David Mandl on Mon, 11 Jun 2001 02:36:36 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Planet destroyed; film at 11

Truly awful news in today's New York Times:



As Biotech Crops Multiply, Consumers Get Little Choice

Despite persistent concerns about genetically modified crops, they are
spreading so rapidly that it has become almost impossible for
consumers to avoid them, agriculture experts say.



So that's that.  And that's the way industry (or whatever you want to
call it) operates at the turn of the 21st century:

- When they want to cross a new line or bring about a paradigm shift,
they claim that the new thing is "just like" an existing thing that is
in fact very different but is not questioned by anyone.  For example,
Scot McPhee said this on Nettime a few weeks ago:

> And of course all agricultural crops and animals are 'GM' by virtue
> of selective breeding anyway.

>From which I infer (this isn't an actual quote from Scot): "There's
little need to even debate about GM, because we've actually had GM for
thousands of years now!"  That's the kind of thing you hear a lot
among apologists for dangerous corporate science.  _All_ agricultural
crops and animals are GM?  Quite a leap.  Do you mean that getting two
different breeds of dog to mate is the same as manipulating their DNA
in a test tube?  Give me a break, or at least ask my opinion.

- A second tactic (and the one described in the NYT article) is much
worse and much more cynical: Drug/seed companies simply go ahead and
release GM seeds and organisms into the world, where they pollute
everyone's food irreversibly, and then they say, "Oops, looks like the
genie's out of the bottle" (an actual quote from the NYT article,
though I added the "Oops").  Well, damn, guess there's really no point
in protesting against GM foods because all foods are (truly) GM now.
(That view is also more or less explicitly stated in the NYT piece.)

Well, _is_ there any point?  Apparently this stuff is already out
there and in EVERYTHING, even "organic" food, according to the Times
article.  What can anyone do?  The one hope IMO has always been the
Europeans (much more sceptical and more clued-in than the Americans),
but as the article states, there's basically nothing Europeans can do
because all the world's soybeans are produced elsewhere.  They've got
to accept them as they are now, like it or not.

Basically a decision was made for everyone in the world by a handful
of drug/seed/chemical companies:

"Notice: We've just begun the process of poisoning all the seeds in
the world.  Thank you for your cooperation"

Another quote from Scot McPhee's Nettime post (in response to me):

> [Your posts] smack of just a bitter rejection or at least an offhand
> dismissiveness of any dialogue amongst differential views about GM,
> its usefulness, its dangers, and approaches to reforming or
> superceding the ways it is put to use. I for one am tired of
> so-called 'radicals' preaching to me about issues I am capable of
> making my own mind up about.

So is the "dialogue" over now?  Where was it held?  Who voted?  And am
I also capable of making up my mind, or just you?  I'd made up my mind
that GM was insanely dangerous, or at least insanely risky, but it
looks like the decision to alter the world's food was made without my
consent (or the consent of billions of other people who are now going
to have to eat it).  Hooray for choice.

One last note: According to one activist quoted in the NYT piece:

"But the liability will kill [the seed/chemical companies]," he
said. "We're going to see lawsuits across the Farm Belt as
conventional farmers and organic farmers find their product is

Yeah, let's sue them.  That'll fix the problem.

I encourage everyone to read the NYT article.  The quotes from
industry spokespersons are unbelievably brazen.



Dave Mandl

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