Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Organic vs GM: Comparing apples to oranges

Time and again I have encountered arguments or comparisons between organically grown crops/plants and GM crops. The recent one was in a local newspaper sometime during the Chinese New Year. The article was about a homemaker who rears chicken in her backyard to serve a sumptuous meal during the New Year celebration. She prefers chicken that are not hormone-fed. Great idea, I thought.

But as I read further, I realized the ignorance when she said the chicken cannot be termed “organic” as she feeds them with imported corn that is GM.

One has to understand that when they compare organically produced crops and GM crops, they are actually comparing apples to oranges. Organic agriculture is a matter of agronomic practice. The crops in anyway have been modified either through traditional methods such as breeding, selection or even modern biotechnology methods such as marker assisted selection. It could even be GM, for that matter.

How about this situation: if a farmer grows GM corn organically, and this corn is fed to the chicken – does that make the chicken “organic chicken”? (Though, as a matter of fact, I have not heard about inorganic chicken. All edible stuff is organic anyway…)

I have written before on how GM crops make the best candidate for organic agriculture practices.

I hope time will come when the organic lovers realize that this agriculture practice actually does more harm to the environment than introducing GM crops. Farmers would require more land area to produce the same amount of yield organically as loss of yield to pest and disease would be higher. On the other hand, GM crops have managed to reduce the use of chemicals and the yield has been much higher, thus reducing the pressure to open up new forest land for cultivation.

And when the phytase corn is introduced which will reduce the amount of methane produced by livestock, will ardent organic lovers embrace the technology?

I hope those who are against GM in the pretext of environment safety will do good to the environment by really understanding the science behind GM technology.

This is what Dr. Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace in 1970s and left the organization in 1986 due to ideology differences has to say:

“Farmers planting Bt cotton have experienced dramatic improvements in yields and in reduction of chemical application. Bt cotton is really promising, and farmers want to use it. They know how important this is, and yet you have these intellectuals and academics claiming that they're speaking on behalf of the small farmer and the poor. It's just a complete hoax”.


Mahaletchumy Arujanan

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You clearly know very little about the wide range of issues surrounding GM foods and what it means for something to be grown organically by today's definition of the term. Which is why you have the opinion that you have. Educate yourself. For your own sake. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/