Part 2 of 2 in the “Designing Disaster” series.
Another problem we’re facing today is genetic pollution. Genetically engineered crops and life forms have the ability to transfer their altered genes via pollen and other means into their natural plant, animal, and bacterial relatives, altering forever billions of years of natural evolution. We are currently growing genetically engineered plants designed to produce toxins resistant to insects and viruses. The target insects have quickly become immune to these toxins, necessitating the use of new and more poisonous pesticides, which further pollutes the environment. Transgenic crops that are engineered to produce their own insecticides, are killing all manner of beneficial insects such as ladybugs, bees, and butterflies. When they pollinate with wild relatives they can kill all kinds of insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Keep in mind that we also consume these crops along with the toxins they were engineered to produce.
In the case of genetically engineered crops designed to be resistant to a particular pesticide or herbicide, it has been established that through pollinating weedy relatives they pass on their genetically engineered resistance to these toxins, thus creating “super weeds” that are also immune to these toxins. This creates the need to produce and apply more powerful and poisonous herbicides, which again further pollutes the environment.
Livestock are undergoing unfathomable suffering in a myriad of ways, thanks to the good folks at genetic engineering. Cattle that are engineered to grow massive muscles are crippled monstrosities, and many have to be delivered by Caesarean section due to their enormous size. The insertion of a suspected chicken cancer gene produces so called “Schwarzenegger pigs” that grow massive muscles, and renders them into sickly cripples by three months of age. The results of calves and pigs engineered with the chicken cSKI gene are catastrophic, including; abnormal crippling muscle growth, muscle atrophy, weakness, and degeneration. Engineered broiler chickens that grow 40% fewer feathers are ready for slaughter sooner, as they eat more, and grow faster, simply to keep warm. The genetic blending of two unrelated species has produced sheep-goat (or “geep”) and sheep-cow chimeras. Over twenty species of fish have been genetically altered including; Atlantic salmon, Coho salmon, Rainbow trout, Largemouth bass, and Walleye. Millions of these transgenic fish escape from fish farms each year and breed with wild fish, passing on their altered DNA and new diseases. They also out-compete them for food and territory, thus depleting native populations.
Many so-called “pharm” animals have been genetically engineered using human genes to produce pharmaceuticals and biochemicals in their milk and blood, and to produce organs for transplantation into humans. Millions of animals are genetically engineered with human diseases and sold to laboratories around the world for experimentation. This is all despite proof that treatments that are effective in animals are rarely effective in humans. The list of horrors just goes on and on, but since most people view animals as nothing more than products or commodities to be used and consumed, they remain unmoved by their suffering.
According to the American and Canadian Cancer Societies, Heart and Stroke Foundations, and Diabetic Associations, animal products consumption is the overwhelming primary cause of preventable death and disease. For those people who choose to ignore these grave warnings (the vast majority of North Americans) and feel the necessity to consume animal products, you’ll be pleased to learn that the technology now exists to clone beef, chicken, and pork cells. This means that we could abolish the factory farms that are destroying our water, land, and air, thereby eliminating the oppressively cruel treatment, transport, and slaughter of the billions upon billions of animals destined for your dinner plates each year. Nutritious, delicious, environmentally friendly, cloned substitutes would be made available in their place.
Eureka! At last I’ve found a truly benevolent and useful application for genetic engineering. So why isn’t it being used? My guess is that people are more comfortable being poisoned by the foods they’re familiar with, since they look no different from the foods they’ve always consumed. If they appear to be identical, it facilitates an effortless denial that they could cause any harm. This must be the reason the genetic engineering industry hasn’t pursued the mass production of this cell cloning technology. The profit margins would be astronomical. They could eliminate the factory farms and slaughterhouses. They could eliminate many food borne diseases, the use of growth hormones, antibiotics, and steroids. They could eliminate the cost of trillions of tons of grains used to feed livestock, the millions of tons of agricultural chemicals that modern mono-cultured crops require to survive, and significantly reduce the amount of fat present in the meat. The only thing preventing this revolutionary, ecologically beneficial technology is that people would know that it was genetically engineered, despite its conventional meat-like taste. As I pointed out earlier, this industry will do everything it can whether legal or illegal, to deny the consumer the ability to identify which products are genetically engineered.
…using human genes to produce pharmaceuticals and biochemicals in their milk and blood…
Who Controls the Food Supply?
It should be abundantly clear by now that governments and people are no longer in control of the food supply. The largest trans-national corporations from the pharmaceutical, petrochemical, seed and food industries have consolidated and merged into a relatively few new mega-corporations in the ironically named “life-science” industry. They include companies such as; DuPont Chemical Co., Monsanto, Novartis (the product of the merger between drug and chemical giants, Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy), Shell, Dow Chemical and AgroSciences, Zeneca, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, and Cargill.
