The Washington Post ran a story yesterday about unapproved GMO wheat that was found on an Oregon farm. At this point it’s a big mystery how this happened, as this particular GMO wheat was last tested by Monsanto in a ‘controlled’ setting in 2005.
From what I’ve observed so far, most in the organic industry are initially viewing this as a potentially catastrophic event, claiming that drift from GMOs is more widespread than we previously thought and that GMO contamination of organic fields is inevitable.
Indeed, it is quite unsettling that this wheat has so randomly turned up- and makes me wonder how (in the hell!?) the courts have yet to make Monsanto and others who hold the patents to GMO crops liable for cross-contamination.
However, is this incident bad news? It feels like it. Our first reaction to news like this is usually based on fear- fear of the unknown. But to know if something is truly bad, time must pass.This classic story of the Chinese rice farmer illustrates this point perfectly…
A farmer’s only horse ran away. The neighbors, trying to console him, said, “What terrible news about your horse. What will you do?” But the farmer said, “Bad news, good news… who knows?”
A few days later, the horse returned, leading an entire herd of wild horses. The neighbors exclaimed, “How wonderful!” The farmer replied, “Good news, bad news… who knows?”
The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the new horses. The horse threw the son, who broke both legs. The neighbors said, “What a misfortune! Your son won’t be able to work on the farm.” The farmer stood still and said, “Bad news, good news… who knows?”
Within the week, news of a war had broken out. Soldiers arrived in the village, taking new recruits. All the young men were drafted to fight, except for the farmer’s son.
From the WaPo article:
“The discovery could have far-reaching implications for the U.S. wheat industry if the growth of the engineered product turns out to be far-flung. Many countries around the world will not accept imports of genetically modified foods, and the United States exports about half of its wheat crop.”
I contend that this event could actually be good news- it could be a paradigm shift that favors the non-GMO movement. As an entire commodity industry is now threatened with losing its export business, we in the organics industry could be gaining some substantial allies. Cargill, for example, might be quite concerned at this point, as they are responsible for 25% of the US’s grain exports. Imagine Cargill’s export lobby and Monsanto’s GMO lobby battling against each other….
Good news? Bad news? Who Knows?