GMOs in Trouble - Could It Be a Good Thing?
Welcome back to NatuREport!
This week in the news, the company everyone loves to hate—Monsanto—is at it again. Why hate Monsanto? Well, for one thing, their genetically modified corn has been shown to cause organ failure in rats - yet they pretty much dominate the market. (If you've got some time, check out this eye-opening Vanity Fair piece.)
So what's wrong this time around?
Well, their "Bt" hybrid corn—infused with a special gene that naturally produces a toxin that poisons corn rootworms - seems to be losing its effectiveness. Scientists knew this would happen eventually, but it's happening way faster than they had predicted.
This might not seem like a big deal, but this particular hybrid accounts for 65 percent of all U.S. corn. And since we're such heavy corn consumers, around 70% of the carbon in us is from corn. "We're like corn chips walking," says Todd Dawson, a plant biologist at the University of California-Berkeley.
Unfortunately, due to some shoddy practices by a few farmers, the corn rootworms have found a way to adapt. They have now been found happily munching away on corn roots in four Midwestern states.
Monsanto, in typical fashion, insists that there is no conclusive evidence that they've become immune to the toxin. And if they are immune? "[It] could become the most economically damaging example of insect resistance to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.," opines Bruce Tabashnik, an entomologist at the University of Arizona. "It's a pest of great economic significance — a billion-dollar pest."
While this could be disastrous for corn farmers in the now, I have to be honest—some of me thinks this may not be such a bad thing in the long run. Our dependence on corn is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
The pessimistic part of me doesn't expect any real change to come from this—we are dealing with Monsanto, after all. But the optimistic part of me holds out a tiny bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, this could be a wakeup call. We can't go on depending on corn and GMOs like we have been. Maybe now, people will start to realize that.
What do you think? Wakeup call? Catalyst for change? Or just more of the same?