Sunday, February 28, 2010

GMOs: You Pay Me to Shit in Your Garden

Supposing I were to re-engineer my domestic sewage system so that it dumps sewage from my house into my neighbour's garden, my neighbour would be quite upset, right? But supposing I were to take it a little further and sue my neighbour in court for refusing to pay me for manuring his garden, that would really add insult to injury, wouldn't it? It sounds ridiculous for me to be claiming that I am the injured party, when I have, without permission or discussion, used my neighbour's land as if it belonged to me.

Well, that's how GMOs (genetically modified organisms) work. If I grow GMOs on my land and they contaminate my neighbour's land, my neighbour will have to pay royalties to the seed manufacturer, even though my neighbour may grow non-GMOs or organic crops. My neighbour's crops have been contaminated, not in some way blessed with the bountiful gift of genetically modified crops. I should be compensating my neighbour because the crops now grown on my neighbour's land will no longer be non-GMO and will no longer be organic.

My choice to grow GMOs in the first place is questionable enough, because it is inevitable that they will eventually contaminate my neighbour's crops. But I have effectively also taken the decision that my neighbour should no longer have the right to grow non-GMOs or organic crops. Where did I get this right and why does my neighbour not have the same level of autonomy over their land that I have over mine?

Farmers in Brazil and Argentina are facing this very absurdity, that the serial rapist is taking their victims to court for compensation for the use of their genetic input. Those contaminating the land, the land belonging to those who wish to have nothing to do with GMOs, are set to be paid for their contamination. Australia is busily trying to patch up their laws so that unwitting non-GMO farmers can be protected. But the multinationals that produce GMOs are rich and they are not going to give up easily.

Absurd though this is, it is exactly what awaits any country that is tricked into allowing GMOs to be grown on their land. Individual farmers will not have the right to choose whether to fall for GMOs or not; if their neighbours accept the thirty pieces of silver, their land will also quickly become contaminated and they will also have to pay royalties, they will also be stuck with weeds that are resistant to certain pesticides, their soil will become degraded and they will be forced to buy expensive fertilizers. Their yields and crop quality will also suffer.

Consumers, also, will have to pay for the greed of the few farmers who are willing buy into the plot. Eventually, consumers will not have the choice of GMO or non-GMO crops, they will all become contaminated. It is simply not possible for both GMO and non-GMO crops to be grown in the same areas. While non-GMOs may attract a premium for a while, the price will quickly rise before they become unavailable.

The only solution is to hold out against GMOs, regardless of what carrots the GMO manufacturers hold up, whatever threats they make or whatever lies they propagate about 'food security' and the rest. They are interested in deciding what people grow and eat and that's the way things are in countries like Brazil and Argentina. The costs to the farmers are higher and growing, therefore the costs to consumers are also higher and growing. The only ones that benefit from GMOs are the multinationals.

If anyone has seen the wonderful Italian film, The Bicycle Thieves (or the more recent Bejing Bicycle), they may notice a similar irony, where the person who has been wronged is made to pay for their victimization. How has this cruel and dangerous absurdity been allowed to arise in the first place? Why do faceless multinationals have so much power and influence that they can pay for a policy of appeasement, while they treat the defenceless as guinea pigs in their deadly experiments? And will we simply say 'never again' after conventional farming has been destroyed? There may be time to prevent this disaster in some countries, but it has to be now. The consequences cannot be reversed.



Adam said...

Simon, thanks for this, u have opened my eyes. Down with GMOs

Simon said...

Thanks Adam, the whole idea of having to pay the multinational that contaminates your land is so absurd that I think people just don't take it in! S

Anonymous said...

Good article...
One of the biggest fears I have in life is GMO's and those companies who 'own' those patents. I pray that the developing countries do not let such corporations through their doors....
Would recommend watching the movie named food Inc.

Ken Thumbi

Simon said...

Hi Ken
Thanks for your message. It's a big fear because corporations tend to have been able to get away with things that would be criminal for mere people. But some developed countries are now standing up to multinationals like Monsanto and a lot of the opposition is coming from farmers who are or have been their customers, or you could say 'victims'. I'd love to see that film, I'll look out for it, but it's mostly blockbusters and chikflix here. S