Thinking about the most recent in the GMO debate . . . .
If good science is good for the whole, then agricultural science is a vast and complex study – of soil, of nutrition, of people and society, of plants, of climate, or habitat. Agriculture itself has empirical demands, hence farmers and gardeners over the millennia of human existence have slowly experimented in endless combinations to develop many seeds and varieties that can sustain us in all different environments and environmental changes.
Recently, in the last few seconds of our human history, we have discovered how to quickly alter the internal structure of plants. 20 years ago the plan was mind over matter, a quick fix to those terrible blights that wipe out crops. A crazy plan – a plan without long patient testing, a plan without many different farmers, an irreversible plan – because the wizards who can change the gene one way, cannot get it all back to change it another way once it enters the soil, water and air. The plan failed spectacularly, or maybe this was always the real plan: that bio-engineered crops are dependent on high risk chemical fertilization and “pest” control. Seeds, fertilizer and “pest” control as a big rounded up expensive package of patents, belonging to entities bigger than our smaller nation economies.
Rather: Study with small farmers, not against them. Study together, study seed freedom, study what works, study variety, study good sense, study sharing, study what the earth herself is teaching. Teaching free of charge, free of patents, free of any greedy cleverness.
Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.
For a time in the world some force themselves ahead
And some are left behind,
For a time in the world some make a great noise
And some are held silent,
For a time in the world some are puffed fat
And some are kept hungry,
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out:
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
- Witter Bynner translation of the Tao Te Ching, ancient text dated 4th or 3rd Century BCE