Farmers are great, but this isn't their call

Twice now, I’ve seen the question of growing genetically modified crops framed as a farmers’ rights issue, after voters in two Oregon counties voted overwhelmingly to ban the planting of GMO crops. One was on the Corn Commentary site, and the other was foodnavigator-usa: “We will continue to fight to protect the rights of all farmers to choose for themselves how they farm,” said farm bureau president Barry Bushue.

I get that perspective, especially when such bans happen so piecemeal. If there are economic advantages to growing GMOs, then whatever else occurs as a result of the ban, farmers may also be disadvantaged competitively compared with farmers who are still allowed to grow the stuff.

But I’m flummoxed by the stance, nevertheless. Who says farmers are in charge of the natural world? After World War II, farmers and others decided that DDT was the best way to control insects, and we know what followed from that.

GMOs don’t have to turn out to be as bad as DDT for this analogy to work. The lesson from DDT was that we all live in the natural world, and so we all have a voice in what any subset of us wants to put into it.

It’s good to acknowledge: Farmers are really important; they put the food on our tables. But some decisions are just above any one group’s pay grade.

Meanwhile, has anyone else noticed that the venal-loonies at "Center for Consumer Freedom" have embarked on rebranding GMOs? To them, they’re now GIFs, as in, “genetically improved foods.” They get millions for that kind of genius, but their task is large. I googled GIF and the first 30 (who digs much further in a Google search?) results were all for “graphics interchange format,” which has been bringing tacky images to the internet since … the internet.


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