Two things today have prompted me to really step out of my comfort zone and post something a little controversial. Anyone who knows me know that I really hate controversy. I want everyone to be happy and get along. I want people with differing points of view to have intelligent and respectful conversations, and even though neither side will most likely switch allegiances, it would at least be nice for both sides of any controversial fence to at least understand where each other is coming from. This is sometimes difficult for me, because I’m a cynic at heart and I’m quick to roll my eyes at things I disagree with. However, over the years I have actually listened to the other side of my fence and have found that through the process have come more to the center and less hateful and judgy over others’ opinions.
First thing this morning I was scrolling through FB and saw a post from my favorite Cowgirl about why she doesn’t “eat clean.” I whole heartedly agree with her assessment and share similar opinions about “clean eating.” I completely turn a deaf ear to anyone who tries to preach at me about why I’m doing it all wrong! I eat healthy (for the most part) but I don’t get my panties in a wad over eating something non-organic, or containing sugar, or (gasp) has white flour in it.
I was watching the noon news – what??? I don’t watch news – and they were talking about the bananas in Uganda. I found a brief synopsis of what the news story was about, but this doesn’t go into a ton of detail – just enough to give you an idea. Uganda is a large banana grower. It’s a huge part of their dietary staple. The bananas have very low amounts of vitamin A. Because of the low quantities of vitamin A in the diet of Ugandans, 80% of their children are in health crisis. From blindness to respiratory issues to skin issues, pretty much a whole country is dealing with a big time health issue.
Enter the scientists. There is a type of banana grown in a different country (sorry, I don’t remember which one) that is high in vitamin A. So the scientists have been working on producing a banana for the Ugandans that would be higher in vitamin A and more parasite resistant (another issue Uganda has is that there has been a parasite attacking their crops and causing them to fail). You know what this means, right? GMO. Oh my god, I feel like I’ve just said a dirty word. Only I don’t feel like it’s a dirty word.
Here is what I don’t understand about the anti-GMO people. Why is it a bad thing for scientists to take traits from a banana in (forgotten)country and blend it with traits from a Ugandan banana? Is it wrong to want to help 80% of a country recover from health issues that are preventable? I have a hybrid rose in my flower garden and nobody cares. Why is a hyrid banana so bad?
I do not understand why a large number of people are so anti-GMO. I can’t see any scientific reason for being anti-GMO. From a compassionate and humanitarian perspective, it is so far beyond me why there is such push-back against giving the bananas in Uganda an extra kick.
When I went grocery shopping today the store was full of people handing out free samples and pushing their wares. As I walked past one such kiosk, I heard the sales guy saying (almost gleefully), “And they’re GMO-free!!” It was all I could do to not walk right up to him and shriek, “DON’T YOU KNOW ABOUT UGANDAN BANANAS!?”