Wednesday, October 21, 2009

robot corn

Greenpeace protests genetically modified corn in Mexico

"Mexico saw the first public protests this weekend over the government's decision to allow cultivation of the first genetically modified corn, which environmentalists and others say could ruin the nation's native crop."

i'll admit, i am at once thrilled, jealous, perplexed, amused, and saddened by this article.

i am thrilled that someone, somewhere cares to this extent, even if it's not here in the u.s. and i'm jealous for the same reason. i desperately wish we had this level of education, passion, and involvement regarding these issues here in our country.

i'm perplexed, amused, and saddened as well. the u.s. has been using genetically engineered corn for nearly 20 years. no where does this article mention this, however. and we haven't heard this kind of outcry yet here.

this is especially bad for mexico, where the majority of the diet is based on unrefined corn (we beat them in the consumption of refined corn products, however, but that's an entirely different debate), and where there are, essentially, heirloom varieties of corn that have been around for centuries, if not longer. replacing these varieties with genetically engineered ones impact not only the environment and the health of mexico's people, but also erases an important part of their culture.

read more:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

eat food. not too much. mostly plants.

thursday before last, i traveled to madison to see michael pollan speak. he was giving a lecture as part of uw-madison's go big read program, for which they are doing in defense of food this year.

i've read that book, and others of his, and of course the topic is a passionate one for me, so i was really excited to see him speak. i thought his lecture was very good, and his response during the q&a very thoughtful.

there were others there, though, who are not as enamored with pollan as i am. there was some controversy, and even some protesters there (very peaceful though). the protesters were farmers, and were speaking to people about how their animals/crops are raised, and even invited people to come see their farms.

the point i think they miss is not that pollan believes all farmers are irresponsible, but that the great number of them supplying the main food supply are. and he is not against these farmers - he is for them. he wants them to sell directly to the consumers, thus earning 100% of their profits (as opposed to the 10% they get now).

and i think the invitation to visit the farms is hollow proof - corn raised with fertilizer and pesticides, and cows raised with antibiotics, hormones, and indigestible corn don't look sickly, or evil. they look like corn, and cows. but that doesn't mean they're good for us, or the earth.

overall, i was very pleased i had the opportunity to hear him speak, and i hope the 7000 other people there were as well. i strongly recommend picking up one of his books and learning more.