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COLUMN: GMOs not end of the world

The Book of Paul


Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 21:02

News broke last week that British scientists have been developing a substance that produces high levels of anthocyanins, a pigment found in fruits such as cranberries, blackberries and blueberries. But the pigment does much more than just lend a distinct hue to a few berries; it also helps increase visual acuteness, combat obesity and diabetes and has anti-inflammatory capabilities shown to slow down the spread of cancer in laboratory mice.

It all sounds pretty good to me, and I think it probably sounds pretty good to you as well, my fellow Aggies.

But what if I told you this beneficial substance was one of those dreaded GMOs — genetically modified organisms — you often hear horror stories about? Would you be deterred by the fact that scientists genetically modified regular red tomatoes by adding the purple pigment from the antirrhinum genus of plants, better known as snapdragons?

Pop culture provides negative connotations we associate with genetic engineering. These have largely been brought about by amazing — as seen in the film "Jurassic Park" — and ridiculous — such as seen in Adrien Brody's "Splice" — scientific ideas.

I, for one, am not bothered by this fact, and I made this publicly known earlier this week via a civil disagreement on Facebook. In that conversation, the person I was arguing with attempted to tell me GMOs are the leading cause of cancer in the world and engineered by greedy, bloodthirsty corporations only out to make a quick buck. I was then told everyone in America needs to go back to family farming in order to shut down these large-scale industrial farms.

I'm a journalist; facts are kind of what I've been brought up on, and I'm not one for fear-mongering or widespread farce. I think it's safe to assume most who read my weekly column are well aware of my political, moral and ideological beliefs. I did not vote for Willard "Mitt" Romney in the 2012 presidential election, I do not believe corporations are people and I am largely against the schemes and profiteering associated with American capitalism.

That being said, large-scale farming is here to stay, folks. And it's allowing a lot of good, old-fashioned Americans — and a lot of Utahns — to live their lives doing what they've  been doing for years.

When I think about farming, I see men and women who have put their blood, sweat and tears into their work. They tirelessly toil in their day-to-day routine to plant, weed, water, grow and harvest  the crops they can then sell and distribute to the stores where we shop. But farming has taken a hit over the years economically and is no longer the lucrative business it once was. In order to stay afloat, those farmers could no longer only grow small crops to feed their families and small communities.

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