Ending World Hunger? GMO’s (part I)

My sister, who works in the grocery industry for Canada’s leading grocer, came up for a visit on the weekend.  I always enjoy visits from my little Sis (Bebbis, as I’ve called her since she was wee).  She was a dorky, annoying, freckled little girl who has grown into a gorgeous, accomplished and successful woman.  And my best friend.

One of the reasons I love our visits is the way she always introduces new ideas and issues to me.  Since becoming a stay-at-home-aspiring-writer-mom-without-benefit-of-tv, I’ve become quite out of touch with the world.  I hate to admit that, but I’ve realised it is true.

Bebbis asked me what I thought of GMO’s this weekend.  From the perplexed look on my face she, rightly, assumed I had no idea what she was talking about.  Given I’m the know-it-all in the family, I assume it gave her great pleasure to be able to explain it to me.  Frankly, she’s had to explain more to me than I’ve ever let on; it’s embarrassing that my scrawny little sister knows more about so many things now cause I was always “the smart one”.

As soon as she said “genetically modified organisms”, the light bulb clicked on and my head filled with opinions and questions.  This always makes for a lively discussion and it became exactly that.

Genetically Modified Organisms (or Food, sometimes GMF) are everywhere.  In fact, Canada, my home and native land, is the third largest producer of GMO crops in the world (Source:  Environment Canada)

GMO means: any organism whose structure/genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. (source Wikipedia; they’re good for definitions!)  That is to say the addition, change or deletion of certain genetic codes in the organism.  An organism is any living thing that has genetic material…so, ALL of them!  Bacteria, yeast, plants, fish, mammals…ALL of them have the potential to be genetically modified.

A bright yellow example:  When I was a kid…bananas had seeds!  They no longer do.

This tinkering with the genetic code of our food source is intended to do many things, but most importantly to us non-corporations, is that it will mean we can feed the world.  It means we can END WORLD HUNGER!  For real.

But at what cost?  And that is why I’ve decided to do a series. Someone famous (whoever it was) said:  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Well, this sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  End world hunger?  Just like that?

Obviously there are larger implications at play here, so what are they?  From my limited perspective, I see four primary areas of impact on our daily lives and well-being.

I’m not normally given to the idea of a series of posts, but this one was of such interest to me because of its far-reaching consequences and the abundance of dietary concerns in our house. I want to flesh it all out with my community.  I hope you’ll join me for some lively discussion and offer me your perspective.  Each of the next four days, I’ll tackle a different “grand” implication.  If you think there is another broad category I’ve overlooked…tell me!

Economy

Health & Nutrition

Environment

Science & Technology

Now, if you’re expecting me to jump on one bandwagon or another, you’ll be disappointed.  On this particular issue, I’ve not made up my mind how I feel.  I see both sides and will share how I see them with you.  The health-conscious, all-natural, hippie mother with her own digestion issues in me says “no, this is bad!” and the scientist,  business manager in me says “yes, this is awesome!”.

So, if nothing else, watching my inner debate unfold as I struggle to understand and decide could be good for a few laughs.  I hope you’ll join me.

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