Over the past several years I have spent a great deal of time in high-security, limited-access genetic modification laboratories. While researching my latest book, I peered at glow-in-the-dark grapes (their seeds spiked with jellyfish genes), inspected attempts to create square tomatoes (a yet-to-be-decoded DNA sequence may dictate the shape of all fruit), and marveled at rice plants engineered to be immune to Asia’s deadliest rice blight. None of the GMO cornucopia I ogled is commercially available—yet. But even if these laboratory specimens never make it to the shelves, about 70 percent of processed foods in U.S. supermarkets already contain genetically modified ingredients.
Should you be concerned about the healthfulness of such foods? This question monopolized a good deal of the recent diatribes deployed in the lead-up to last month’s vote on California’s Proposition 37, which would have mandated labeling on GM foods.
But this is the wrong question.
Here’s why: GM foods’ effect on health is uncertain, but their effect on farmers, scientists, and the marketplace is clear. Some GM foods may be healthy, others not; every genetic modification is different. But every GM food becomes dangerous—not to health, but to society—when it can be patented. Right now, the driving force behind the development of new genetic crop modifications is the fact that they possess the potential to be enormously profitable, and the source of those potential profits is a seemingly innocuous bit of legal code:
Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor.
View the original article here: Genetically Monetized Food