When I woke up this morning

Howdy How y’all, its your friendly neighborhood genetically modified organism, here, Frank N. Foode™. I greet each sunrise with my chloroplast grana revving up their photosystems with the incoming light. Before long I am splitting water and ready to greet the world. Then I check my twitter feed (as all plants should). This morning I was in for a bit of a shock – and I don’t mean from the cold morning air.

Andrew Kimbrell, the dude who runs the Center For Food Safety, just typed up some opinions about genetically engineered crops like me. In The GMO Reality Check, and it was published in Organic Connections Magazine. I must say that I was quite shocked at some of the things he said, especially about genetics:

Faulty Science

“There’s a very good reason we haven’t seen these promises come about,” Kimbrell explained. “The theory behind genetic engineering, which is the understanding of what a gene is and what a gene is not, has changed dramatically over the last decade. The idea that DNA—and particularly the part of DNA that we call a gene, which is a little above 1.5 percent of DNA—somehow controls traits is now not scientifically valid. Today most major scientists realize that DNA is not an actor, but is acted upon. There are millions of what are called epigenetic markers—various proteins and chemicals—that control how DNA is expressed in the cell. This idea that the DNA contains a trait such as drought resistance, size or nutrition is naive—and it was wrong.

Whoa, Nellie! That’s an incredible expression of incredulity about the genetic origin of traits. Now, I know everyone will just love to jump on this one, but the interview touches on some other things that I would like to highlight to give you a flavor of what this lawyer thinks about lil’ ole me:

“I don’t think GMOs should be regulated at all; I think they should be eliminated,”

Now I don’t think Kimbrells should be eliminated, but maybe they ought to be regulated. 🙂 I think he tells us quite clearly what he (and his organization) are trying to do. But why?

“What exactly have these crops done for us?” Andrew Kimbrell, founder and executive director of the Center for Food Safety, posed to Organic Connections. “What has this technology really given anybody? There’s not a single human being on Earth who gets up in the morning wanting to buy genetically engineered food.”

Not being a human being, I thought I would ask some of my human twitter feed followers what they thought about this. Do any of them wake up in the morning and wish that they could buy a genetically engineered food?

Here are some of the answers I got so far:

@_Lucibee: @franknfoode I’d love to buy #GMO food or even grow it myself – but the EU won’t let me!

Uh oh, you mean they are denying your right to choose?? :-O

@w1ld3rn3ss: @franknfoode when can we get GMO blight-resistant potatoes?? And will they taste good with garlic mayo?

I bet they will. Wait, who puts mayo on a potato?

@szintri: @franknfoode I actually wake up lots of mornings wishing I could have a GFP banana for breakfast!

And that might have the added benefit of helping you find it in the dark – a win for energy efficiency! Can we get the DOE on it? Go tap on some of those Berkeley biofuel shoulders, James!

So you see, in a very short span of time, already three human beings on this planet say that they do wake up in the morning and want to buy a GMO. I know Andy Kimbrell loves big percentages, so that’s 200% more than is required to prove him wrong. But let’s pile it on, shall we?

"Genes don't exist, man!"

And here’s why. Regular readers of Biofortified know that there aren’t many traits that directly benefit consumers right now. Maybe no one really wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Gee, I wish I could buy tofu made from Roundup Ready 2 soybeans,” it doesn’t benefit (or harm) you so why bother? Maybe you’d like to have sweet corn that is not worm-bitten (thankfully as a Bt corn I am relatively worm-free), but again, not too much to get in a stink about. But there are traits coming down the pipeline of these various companies and government agencies that people will want the benefits from. Folks were just talking about soybeans with a better oil profile here, and not to mention various biofortification projects as well. (And what about the surprising excitement over the non-browning apple?) Michael Pollan also told me, Anastasia, and Karl over dinner that these consumer-oriented traits will change public opinion. But Kimbrell is on a mission, you see, to eliminate everything genetically engineered before that has a chance to happen. Call it a husk, I mean hunch, but I think he might be afraid that when these traits become available and more common, that many more people might wake up in the morning and say, “I want to buy a GMO today.”

So how about it, do you wish that there was a particular GMO that you could buy? Do you actually wake up in the morning and think that you would like to buy something that has been genetically engineered? The trait doesn’t have to exist yet, or be commercialized for that matter. Tell us all about it!

(As for the genetics stuff, don’t worry we’ll have a post to discuss that stuff coming on the blog soon!)

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Frank N. Foode™ is your friendly neighborhood genetically modified organism. Email him at franknfoode(AT)biofortified[DOT]org.
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