- Kuwait Times Extra
With seven billion mouths to feed, the world surely needs a stable supply of staple food. Genetically modified seeds that produce more yield, are hardy and can withstand pests and weeds have been touted as the ultimate solution to eradicate hunger and farm waste. Europe aside, these crops have been extensively cultivated in large swathes of farmland in the US, South America, Asia and Africa. Billions of cattle too are raised on GM feed.
But the rat is out of the bag. A study in France has concluded that genetically modified corn fed to lab mice resulted in cancerous tumors. Locavores and organic advocates are feeling vindicated after years of campaigning against such “Frankenfood” produced by GMO giants like the US’ Monsanto, whose super seeds and weedkillers are leaders in the field, literally. Of course the French study has its detractors – all scientific tests do – but it should give us pause on what happens when man tinkers with nature. History is littered with examples of human folly when it comes to strong-arming nature into submission, with disastrous consequences. Introduced species hailed as saviors to control “pests” have turned into ecological nightmares in many parts of the world, decimating native flora and fauna and turning into pests themselves. Not to mention global warming brought about by rapid industrialization and rampant deforestation.
To an average person living in an urban environment, in a country like Kuwait for instance, the extinction of the three- (or two- for that matter) toed sloth is hardly cause for concern. As are water hyacinths choking riverways or melting Antarctic glaciers. But anything that affects the food on the table immediately hits home. This has become evident by the near-daily busts of expired and spoilt food and the recent seizure of pork-tainted sausages. Being a rich country, people here have the option to consume organic or non- GMO foods, but these products are often expensive and lacking in variety and availability. And cheap food is plentiful, leading to massive wastage. Let’s hope this new study gives us some food for thought, before we turn into mutants.
By Shakir Reshamwala
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