Monday, January 22, 2007

What's in this stuff?

In the writing class I am currently taking, the assignments are to read various essays each week and then to write an analysis of the arguments presented. I am NOT to get involved in whether I agree or disagree with the arguments themselves. Instead, I merely assess the tactics that were used to present them, then state whether or not they were effective and why.

That’s all well and good. I genuinely do see how assessing arguments this way helps hone my critical thinking and will in all likelihood make me more mindful of the sorts of devises I use in my own writing. But what about the ISSUES that are raised about these topics? Where do I go to sort out my thoughts, opinions and feelings about them?

You guessed it…in the paraphrased words of the Big Bad Wolf to Little Red Riding Hood, “why, all the better to blog you with, my dear!”

The one I am currently working on is Biotech Agriculture and the Ethics of Food Production. There are a collection of short essays taking various sides on the question of whether or not genetically engineered food is safe for human consumption, along with the ethical debate over whether or not such foods should be required to be labeled at such so that consumers can make informed choices about what they are eating.

So I raise the question….if you are drinking Soy milk that was made from “Roundup-Ready” soybeans, would you care? Basically “Roundup Ready” means the soybean seeds were tinkered with so that farmers could spray the herbicide roundup on the field to kill all the nasty weeds without hurting the soybeans. That makes it much easier for them to manage problems of all the invasive plants that creep into fields without hurting the cash crop.

Is this important to you?

Now, just to be perfectly clear...I have NO idea whether or not the makers of SILK soymilk or any other brand use transgenic soybeans or not. The brand I buy says "Organic" so my guess would be those do not. My concern is - once the soybeans are harvested, how does one know if they are "natural" or "transgenic"? I'm still learning about the regulations involved. Should soybean growers (or other food producers) have to disclose EVERYTHING that was ever sprayed on their crops? Should they have to disclose certain classes of things only? What about crops that are NOT directly sprayed, but are planted right next door to ones that are? Do I need to worry about drift issues and groundwater?

When I buy produce in a grocery store I don't always pay attention to where my fruit and veggies come from. However, I have noted that there are increasing numbers of crops being imported here from other countries, some of which have far less regulation that we do about what sorts of chemicals can or cannot be used.

In light of the recent California freeze, chances are a lot of the citrus and strawberries we see in shops later on will be coming from South America or Australia rather than here. Should we expect there to be a label telling us if there has been any genetic development in the seed of a plant? (Currently there is none).

How important is this to you?

1 comment:

Spoke said...

In this micro-town in which we reside, choice is a little more difficult. Pj is VERY concious of this...our family is.
I blogged about something along this line too...

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