These “life-science” conglomerates now have a complete monopolistic stranglehold on the world’s food supply:
- They sell of seeds (including “terminator” seeds that will only grow for one season, necessitating new seed purchases by farmers every season.
- They sell “verminator” seeds that will fail to grow to maturity unless sprayed with a special chemical triggering formula, which must also be purchased from the seed supplier).
- They sell chemical fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides without which their weak, mono-cultured, transgenic crops could not grow.
- They sell genetically engineered organisms and animals.
- They sell steroids and growth hormones which are used to increase the weight of food animals; to the selling of antibiotics without which modern livestock could not survive.
Finally, after years of consuming their poisoned food products, and yearly exposure to billions of tons of their toxic industrial and agricultural chemicals, these same “life-science” companies are trying to sell you the pharmaceutical drugs and medicines you will inevitably be prescribed in a futile effort to treat the afflictions and diseases.
The “life-science” industry has created for themselves a marketplace that is dependent on the purchase of their products in order to sustain life itself. Each step of the way has been calculated to extract a profit. To the bottom-line people it seems perfect. However there’s one major snag. It won’t last very long because it’s not sustainable. If you think this reads like bad science-fiction you’re only half-right. It’s absolutely bad science but it’s definitely not fiction.
As bad as all the pollution of our planet, and the abuses of all the lifeforms on it have been, they can all be reversed and corrected if we adopt sustainable organic agricultural practices. This would involve moving away from a culture dependant on the use of animal products. If we moved towards a culture based on sustainable plant products, we could easily feed double the current world population. There would be an immediate improvement in people’s health, a rapid decline of cancers, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. The forests and jungles would reclaim territory lost to the grazing of livestock. Extensive territories currently used to grow crops for livestock feed, which constitute the majority of crops we now grow, would also become available for natural regeneration. The air, water, and soil would de-toxify with the absence of livestock waste, and agricultural chemical pollution. All these things could be accomplished if we just put our minds to it. All these problems are reversible.
The release of genetically engineered plants and animals is not reversible! There is no way to recall genetically engineered living organisms once they’re released. They will become part of the eco-system. They will cross-breed with other life forms. They will mutate and spread their genetically altered DNA. Before long, life as we’ve known it from time immemorial, will cease to exist!
Many people are saying it’s already too late. This is exactly what the genetic engineering industry wishes the public to believe, since millions of hectares of transgenic crops are already in production. However, most of the more dangerous strains of genetically altered plants and animals have not yet been released into the environment. We are now at the crossroads and in the blink of an eye we’ll speed past the point of no return.
Science that is based on such a narrow, simple-minded, deterministic and reductionist foundation is bad science. Molecular biology and genetic engineering are built on shaky ground and they’re crumbling right in front of our eyes. This ecosystem we call our earth is being used in the ultimate experiment and every one of us are the unwitting guinea pigs. There will be no findings or follow-up from this experiment. There will only be the end.
I urge each and every one of you to educate yourselves, and each other, about the threat we face from genetic engineering. It is imperative that you question your politicians on this issue. Demand that a moratorium be placed on the release of genetically engineered organisms. Demand to have existing products that have been genetically altered, labelled as such, or withdrawn from the marketplace. Demand the abolition of the right to claim patents or intellectual property rights on living things. Demand they set up independent panels, including opposing scientists, laypeople, ethicists, and philosophers, to investigate the outrageous claims made by the genetic engineering industry. Finally, demand that they begin actively supporting and subsidizing sustainable, chemical free, genetically natural, organic farming. This is the only way to clean up the mess we’ve made.
We have created nuclear missiles and atomic bombs and have used them both in times of peace and war. However, we’ve recognized our folly and the threat they pose to the future of mankind and are steadily moving away from the brink. Genetic engineering is actually more dangerous than nuclear bombs, in that once it gains a foothold in the environment, it becomes part of our ecosystem forever. There will be no Hiroshima to warn us of the grave consequences of our actions.
The creation of a specific technology is insufficient reason to necessitate its use. Only a fool will do something just because he can. Inevitably it boils down to one thing.
How much is the future of mankind worth?
Are you willing to jeopordize this world and every living thing on it to satisfy the greed of the financial elite? Don’t forget these are the very same people that just a few decades previously claimed they were going to feed the world through the application of their new cutting-edge technology. Chemical fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides were to be our salvation. The only thing they succeeded in doing, apart from lining their pockets, was to poison and pollute every corner of the globe, and leave billions of people starving. Can any reasonable person believe that these are people you can trust? It is absolutely unjustifiable to implement a contentious new technology just because it’s profitable. This is immoral and should be considered criminal.
Hopefully, future generations will look back on us in much the same way we look back on all the prominent and educated slave owners, and say, “What the hell were they thinking?”
Are you willing to jeopordize this world and every living thing on it to satisfy the greed of the financial elite?
Parts of the Designing Disaster series: