Perhaps a little dramatic, but not altogether off the mark. We’re talking about food that has had certain characteristics cut out, and others, perhaps from a different species, pasted in. How appropriate for the end of the 20th Century! We certainly know how to eat at nice fine dining restaurants and cut and paste on our computers, how to do heart and kidney and liver transplants, why not extend the metaphor to plants and animals?
Genetic engineering is a hot topic, although the industry does not want to call attention to it. Preferably, it should proceed quietly and inexorably, so that by the time we notice, it’s already here and inescapable. In fact, that’s what already has happened. According to the New York Times, some 45 million acres of farmland have been planted with biotech crops. At least 38 different crop species have been genetically engineered for specific traits, crops that include soy, cotton, corn, wheat, and potatoes. Your favorite miso, tempeh, soy sauce, cookies, and chips could have been manufactured from these “transgenic” crops. Or not. But, unless you buy organic food always, you have no way of knowing, because these foods are not labeled. Not only that, by law foods that are NOT genetically engineered may not say so. The idea is that if they advertise themselves as not genetically manipulated, that implies that genetically engineered foods are inferior — and the courts have held that such an implication interferes with a newly minted “right” of free speech by corporations. Isn’t our language wonderful?
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