668.)

Furthermore, in the absence of a general scientific advisory report, such as that done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where a demonstrated consensus by majority scientific finding was obtained, or a position statement made by a scientific society, such as that released by the American Geophysical Union and the Seismological Society of America regarding the scientific ability to monitor a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, I have not seen any evidence that would support the claim that "most" scientists are in favor of GM crops, while only a "handful" of scientists are opposed.

If I am in error, and a demonstrated majority of scientific finding is in support of GM crops, I would be very interested to see the reference. In absence of such reference, or very strong quantifiable support of your choice of wording, I find it shocking that an organization that is attempting to relate science to non-scientists via a popular medium would choose such a biased representation of scientific debate. I am also interested in knowing if Archer, Daniels & Midland underwrote production or distribution of this episode of Nova. I regret not having had seen the airing of the documentary, hence I greatly look forward to seeing a re-broadcast, and I hope that the representations are more clear than the above wording.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Eric A. Hetland
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The program "Harvest of Fear" was very compelling, disturbing, and made me very angry. It seems to me (a layman) that the arguments made by both the scientists who promote their genetic research and the corporations that reap the profits are nothing more than slick advertising.

There is not (to my knowledge) a scientist, Nobel Prize Laureate or otherwise, corporate CEO, or geneticist that can create corn, oats, papaya, or any other food in the laboratory. God, Natural evolution, or whatever power one might believe in has already done this, and done it right.

I believe that the basic problem in every facet of "mass food production" is the word `mass'. Simply put, the world has too many people to sustain. I know this is an extremely controversial statement but the evidence is everywhere (and you don't need a Ph.D. to see it). Way back when American farms were engaged in producing wholesome foods to feed themselves and sell the excess to other Americans (except for the Dust Bowl debacle) in a sustainable way. Then the corporate methods were promoted to the farmers to secure great profits by "feeding the world." This could be accomplished by using pesticides, fertilizers, etc. or otherwise growing food in places or on scales that nature did not provide for.

The shortsightedness of the corporate world has been demonstrated over and over in just the last century. I'm not a chemist and only 38 years old, but I do remember DDT, I am sure that there are many other chemicals that we (the people) don't know anything else about. I am so distrustful of any and all companies, and federal organizations that are lobbied with corporate bucks making these decisions for me when the only motivation is greed, stock valuation, and sales. There are so many examples of corporate (and special interest) greed outweighing common sense and good judgment I won't try to list them. Their (corporate) claims of nonprofit development for African sweet potatoes is suspect.

I do feel badly for those suffering famine in Africa, or any people or nation that is suffering from lack of food and the suffering that ensues. However, it only reinforces my theory that we (humankind) are living and overpopulating the Earth in places that can't sustain us in a natural way.

The solution is not to pollute and poison the land to `make' it produce for a short term; this is not a sustainable paradigm. I don't have all the answers, indeed maybe not even one answer, but I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt that population control should be the primary concern of every nation on Earth, because and in spite of our arrogance, we can't currently improve on the natural order and cycles of this planet. And until we can (which is probably thousands of years away), we should concern ourselves with moving our efforts to understanding this planet, and what it can and can't do for us, and live within these limits instead of trying to force nature to provide what corporations want their profits to be.

Nature has a way of ridding itself of nonsustainable organisms, and I feel very strongly that human kind is on the short list. We better stop wanting and consuming so much and learn to live with less or our children and their children will be paying the price for our perfect tomatoes and our GM taco shells.

Maynard J. Hartman, Jr.
Miami, FL


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