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Practicing organic agriculture is increasingly difficult as agrochemical conglomerates seek to possess and alter the genes of all the seeds that produce people's food. Their means of total control include ending traditional seed production in favor of transgenic or genetically modified seeds, which are patentable.
To speed this up, some companies are promoting new regulations.
Organic farmers are also having increasing difficulty protecting the genetically natural crops they grow from cross-pollination by being close to GM crops.
These alterations in our food system ignore the fundamental principles of organic food and agriculture and this can wreak unpredictable havoc.
Many scientists agree that in the long term, increasing monocultures, for example of soybean varieties from only a few genetic strains, will increase the vulnerability of the crops to disease.
In addition to focusing on a single huge crop, industrial agriculture eliminates undesirable elements in a production system (such as a pest) by exerting an external force (such as a pesticide) without taking into account the ecological cost, such as poisoning the pollinators.
According to the entomologist Prof. Edward Wilson, we must consider the fact, for example, that one out of every three bites of food we eat depends on pollinators. If our farming systems continue to harm pollinators, crop productivity will suffer.
When organic farming was introduced in the early 1900s, proponents like Rudolph Steiner and others were concerned about the breakdown of vital ecological connections that were being ignored by the then emerging industrial agriculture. They knew that if we did not maintain the health of the entire ecosystem, then agriculture could not remain productive in the long run.
Organic agriculture recognizes that nature is a uniform ecosystem, yet it consists of many different ecological areas, each made up of networks of interdependent, numerous, and local plant and animal species. So every organic farm needs to fit into its local organic neighborhood. When we fit planting practices into a diverse natural system, the system itself takes care of production problems. In organic farming, the land is seen as an organism, not a factory.
History shows us that the systems where agricultural lands are designed to fit into the local ecological surroundings, to feed local people, are the most sustainable and productive.
Perhaps the most hopeful food and agriculture activity today is one that the organic industry has largely ignored - a movement of roots - that dramatically reduces the distance between farmers and consumers. This new food system includes subscription farming or community-supported farming, in which local citizens contract directly with farmers to grow certain organic foods for them. The goal is to ensure an adequate supply of genetically natural seeds.
Most of the dramatic changes in societies, like the civil rights movement, were started by local people. Conversations about sustainable food systems need to be started in local communities.
According to the RAFI organization, farmers who use genetically modified seeds will be trapped in biological control systems that will inevitably lead to bioservidity. The ability to externally insert and manipulate vital DNA sequences in crops (and possibly insects and livestock) threatens national sovereignty over agricultural and other biological resources.
On its website, the RAFI organization states that the most obvious peculiarity of this biotechnology is the suicide sequence of exotic genes, which is activated by an antibiotic and causes the seed to become infertile in the next generation. Agronomically, Terminator does not offer the slightest advantage. They also say that the biological reality of this monopoly strategy hides even darker facets of this technology. The two original Terminator patents - USDA / Monsanto (US Patent # 5,723,765 issued March 3, 1998) and AstraZeneca (US Patent # 5,808,034 issued September 15, 1998) - prove that it is possible to turn specific genes on and off or, possibly multigenetic characteristics - by applying the external catalyst of the company's choice. Although the use of technology to create sterility seems to be the most lucrative possibility, RAFI thinks that the same strategy could also promote other characters with new negative consequences.
There is a European rejection of American GM corn and soybeans due to consumer resistance. Within the last 3 months, large multinational food processors and providers of basic necessities such as Nestle, Cadbury, Unliever, Cargil and ConAgra have decided to stop selling genetically modified food in Europe. However, they continue to distribute them in the US market (The Green Guide, p. 3, August 1999). Europeans are not only avoiding foods made from GM seeds but are also fighting American exports of other genetically modified organisms, particularly milk and cattle that have been treated with hormones. Because this could harm agribusinesses, the US government appears to be concerned about public acceptance of these products (Herbs for Health, p. 76, Nov / Dec 1999).
A new report from the British Medical Association, "Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity" warns that technology to enable scientists to make biological weapons, which would only affect specific populations, could be ready within 5 years. British biologists are being encouraged to take greater responsibility for the potential hazards of their work.
The Genome Project and the Genome Diversity Project are not only mapping humanity's genes, but are also revealing genetic differences between groups of people. For example, an article in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 60, page 957 shows how it is possible to develop sets of genetic markers that distinguish between African, American, European, or Hispanic. This would be enough for biological weapons designers to create bacteria, which would only infect people who belong to one of these groups (New Scientist January 30, 1999, p. 45).
Debates on biotechnology have focused on the possibility of unforeseen dietary risks from genetic changes in foods and therefore in food products (Matutation Research, 1999; 443: 223).