You know Grumpy has always shied away from controversy, preferring to shower love on all the world. But there is one burning issue upon which I must take a stand. I must stand up for GMOs.
What’s a GMO?
That’s a good question! Let me begin by pointing out something that a lot of you think is a GMO.
This is a GTO — a classic, high-performance car immortalized in 1960 by Ronnie & the Daytonas in their hit song, “Little GTO.” While it is a marvel of design and technology, it is not now nor will it ever be a GMO.
Messing with Genes
“GMO” stands for “Greatly Misunderstood Octopus.” (Naw, I’m just kidding, although I do feel cephalopods get a bad rap in our people-centric society.) “GMO” really stands for “genetically modified organism.” What that means is that you identify a gene in one organism that produces a specific trait, remove it, and then insert that gene into a totally different organism and hope for the best.
Good examples — corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, and other crops genetically modified to tolerate spraying with the herbicide Roundup; corn and cotton outfitted with a gene from a bacterium that manufactures a toxin that kills caterpillars; golden rice that provides high amounts of Vitamin A to malnourished people in the Third World; and, of course, the rainbow-colored sheep at the top of the page.
Some folks object to the artificial manipulation of genes. They worry that weeds and bugs will develop resistance to Roundup Ready corn and B.t. cotton, creating super-weeds and super-bugs nothing can kill. (Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superbug!) Other people don’t like the idea of eating food that contains genes that shouldn’t naturally be there. Even though as yet there’s no scientific proof GM food is bad for you (don’t take Grumpy’s word for it — Michael Pollan says so), many consumers don’t want to consume it. They call it “Frankenfood” — an obvious cheap shot at Minnesota Senator Al Franken.
The Good of Mad Science
The problem with bashing all GMOs as dangerous is that this knee-jerk reaction ignores all the good that they do. Here are a few examples of how GMOs are already providing very real and important benefits to this country and all of mankind.
A Cure for Male-Pattern Baldness
Forget Rogaine. Scientists in the small Asian country of Stanthemanistan have discovered a remarkable, latent gene in strawberries that when turned on, causes the berries to grow hair. Once this gene is implanted in humans, no one would be denied a healthy head of hair.
New Hearts from Spuds
Take heart, those of you with failing hearts. In just a few years, you may no longer have to rely on undependable artificial hearts or wait on a list for a heart transplant. Food scientists in Idaho have discovered that by inserting human stem cells into russet potatoes, the potatoes transform themselves into living, beating human hearts! And unlike heart transplants, there’s no fear of rejection, because as we all know, every human loves potatoes.
New Treatment for E.D.
When the moment is right, you want to be ready. But for men with E. D., that means popping expensive pills whenever she finishes watching “True Blood.” Now there may be a less expensive alternative. Plant geneticists at USDA are putting the finishing touches on the “love carrot.” This randy root stimulates blood flow twice as fast as current prescription medications, no matter if it’s sliced, slivered, or juiced. Consume some and within seconds, people will look at you with awe and exclaim, “You must have had a V-8!”
Veggies That Fight Back
Did stinkbugs decimate your helpless tomato and pepper plant this summer? Soon, this will be a thing of the past. Through genetic engineering, scientists are developing crops that not only don’t need pesticides to defend themselves, but actively seek out and kill the pest.
For example, the highly promising banana pepper above is fully capable of tracking down, killing, and digesting a variety of destructive insect pests, including stinkbugs, caterpillars, flea beetles, and tomato hornworms. How is this possible? Simple.
Scientists inserted genes from the Sydney funnel-web spider into the peppers. This large and aggressive spider from Australia is one of the three deadliest spiders in the world. Needless to say, every bug with any brains at all will flee in terror from the new spider pepper.
GMOs Are Our Friends
Well, I hope I’ve allayed your misplaced fears about the safety of GMOs in our foods and medicines. GMOs are our friends. Science is here to help us. So there’s really no need for labels to tell us which foods and medicines contain GMOs. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?