Until now, the French have always had something for which they were universally respected: their food.
It was a good run while it lasted. In a recent article from Sybille de La Hamaide of Reuters , it has come to light that the entirety of France has rejected genetically modified food despite the fact that their OWN food and health agency AFSSA said they “did not see any health risks”with MON810, an insect resistant form of corn. Instead, both the French people and French government have roundly rejected MON810’s use because of a possible risk, NOT to people or animals, but to the environment. Now, looking past the fact that this myth has been debunked, let’s inspect the frog logic, (or “frogic”as I like to call it).
Assertion 1) Insect resistant genetically modified food requires less pesticide to protect it. It is often hardier, and requires less irrigation, and fertilizer.
Assertion 2) Growing MON810 corn will require fewer deadly chemicals, less fresh water, and production of less fertilizer (a huge contributor to greenhouse gasses).
Logic Conclusion: MON810 is bad for the environment. C’est bon.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not an environmentalist. I am in no way a proponent of the environmental movement, and I personally believe global warming to be a myth (perpetrated perhaps by the French themselves). Though I admit that the last few winters have been surprisingly mild, and my ocean-front beach house seems slightly closer to the water-line than I remember.
But if I was an environmentalist, this type of thinking would drive me crazy. Not only does GM food improve crop yields and economic output of food growers, it reduces our consumption of natural resources, and lowers the levels of agricultural pollution (the worst polluter in most countries).
You might be saying, “Whoa! Slow down there fella! Let’s pump the breaks on this thought-train! (Especially if you often use 1930’s dialect and mixed metaphors.) Genetically modified? Don’t you mean, “Genetically modified to insidiously creep into our homes at night and strangle us with its leafy tentacles while we cry vainly for help?! This is where our own misinterpretation of GM food meets our over abundance of delightfully violent science fiction movies. Let’s try something: what if, instead of “genetically modified,”we use the term “selectively cross-bred” And what if we replace the ominous “MON810″with a name like “hardy corn” Would you be so fearful?
Well take heart, because “genetically modified”is just what farmers have been doing for millennia. GM food is just specialized breeding to eliminate non-desirable traits and emphasize desirable ones. And, if you’re still paranoid or ideologically opposed to GM food, talk to the citizens of India. Their population of over a billion people has avoided starvation thanks to “dwarf wheat,”a high-yield, high-tolerance strain of genetically modified food. Maybe you want to be the one to tell them that they’re going without lunch and dinner. Because you can’t eat ideology.
One would think that in the heart of haute cuisine country, there would be a bit more thought put into food growing. But what can you expect from a nation whose environmental minister has a name like Jean-Louis Borloo. Hey Jean, where’d you get your name? The French Stereotype store? Honestly, it sounds like he should be perched on the top of a castle wall yelling insults at a Monty Python character. (Now goo ahwey, oor I shall tauwnt you a zecond time-ma!)
Perhaps the home of purist thinking is an unsurprising place to find such anti-progress thought. Perhaps the French had a legitimate concern at one point ” though now that seems unlikely given the completely safe rating its own agency has given this strain of corn. But we are nearing seven billion people on this planet of ours, and at some point we need to figure out how to feed them. Because as much as Jean-Louis, or Pierre-Francois might hope, there are only so many frogs’ legs to go around.
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