Fears of genetically modified foods have reached a fevered pitch with people protesting their use, breaking into facilities, and burning the plants while authorities stand by in many cases, watching. Experimental genetically altered crops have been a source of contention in several fields with many terrified of the prospect of a genetic crop going rogue and causing ecological and economic disasters resulting in widespread famine. And if reports pouring in from all over the world are accurate, this trend is here to stay.
Though the campaign has been ongoing for some time, the most recent case of breaking into a GMO experimental crop to burn its contents happened just last Sunday morning in France as sixty people swarmed the compound and set an experimental vineyard aflame. The genetically modified crops were torched, and the entire area was blanketed in flames. Soon the crowd dispersed and disappeared. This wasn’t the first time the field had been attacked either.
And this comes less than a month after a similar incursion on a Monsanto crop in Spain. Understandably making the claim they have a right to farm the seeds they wish without interference from outside sources, they cited their reasons as a desire to help protect biodiversity without the natural seeds being choked out and replaced by patented and genetically modified seeds.
These battles over seeds both in the courtroom and outside are becoming a hot debate since the late 1990s when GMO foods were used as tinder in India. The organizations are by no means considering the battle over, but neither are GMO corporations such as Monsanto. After the demonstration, the protestors approached police and turned themselves in to be arrested. The official estimate on the cost of the destroyed crops are yet to be released.
In the genetically modified crops race there are two schools of thought. The first suggests that such foods could eventually wipe out world hunger. Of course despite the fact that this looks good on paper, the crops have yet to significantly impact world hunger in any way – partially due to the policies of Monsanto. And even when Monsanto does offer genetically modified crops to people of other nations, such as after the Haitian Earthquake when almost 500 tons were offered up, farmers refuse to accept the gifts as they require industrialized care that ultimately would be more costly ecologically and financially than is reasonable.
On the other hand, despite their attempts to improve their public image, Monsanto has often found itself in legal battles with farmers and used what some would describe as brutal policies to enforce the use of their crops. One of the major problems is that of cross pollination with other crops. If a farm next to a Monsanto crop has his field pollinated, the neighboring farmer – even if no GMO seeds were purchased has a legal obligation in many cases to pay Monsanto or face the threat of having his crops burned. This is yet another conundrum we will face in our future brought about by technological developments. We will have to be the judge if it is worth it or not in the long run.