QSince Nature has had several million years to modify plants and animals to the most life-sustaining tolerances, on a scale of 1 to 10 what is the level of arrogance required to believe that a non-human entity, ie: corporation, armed with nothing more than

Since Nature has had several million years to modify plants and animals to the most life-sustaining tolerances, on a scale of 1 to 10 what is the level of arrogance required to believe that a non-human entity, ie: corporation, armed with nothing more than money and lawyers and less than 50 year old technology can do better?

AExpert Answer

First off, I should say I disagree with the premise of the question.  Nonhuman entities don’t breed plants and animals for agricultural production.  Humans do―plant breeders, scientists, farmers...and the list goes on.  Does anyone really think if they walk into an agricultural facility that the only things to be found inside will be dollar bills and lawyers?  GMO, conventional or organic plant breeding and research have decades of research and trials behind a product that growers can readily purchase.

 

To the point of whether we can do better than nature, which has spent eons and not mere decades perfecting crops and animals, I would have to say, for the intended purposes, yes, we sometimes can. Without regard to production method, humans have been tailoring crops and animals to their liking for thousands, if not millions, of years. Not every variety or every breed is suited to every situation. I’m pretty sure there aren’t wild herds of Jersey cows running across the fruited plains. 

 

Corn is another example. Corn as we know it does not really exist in nature, yet it is a staple grain across the globe. What everyone recognizes as corn today is the result of thousands of years of selective breeding going back to a plant called teosinte, which barely looks like corn. In more recent history, most corn hybrids have been bred to have upright leaves versus droopy leaves, because upright leaves intercept sunlight better.

 

Norman Borlaug is credited with saving a billion lives or more because of his research with wheat resulting in crosses with high yields and disease resistance. 

 

As for the idea that humans aren’t part of nature, at least not in the way a redwood tree would be viewed as part of nature, I would argue that agriculture itself is not natural. Once you start lining up plants in rows and assisting them in their fight against weeds, pests, bugs and even precipitation, or fence in livestock to shelter them from predators, I don’t think that’s quite the same as hunting and foraging while living in a cave.

 

With GMOs, we aren’t doing things nature doesn’t do already. Herbicide resistance exists in nature. The most obvious example is spraying a lawn with 2,4-D to kill dandelions. The grass doesn’t die. Cereal rye kills weeds with an herbicide of its own creation. Are biotech crops made to express traits they don’t normally have? Yes. Breeders also employ mutagenesis techniques, even in organic crops. The genetic manipulation of the things we grow isn’t limited to biotechnology.

 

I’m inclined to believe it is human nature that keeps driving innovation forward. 

Posted on January 3, 2018
Farmers have a choice to which seed they purchase, sell, plant and grow - whether biotech, conventional or organic. Although, with the 10 crops available in the U.S., only a few varieties of sweet corn, squash, potato and apples have genetically engineered options.   Expert Katie Pratt, a farmer from Illinois, discusses in this response how her family farm chooses specific seeds to plant and grow.   Michelle Miller, also known as The Farm Babe, briefly explains industrial... Read More
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Posted on January 2, 2018
Thank you for your questions, we would like to address these individually.   Why are GMOs created if scientists are not aware if it is really harmful? and Are GMOs really safe if you’re mixing to different DNA strands? yes GMOs are safe. In fact, according to this response, “the overwhelming consensus of scientific experts and major scientific authorities around the world, including the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and... Read More
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Posted on January 3, 2018
What we know from decades of scientific safety studies and research is that GM foods are safe for humans to eat. In fact, according to this response, “the overwhelming consensus of scientific experts and major scientific authorities around the world, including the World Health Organization, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the American Medical Association have ruled that GMOs are safe.”   “In the spring of 2016, The National Academies of Science,... Read More
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