Prince Charles gets nervous, neo-Luddite meme gathering steam

Robert S. Thau rst at ai.mit.edu
Tue Apr 29 16:57:12 PDT 2003


Justin Mason writes:
 > Take GMOs, for example.  Who's pushing GMOs?  Monsanto et al.  What are
 > they pushing?  "terminator" genes that let them make more cash by blocking
 > replanting and "protecting their IP"; immunity to their own pesticides, so
 > they get to sell buckets of pesticide along with their seeds; etc.

Call me crazy, but I actually think that some of these things are
getting a bad rap.  Pesticide-resistant plants serve a real need (so
long as the pesticide gets washed off!).  And even "terminator" genes
can be justified as a way of preventing interbreeding of GMO plants
with wild relatives, which genuinely does risk producing
"superweeds".  

On the other hand, the motives for developing "terminator" genes were
unquestionably financial (I don't think I've ever heard even defenders
of Monsanto make the weed-restraint case), and the larger point is
correct -- the biotech firms pushing GMOs are astoundingly
short-sighted and greedy.  Witness, for example, the attempt by an
outfit called RiceTec, which didn't stop with overbroad patents on
Basmati rice, which would have included strains which were the product
of centuries of breeding by Indian farmers -- but they don't get
patents.  See, for instance:

  http://www.blonnet.com/businessline/2001/08/27/stories/042703ap.htm

rst


  




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