Monday, September 8, 2014

Mindful Monday: Hybrids vs GMOs, a Brief Comparison

Last week, I posted the picture below on my Facebook page, both for the blog and personally.

It caused a bit of controversy on my personal page, where someone left a comment:
that's super adorable in that it's factually incorrect."
Someone else replied to that:
"Just saying it doesn't make it so, (name). How is it incorrect specifically."
I posted a link that gave the definition of a GMO as it is used in today's society.  When the first person commented that my link was not creditable because of the source,, I came to a few realizations. .  .

  1. I was reluctant to use that particular website because of the possibility of subjectivity, but I thought the definition was valid and I assumed (mistake) that someone arguing against the picture would side with this page.
  2. It comes across that the person arguing the point didn't read the article and it's contained definition.
  3. This person never gave support of their argument, but insisted on telling me I am wrong and naive/stupid.
  4. The article only gave a definition for GMO, and did not include hybrids specifically.
  5. Maybe society doesn't really understand the difference between hybrids and GMOs.
I was pretty worked up by this online confrontation.  (Partly because they drag out vs. a verbal debate that is instantaneous.)  So I thought I'd give the definitions and my views here on the blog.

First, I think it's important to point out that, yes, hybrids and GMOs are the same. . . on a very generic, non-specific level.

Hybrids are the offspring of two organisms from differing races, breeds, species, or genres.  Merriam Webster defines it:

GMOs are organisms modified by science in a controlled environment and utilizing DNA from one organism injected into another organism--gene splicing.  

"Genetically modified foods are plants or animals that have had genes copied from other plants or animals inserted into their DNA. It's not a new idea — humans have been tinkering with genes for centuries through selective breeding. Think dogs bred to be more docile pets, cattle bred to be beefier or tomatoes bred to be sweeter. Turkeys were bred to have bigger breasts — better for Thanksgiving dinner. 
What's different about genetically modified or engineered foods is that the manipulation is done in a lab. Engineers don't need to wait for nature to produce a desired gene; they speed up the process by transferring a gene from one plant or animal to another. 
What are the desired traits? Most of the nation's corn and soybeans are genetically engineered to resist pests and herbicides. A papaya in Hawaii is modified to resist a virus. The FDA is considering an application from a Massachusetts company to approve a genetically engineered salmon that would grow faster than traditional salmon."
                                                                                              ~Huffington Post 

Now, here is my thinking on hybrids and GMOs.
  • On a very basic level, hybrids are GMOs.
  • Man has been cross-pollinating and cross-breeding plants and animals for centuries.  That's why we have the diversity of dog, cat, horse, cattle, and other domesticated animals that we have.  It is also why we have certain plants in our gardens, both for food and aesthetic reasons.
  • Nature creates hybrids all the time.  Bees go from one flower to another, species to species, cross-pollinating the plants and producing hybrids.  
  • GMOs are created by science.  NOT nature.  
  • If you want to guarantee that the plant matter you consume is neither hybrid nor GMO, grow it yourself.  In a closed green house.  And do your own pollination to get your plants to produce their promised fruit.  Oh yes, and you must use seeds cultivated yourself from this process, or seeds that are certified heirloom--which have their own, very specific set of regulations for labeling them as such.
  • GMO technology may one day save me from the torment of living with Type I Diabetes.  It may provide a path to curing many deadly diseases. 
You are, of course, entitled to your own opinions on this very controversial subject.  I have had my say.  If you think I am wrong, that's fine.  I will not challenge you.  But don't challenge me or tell me I'm wrong if you are not prepared to defend your statement.  Teach me.  

After all. . .
We can learn nothing without the education of others.

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