The UK government today approved the growing of our first genetically modified crops. Or ‘Frankenstein Foods’ as Daily Mail readers would know it. (Interesting image that conjures up – giant sticks of rhubarb, or whatever, clumping round the countryside, terrorising torch-waving peasants and befriending sweet little crippled girls. Gives a whole new meaning to the road sign ‘Heavy Plant Crossing.’ And while we’re on the subject, just why did Frankenstein give his monster great big metal boots? Did he have a career in deep-sea diving in mind for his creation?)
But I digress from my digression. We finally have the go-ahead for GM foods, albeit as foodstuff for livestock. This has upset lots of people. On the one side, those who say that all the research says it’s safe, and on the other, the ‘end of civilisation as we know it’ folk. As ever, I’m perfectly happy to admit that I don’t know which, if any, is right. I don’t know enough of the science to have a view.
But I’m with Margaret Beckett on this one. If the antis are right, that the public don’t want it, that they won’t buy it, so the food manufacturers won’t use it, then what is the point of banning it? Market forces etc mean it just won’t happen.
Then the conspiracy theorists creep in. “They will do it to corrupt ‘natural’ crops to take us over to the dark side.” Yeah, right. Or that the bio-techs are aiming to copyright food. Okay, so that I can believe.
The point is, we all have freewill (or is that being eroded by fluoride in the water?) and can just say no. I get a thrill of righteousness when I buy “No GM” foods at Iceland like I’m saving the planet. The reality is that I’m getting cheap food, I don’t really care where it came from, or whether a whale was harpooned in the process. I have it on the packaging that it is ethical/moral/planet-saving.
Should I believe a corporate, stock-listed company more than my government? Well probably yes, if the Daily Mail is to be believed (and it is, by millions.)
But a tiny question does nag away. I once had a phone call from someone who wanted to know why ‘we’ wanted to add fluoride to water to make children’s teeth less rotten. It was an NHS agenda to poison people.
I asked, in reasonable terms, why a cash-strapped health service would strive for a measure that would make people ill, and therefore cause even greater strain on a pushed service.
His answer? “Because you’re evil.” The sum of the logic. Me with two kids (and hopefully grandkids to follow, and yea, their children beyond) would knowingly cause them or the future harm? Don’t think so, but it does make you question the sanity of media-driven life, eh?