Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Genetically modified tweets

Ahh yes, the new social media trends on the Internet.

Several years ago this newspaper ,and more specifically me, was attacked via various Internet vices. One cannot defend themselves from daily barrages of untruths, innuendos and made-up garbage.

Obviously, the best thing to do is ignore the ignoramus who posts things on Twitter, Facebook, bloggers and a host of pop-up sources. Unfortunately, once a dam is burst, it is difficult, if not impossible, to plaster over the damage.

The Internet provides us myriad ways to bully, threaten and destroy individuals, companies, habits and even sound medical and scientific information.

Case in point…

Last week General Mills succumbed to social media demands that started as a stream, then developed into a roaring river. The target of the Internet clamour was the iconic Cheerios.

GMOs, (genetically modified organisms) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. These techniques have allowed for the introduction of new crop traits as well as a far greater control over a food’s genetic structure than previously afforded by methods such as selective breeding and mutation breeding.

GMOs have provided bigger, faster growing  fruits and vegetables and more productive methods of farming with crops that are more resistant to disease and infestation. Good, right?

The purists feel we are somehow tampering with God Almighty and have attacked farmers and food companies through, you guessed it, the Internet.

Margaret Smith is a professor of plant breeding and genetics who leads a Cornell University program to help farmers and the public understand plant breeding and genetic engineering. She says the recent move by General Mills to eliminate genetically modified organisms from its Cheerios cereal might please GMO-shy consumers, but it won’t alter the iconic cereal’s make up one bit.

Smith says:

“Corn starch and sugar are highly refined products, so they contain no DNA (which is what is introduced into a genetically engineered organism) and no protein (which is what the new DNA would produce in a genetically engineered organism). Because of that, corn starch and sugar from a genetically engineered corn variety are nutritionally and chemically identical to corn starch or sugar from a non-genetically engineered variety.

“This means that the new version of Cheerios that is being made without use of genetically engineered varieties will be nutritionally and chemically identical to the previous version. So it will not offer anything new to consumers – other than to give them the option to buy a product that does not support planting more acres to genetically engineered crop varieties.”

Politicians, children, companies – all fall victim to the power an individual has to destroy, thanks to the misuse of social media. It has given power to the coward, the minority the voice to silence the majority, and more importantly, to silence common sense.