Today, a dear friend passed along a link regarding a project in Oaxaca that seeks to save Mexico's native corn varieties. Maybe it was because it's 4 a.m. and I can't sleep. For whatever reason, I'm in a cranky mood and I felt motivated to talk about something from my past that I'm still a tiny bit bitter about. And this friend is really, really easy to open up to, so that might have something to do with it, too. It was my pre-cancer life when I was on my way to...what? An exciting future as a botanist or geneticist or pharmacologist? I'm so far from that person now, that I sometimes find it difficult to even remember who she was or what motivated her.
This incident might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but maybe it changed the course of my beliefs about the world. My grandfather practically revered science. I don't think I've ever said it here, but when he died we found out that he had donated his body to science. Tulane Medical School got the call from I don't know who, but they came and picked up his body straight from my grandmother's house. He'd never discussed his decision with anyone, but they showed us his papers where he'd agreed to it. I was shocked at first, but after a while it made perfect sense to me. It was just the sort of thing he'd do. I'm sure he loved the idea of being able to contribute something of value to the world of medical research. This is soooo besides the point of this post, so I'll get back to it.
I don't like to talk about it very often, but...In my academic days about a decade ago, I was once in a conference presenting my results of a study on GMOs and I was silly enough to believe that a bunch of biologists from universities around the nation would give a damn about this stuff. I even passed out little seed bags that I handed to people. I'd filled them with all sorts of seeds that can grow well indoors or outdoors. Most bio labs that I worked in had windows and I made sure to tell folks that these would grow fine in a window sill. I wanted to make it more than just a dry research review on tomatoes and rice.
So, ya' know. I presented my research results. The tl;dr version was about how we don't need to pump nutrients and other shit--excuse my language, but you know that's what it is--back into certain foods, because there were already varieties that already have a high nutritional value. So, I did the whole power point with the charts, figures, and blah blah blah. *I* was silly enough to believe that what I was saying would at least be mildly interesting. I mean, these are biologists. They are notorious for being able to get interested in teeny tiny results that almost no one will care about. I got a couple of polite questions and requests for copies, but it was mostly disinterest.
My feeling now is that change ain't going to come from a lab. I'm not anti-science or anything wacky like that. It's just...We're going to have to save ourselves by preserving whatever we can ourselves. The seed banks they're creating won't help us. You and I know that folks like us aren't going to be the kind that those folks in power think should be preserved if mankind has to start over from scratch or from whatever ruins our Grand Catastrophe leaves behind.
I'm just so disillusioned about the current state of things with plant genetics research. I mean, you'd think SCIENTISTS would be leading the charge in the fight for the preservation of biodiversity. I have opinions about why they're not, but I think I'd better save that rant for another day.