Genetically Modified Islands

I’m writing this from the inside of a VW Bus, aka my room, at the lovely “Lova Lava Land Eco-Resort” on the big island in Hawaii. I feel like I could be a hippy in the 70’s except for the fact that I’m getting wifi in here, and I have a cell phone, laptop, and little solar-powered LED lamp to keep me productive in the dark.

Another telltale sign that I’m not in the 70’s is that I’m reading up on GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops in the Hawaiian islands. Apparently, islands don’t get much more remote than Hawaii, making this the perfect place to test delicate things like GMO crops. I checked out, which reported the following: “As of November 2002, there were 166 open-air field tests of genetically engineered crops being conducted over 8000 acres of land in the Hawaiian islands, more test sites and more acreage of experimental field trials than any other place in the world.”

I used to be a big believer in the benefits of GMO crops, until I heard about this lawsuit, in which Monsanto sues a Canadian farmer who’s crop was somehow unintentionally tainted by Monstanto genes. That suit struck me as so twisted that I took a closer look and I’ve since switched to a more cautious position on the issue– one of “let’s know what we’re doing before we risk accidentally pollinate our most important crops with genes that couldn’t ordinarily exist in those crops.” I’m leaning heavily in the “better safe than sorry” camp, though I’ll take a second look at anything. In the meantime, I’m disappointed that Hawaii has become a favorite testing ground for these crops, and I hope that we’re not permanently undoing a few hundred million years of genetic evolution by swapping in a few new genes. Time, and testing, will tell… and do tell, what do you think? Answer the poll below.

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25 thoughts on “Genetically Modified Islands

  1. Regarding the potential health hazards of genetically engineered seeds, ‘absence of proof is not proof of absence’. I believe it is only a matter of time before science catches up with GMO’s and discovers serious, unforeseen health-safety consequences.

    GMO activists will tell you that we have been doing ‘genetic engineering’ for centuries. This is an attempt to hide the real issue: recombinant DNA technologies (what most people are referring to when they use the term ‘GMO’) were first discovered in 1973 and not implemented commercially until 1996. This technology (which allows not only trans-species transgenics, but also trans-kingdom transgencis) is clearly dangerous, and its discovery triggered the 1975 Asilomar Conference in Pacific Grove, California.

    From a July 1, 2007 article in the New York Times (’A Challenge to Gene Theory, a Tougher Look at Biotech’ – Denise Caruso): “Evidence of a networked genome shatters the scientific basis for virtually every official risk assessment of today’s commercial biotech products, from genetically engineered crops to pharmaceuticals.”

    So it goes with science: safe today, health hazard tomorrow.

    Let’s hope it’s not too late when science catches up – once they are let loose on the environment you cannot call genes back.

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