Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Monday, May 10, 2004

Feel safer?

Monsanto will not be marketing Roundup-Ready Wheat - for now.

Let's have a quick overview, for you city-dwellers out there.

Roundup is a herbicide - a non-selective one. Other herbicides tend to be selective about what they kill, only knocking out the broad-leafed plants in a grain field, for instance. But Roundup kills whatever it hits. You know that spray bottle you bought at the garden supply place - the one you use to spray your dandelions? That's Roundup.

Roundup-Ready grains are grains that don't die from Roundup - which means that a field of this grain can be sprayed generously, with the expectation that all the other plants will die. Monsanto likes selling genetically-modified grainseed, but they like selling Roundup at least as much. This is "synergy" in the GMO world.

Now, if you're the type to fear GMOs, don't feel too pleased about this... Roundup-Ready Canola has been growing in Canadian fields for years. And canola is the soy of Canadian processed foods - check almost any box or can in a Canadian grocery store, and if there's "vegatable oil", what you have there is Canola - probably Roundup-Ready canola, at least in part. (If you're reading in the USA, feeling all smug about your soy, don't. It's almost certainly GMO as well)

I'm not that type. I'll happily eat all the three-headed pigs you can serve me, so long as they're in bacon form. But what I'm not entirely comfortable with is fields and fields of Roundup, breeding resistance into the weed world. Like antibiotic overuse, too much Roundup over time undermines the effectiveness of the product. For that reason, I'm concerned, not with the GMOs themselves, but with what companies like Monsanto have decided GMOs are for - not feeding the world, just moving a slow product. Monsanto's retreat on R-R wheat in the face of consumer and government resistance was a step in the right direction, but only the first.

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