Farm Press Blog

Defense of biotechnology is personal

  • I get emotional when I talk about GMO technology. It’s a passion I find hard to contain. It’s personal.

Several weeks ago I found myself in a very uncomfortable position — behind the microphone rather than in front of it taking notes and snapping photos for articles in Western Farm Press.

Good friend and Northern California UCCE Farm Advisor Doug Munier is a persuasive fellow and convinced me to speak at the California Weed Science Society meeting in Sacramento. He asked that I give an overview of Roundup Ready technology since I have written thousands of words on the subject. It was enjoyable tracing the history of the technology. As an oral presentation, it was not easy, especially as the leadoff speaker in a session replete with highly respected weed scientists from California and elsewhere. However, I could not pass up the opportunity — once again — to talk about biotechnology and the controversy that has swirled about it.

My passion on the subject often gets me in trouble and bewilders my wife. Georgann proofs most of my commentaries and often says that someone is going to paint a large white X on the roof of our home so they won’t miss.

I admit to taking a junkyard dog approach to those I call whackos. I also acknowledge that there are intelligent, educated scientists who have raised issues about GMO technology. However, most of the controversy in the media has been generated by radicals who simply do not want to accept sound science. They are self-serving socialists more interested in halting technology than even considering its benefits. Sadly, they have had far too much influence on the general public and that may be the most troubling element of the controversy. I am shocked when people spout some of the garbage they read in newspapers.


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When I started writing about biotechnology, I researched it thoroughly. I discovered that scientists were trying to use it to increase the amount of insulin in the whites of chicken eggs to benefit insulin-dependent diabetics. All of a sudden biotechnology became personal. My granddaughter has been a Type 1 diabetic since she was seven years old. She is now 24 and has struggled with controlling her diabetes for a long time.

When I read about the insulin research, I decided to vigorously defend biotechnology — supporting unbiased men and women who are using it for the betterment of mankind.

Radicals who attack biotechnology are no different than those who opposed smallpox and polio vaccines. They do not deserve respect or even acknowledgement.

I will always support the right of dedicated scientists to pursue biotechnology or other scientific endeavors to meet the challenges mankind faces; from health issues to figuring out how to feed the 9 billion people who will be on this earth in 2050.

I trust those who have already made this a better place to live and have faith that others will follow with the same motivation.

I get emotional when I talk about the issue. I did when I spoke in Sacramento, despite my best efforts not to choke up. It was not very scholarly for such an educational gathering as a professional society. It’s a passion I find hard to contain. It’s personal. 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Dusty Do from MN (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2013

I agree with you 100%. Biotechnology is no different than 2 different races of people interbreeding, their offspring interbreeding again, and again, etc. It is just the mixing of genes, and I am also 100% in favor of all these new biotechnologies. If it were not for this technology, just think of how many people would have died by now, because we could not produce enough food for the world. If it is sooooo bad, why do so many countries seek our technology? Growing up on the farm, and farming for over 40 years, I saw and experienced this great change in modern agriculture. From the bins being just partly filled, they are now overflowing with grain to ship around the world. If other countries and individuals do not like modern ag, they better start growing their own food, and see how long they survive, before they just vanish from starvation.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2013

Great article. I especailly agree with the assessment of the author about the radicals who make up the core of the anti-GMO crowd: "They do not deserve respect or even acknowledgment".

Things changed when they lost the science debate against GMO's some time ago and cynically moved to a tactic of targeting the casually informed portion of the population with an aggressive campaign of fear and deliberate misinformation in trying to achieve their goal of dismantling modern crop production for no reason other than satisfying their narcissistic feelings of food superiority. They aren't superior....they are phobia filled misfits.

Dusty Do from MN (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2013

Very well said. Biotechnology is here to stay. If people do not like it, too bad. GMO's have been getting a bad rap, for a very, very long time, just like ethanol.

Harlan Hansen (not verified)
on Apr 4, 2013

I enjoyed this article and appreciate the passion for the better life.

on Jun 24, 2013

I am a diabetic and my health has improved after begging to select non-genetically altered foods. I find the Institute for Responsible Technology to be a factual source of information on GMOs and their effect on people and the environment. I respect the fact that they do not resort to name calling to get their point across:

Here is an extremely informative video explaining the dangers of GMOs by Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director of Institute for Responsible Technology - "Everything You HAVE TO KNOW About Dangerous Genetically Modified Organisms.

Why This Talk Transforms

What is not shown is Jeffrey asking the audience at the beginning, "Please rate yourself from 1-100 how vigilant you are at avoiding genetically modified (GM) brands." Using a show of hands by category, most audiences fall in the least vigilant range (1-20). But by the end of Jeffrey's fast-paced multimedia presentation—EVERYTHING changes.

After the audience hears about:

The thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, accompanied by unambiguous photos of severely damaged organs in animals fed GM food (e.g. testicles actually changed color),
How eating a GM corn chip might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories (it's true), and
The heavy handed ways the industry covers up GM food dangers,
Jeffrey asks the final question, "Now rate yourself how vigilant you will be NEXT week at avoiding GMOs." The audience is transformed—ready to change lifelong eating habits on-the-spot.

This happens every time. At one medical conference, for example, all 250 physicians shifted to the highest category of vigilance (80-100) after just 26 minutes! The presentation is that powerful.

We know this video changes peoples' diets. And we know that with a few million people avoiding GM brands, the food companies would scramble to replace all GM ingredients (follow the tipping point strategic plan in the video). So please forward this email to your friends, post the video on your Facebook page or website, blog about it, or buy a stack of DVDs (as low as $3 each), pass them out, and run it over to your local access TV station.

The time for action is now.
Don't sit back, relax, and enjoy. Sit up, take notice, and reclaim a healthier non-GMO food supply.

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