It’s been said that humans are what they eat. The relationship humans have with food is unappreciated. Food is the fuel that keeps humans going, gives them the energy needed to be creative and productive; it is the building block of society, after all, it wasn’t until the Neolithic Era, when humans figured out a way to domesticate plants and animals, that any form of organized society formed. Even during the previous hunter-gatherer foraging era, humans were very connected to the food they ate; understanding where it came and having an idea of how it came to be was crucial to knowing what was vital to survive. In this time, food sources like grains, fruits, and vegetables were naturally abundant, whole. Humans could choose between many different types of nutritious food because there were thousands of varieties of species. Unfortunately, as populations grew and more civilized societies formed, various farming techniques were created, and a vast majority of these species became extinct to make way for the harvesting of a select few (Pringle). In the industrial era, societies around the world, especially western ones, emphasized the importance of technological advancements. With this pursuit of technology, nature became something to control rather than live with; an attempt at making life simpler, better. Breaching the gap between nature and technology is optimization. It is this obsession with optimization that most accurately characterizes contemporary America. Undoubtedly, it comes with great costs. As it turns out, optimization is a business, and a profitable one. Thus, the costs and effects of optimization are often hidden from the public by industrial leaders in an effort to maintain profits. They control the businesses they run and protect themselves by dumping millions of dollars into politics. Today, it seems that the gap between nature and technology has been breached with the propagation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The aliens that now fill supermarkets nationwide represent the ultimate disconnect from natural, whole foods necessary for a healthy lifestyle. People are relatively uninformed about GM foods, issues include: their benefits, the testing and safety, the harmful effects they can have on the body and environment, the government’s role as overseer, the labeling controversy, and the “substantially equivalent” principle; all of these issues are conveniently hidden vitalities in understanding the danger, the deleterious effects, and the risks of GM foods. In tackling these issues, an additional understanding of the historic background of how GMOs came to be is equally important.
Advocates for the rapid advance of technology will cite the numerous positive breakthroughs, the internet, healthcare, the numerous inventions; it’s hard to argue with, which is why when addressing GM foods, the emphasis should be placed on the relationship between technology and nature, specifically within the food industry, and how this relationship has become too intimate, to the point where it’s difficult to differentiate between technology and nature. The courtship leading to the marriage between technology and nature is exemplified in Peter Pringle’s book, Food, Inc., in which he discusses the 1960’s Green Revolution, a turning point in agriculture during which producers moved from traditional to monoculture methods of farming. This vastly increased crop yields. But how? Farmers had high yields because they started to use fertilizers and pesticides containing chemicals like nitrogen, left over from World War II explosives. New irrigation systems were introduced and animals replaced some human labor in order to handle the large crop fields and monoculture agriculture provided food relief to starving nations post-war (Pringle). Farmers experienced a rude awakening when yields started to decline due to a number of unforeseen or unaddressed consequences. Although the Green Revolution saved or improved millions of...
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