GENTECH archive


Reply to Dirk Thomsen, archive 844

Dear Dirk:

I have written about this before on the list, but perhaps it was before you
subscribed. Farmers need virus, insect and some (but not all!!) kinds of
herbicide resistant crops to reduce their environmental impacts and health
risks.  There has been and continues to be a huge effort to develop
non-chemical controls, but the thin profitability of some farming systems
(and intractability of the pests) makes this very difficult.  In the case
of weeds, the key issue is that herbicides have proven to be much cheaper
and easier on soil erosion than alternative controls.

Monsanto and all other companies are obviously obligated first and foremost
to look after the interests of their stock holders.  However, at least
Monsanto and I think also Novartis have given some technology to less
developed countries. An example is technology for virus resistant potatoes
to Mexico. However, I also find the feed the world line to be speculative,
and assume that the main reason Monsanto adopts it is to counter some of
the even more ludicrous claims of many of its opponents.


>Hi Rick
>One question that comes to my mind since I read messages from this list,
>that comes also to my mind when I read the email concerning  the economy
>and ecology of the new varieties in archive #833, discussions whether or
>not GE varieties need a special treatment, whether or not growers plant
>more seed because they are happy with GE varieties etc is: Why do we need
>GE varieties anyway (which would be a bit too simple) connected with the
>question why aren't agriculturalists and horticulturalists try to change
>the way they cultivate their land. The conventional way in agriculture is
>not the way to get most of the energy out you put into the system. Why e.g.
>"create" a salt tolerant variety of wheat and why not try to change the
>destruction of the soil by changing the way it is abused ? Maybe these
>questions are too simple but ...
>One of the good things you wrote, Rick, is the money making thing. And I
>think it would be much more pleasant if Monsanto would say that they want
>to make money without the feeding the hungry of the world bit. They won't
>change the distribution of food, and hunger will therefore persist. I doubt
>that Monsanto or any other company in this technology supports projects in
>the so-called developing countries to beat the hunger where it actually is.
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