“What is called good is perfect and what is called bad is just as perfect.”
Walt Whitman

Engineered Death


I started thinking about this when staring at my empty breakfast plate – tomato seeds all over it … all from one tomato. These thoughts continued to flow as I got busy with winter preserves, processing lots of vegetables, seeing lots of seeds. Most of those seeds got thrown away but had life potential inside them. If I were to save them (some I did) and plant them at the right time (which next spring I will do) and nurture them then they will grow into new plants which may gift me with even more food.

That is true for me because I live in rural Romania and get my food either from my own garden or from neighbor’s gardens – and we both plant traditional living seeds. But this is not obviously true for most people in the world.

For most of my life food was obvious. I didn’t participate in growing it and didn’t give much thought to how it was grown where it came from. I’d never seen a tomato plant grow until I came to Romania. The only “food-growing” experience I can recall from my childhood was placing an avocado pit braced over a cup of water with its end inside the water – and the pit would grow to become a small plant (though I never recall planting one in the earth). I tried that a few times in my adult life (in Israel, before moving to Romania) and it didn’t work anymore. Avocado trees in Israel were (by then) mostly genetically modified – they were probably more resistant and gave better yields, but they did not give new life.

This is not news. Nor is it news that much of the food in the western world has and is changing in this direction. Genetically modified plants are taking over (have taken over?). Now that food is a much more conscious part of my life I know more about this. Genetic engineering has been used to suppress and encourage many things (taste, appearance, disease resistance, climate resistance, shelf time, etc.) but the one thing that called out to me as I was staring at my plate of tomato seeds was that they were engineered to die. This isn’t a side-effect nor a quantative change to an existing natural quality. Genetic engineering has managed to create a self-destruct mechanism that prevents seeds from growing into new plants.

We (man kind) have engineered death into our own food. It isn’t a modification of a quality that was alread there – it is a completely new behavior that goes against what nature has provided for us. We engineered death. And this is what many people eat as nourishment. This goes beyond arguable flavor and nutrition … we added death into our own food. I immediately thought of cancer and felt an eerie sense of connection – is it possible that a death we introduced into our food is somehow related to a death we introduced into ourselves?

This self-inflicted violence is dwarfed by the fact that the people who have “achieved” this are not content with their devastating invention. In Romania (where corruption offers fertile conditions for such efforts) they are lobbying government to promote legislation that will outlaw traditional living seeds. It is not enough that they’ve engineered death, they now want to make sure that it is illegal to grow, sell and eat food that is naturally endowed with life. This forces upon me deep reflection.

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