One of the subjects that had struck me the most in our previous class was the fact that we have been losing a lot of genetic varieties of food. Some of which have even lost out on its taste due to genetic modification. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, up to seventy five percent of food diversity has been lost in the last century. Some of the reasons why this is so is because the corporate side of agriculture have been trying to standardize aspects of the food trade. This is to better suit and cater to a larger market in terms of distance and scale.

A genetically modified seed is made to grow optimally in certain weather conditions. If the weather is as it is supposed to be, the crop will be bountiful but if it is not, there might not even be any crop to harvest. In the recent years, climate change has affected the world in many ways. Having the weather be unstable, the crops might not even grow since the seeds have been modified to work only with the slated conditions. Planting the same crop over a large area which is also known as monoculture makes the crop more susceptible to pests and blight. This creates a danger of losing the entire crop or genetic strain that can not be used any longer. Since there are lesser varieties now, it creates a rather frightening thought that we could lose out on even more varieties of plans than we already have.

In an article by Sifelani Tsiko, she mentions a conversation she has with an elderly woman whom is lamenting about how a variety of pearl millet that she used to grow in the 1940s and 60s had disappeared completely. The old lady also mentions how there were certain herbs and vegetation that was used as traditional natural medicinal cures could no longer be found. This brings up another interesting point about losing genetic varieties of our food, we are also losing natural cures of ailments that we now have to create using man made chemicals. Replacing natural items that our bodies were made to ingest with chemicals that never existed in nature in the first place can definitely affect us in the long run, perhaps even through generations.
To end off, I would just like to add a personal note about a fictional book I had read prior called The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. It was based upon a post-apocalyptic world where fossil fuels had been almost depleted and food shortages were an epidemic because multinational corporations were engaged in a war of genetic engineering of the world’s food supplies. The story takes place in Bangkok, Thailand because even though the rest of the world had been devastated, a rogue scientist had managed to protect its agriculture by preserving an extensive seed bank. Though it is fictional, when I learned about the topic of the food diversity and genetics in class, it suddenly made the story seem scarily like an actually possibility in the future.

– Amanda Koh



9 responses »

  1. Rachel Schwarting says:

    I hadn’t thought of it like that before, but it makes sense that the less variety we have, the more dependent we have to be. Kind of a scary thought.

  2. Elaine Wu says:

    It’s strange how the man-made chemicals that were supposed to benefit us have ultimately harmed what is naturally right.

  3. Ben Anderson says:

    Yea it’s really scary the idea of not having a choice about what to eat and being completely dependent on corn products only or something. Makes me wonder what our grandchildren will be eating

  4. It bothers me too, that people do not know much about how our food is made, and produced. I think we need to go back local food buying and raising. Also it would be better if we ate indigenous and seasonally.

    -Destiny Burch

    • Amanda Koh says:

      This is very true. There was once someone in Ringling walked past me and said, Ew! Raw meat! And I told them that the more disturbing fact was them being irked by how natural meat looks like because they’re so used to instant or processed food. I guess that is one of the nature of having convenience food so easily available to us now.

    • April says:

      I enjoyed the video that you for posting it. It all goes back to convenience. We live in a consumer driven world where you buy a great iphone and months later they come out with “a newer and better version” of the same thing you just bought. We are used to getting things handed to us and its just easier for us to go to a large grocery store rather than a farmers market and get the food that will take less than 30mins to cook and have on the table. It is quit disturbing.

  5. Eric De Barros says:

    This is a cool post. Also Food Inc. is good. I think the main problem a lot of people have is a lack of interest in where there food is coming from. The more you think about what you eat, and where it came from, and what its doing to your body, the better decisions you’re going to make.

  6. Ryan Schnee says:

    There is another movie made by the same creators of Food Inc. that was shown on campus last year and it was really good. I can’t remember the name though. It was nice because throughout the movie, even though it was expressing things that were negative such as the corruption in the food industry and it’s killing of farming communities, it still had a strong sense of optimism. I’ll try to get back with the title of the movie.

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