We watched the new animated movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last night. This is actually not a movie review, but I am sure some of the more uber-religious are going to ‘have at me’ for watching worldly films. Someone called me a “phony not a pastor” a couple of weeks ago because I watch Hollywood movies. Always keep in mind that those who protest the loudest are often the ones with the most skeletons in the closet. This is as tame a family film as you will find anywhere. It is a lot of fun, completely zany and surprisingly original for a change. It has a great father/son relationship message and although I’m not certain if there is any deliberately intended social commentary, of course… I see one.
The story takes place in a little sardine fishing village called Swallow Falls on an island in the Atlantic. Because their only industry is sardines and nobody really likes sardines, they have to eat them all themselves and life is a very boring culinary existence. A young nerdy inventor named Flint Lockwood desperately wants to make a name for himself and builds a machine that can turn water into food. The machine ends up being trapped in the atmosphere over the island and it begins raining food on the delighted townspeople. Predictably, things start to go horribly wrong as the food begins to mutate and becomes bigger and bigger. I will stop here and avoid the spoiler alert.
Now I am not sure if the movie is making a statement on genetically modified food (GMO) or not, but I couldn’t help but see one. Bio-genetic engineering is quietly going on behind the scenes at an astonishing pace. There are already many foods that you eat everyday that are genetically modified and you don’t even know it. For example; you cannot buy margarine that is not made out of Canola. Check the label, even if the lid says olive oil it is probably mostly made from Canola oil . Canola was originally developed from rapeseed (an industrial oil seed) using traditional plant breeding technology to reduce inedible erucic acid. Whether we got a healthier oil out of it or not is a matter of debate. In 1997 however agri-biz giant Monsanto took it a step further. They trans-genetically modified (cross species breeding) Canola in order to make it resistant to their Round-up herbicide. To be specific they inserted the gene of the enzyme 5-enolypyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase from the CP4 strain of Agrobacterium tumefaciens as well as the glyphosate oxidase gene. Say what? I won’t even get into the fact that Monsanto owns the patent on the GMO Canola variety and will sue farmers for trying to plant their own seed that they have grown from it. Of bigger concern is the fact that scientists do not know if the forced insertion of one gene from one species into another gene of another destabilizes the organism, encourages mutations or produces abnormalities. Likewise, no one knows if or how eating mutated food could affect people’s own DNA. Neither Canada nor the US require labeling of GMO foods. Virtually all of the Canola that goes into making your table margarine has been genetically modified. You are eating it every day.
There are hundreds of different foods that are now genetically modified. One bio-tech company engineered a soybean with a gene from a Brazil nut, to aid in pest resilience. Brazil nuts are not prone to bug infestation. Many people are allergic to Brazil nuts, some to life-threatening levels. If someone with a severe allergy to Brazil nuts were to eat this specific GMO soy in tofu, they could have an outbreak. Fortunately in this case, a laboratory test picked up on the allergen and the soy never made it to our supermarkets. The argument justifying all of this is the need to feed an increasing global population. The concept of giant over-sized fruits and vegetables is not science fiction anymore. A frost resistant tomato was developed by adding a gene from the fish Flounder. That’s just kind of creepy.
Bio-genetic engineering gets even scarier when it comes to humans and animals. We all marvelled in 1997 when scientists is Scotland cloned the first sheep. Her name was Dolly. What many don’t know is that Dolly died of old age at 6 years old, about half of the normal 11 or12. Australia’s first cloned sheep didn’t make it to 3 years old. The animals were full of diseases typically found ony in much older sheep. Human cloning is now entirely possible. I am quite certain it is not being considered because we don’t have enough poeple on the planet. The real agenda is therauputic cloning. In other words, cloning for the purpose of harvesting spare body parts. One day wealthy movie stars will be able to have spare parts cloned so as they age and become unemployably ugly they can go in for a full upgrade. I wonder if Donald Trump’s clone will be bred with the same hideous hair? The ethical considerations in all of this are frightening, but the spiritual ones are even worse. Man is starting to play God. We are creating new life forms that God never originally intended.
The original sin of Adam and Eve is sometimes missed as being about eating fruit. The temptation was really to become like God. The serpent said to them, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3:5. The disobedience was one thing, but the level of human ambition to be like God was a serious act of high treason. Cloning and genetic engineering is the latest demonstration of man elevating himself to the level of God. It may just be the ultimate example of human arrogance. Maybe we can’t stop it, but one day God will, and I don’t want to be party to it. He will not share His glory with any man.