I usually steer clear of politics. I hate our two-party system and wish we could have other choices. But I have been listening to the debates, and I admit that I cheered a couple times during Barack’s come-backs to Romney (“we don’t have as many horses and bayonets either.”) But there is one issue on the California ballot that could actually change things: Prop 37. It basically requires food to be labeled if it is genetically modified. I worked in genetics labs for years when I was studying Biology at the University of Washington. Among other things, I sequenced DNA. We were fumbling around in the dark. We didn’t know then (or now) exactly how DNA worked. There’s an elaborate signaling system (I was studying protein kinase receptors) that is still being worked out.
So when I hear that scientists are genetically modifying food, I think I know what that looks like. Lots of growing vector bacteria, lots of scattershot insertion of DNA into that vector, and then the insertion of the replicated DNA into the organism. Grow the genetically modified plant out and see what happened. It is science, but that doesn’t mean it’s exact. I’m all for science–I love that I don’t have polio or that, during flu season, I can get a flu vaccination. But science needs to be tested to be sure it’s safe. The GMO plants don’t seem like they have been put through vigorous enough trials to prove that it’s absolutely safe for human consumption. That’s why I’m voting yes for 37! (If you don’t live in Cali, if it passes here, it might show up in other progressive states soon).
Also, tonight (October 23) I’ll be doing a reading/talk with Rebecca Solnit at USF Cowell Hall, Room 106. 7:30. I’m bringing figs and limes–GMO free, naturally.