First of all, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year! 2012 is still in its infancy but I hope that everyone has made big plans for the new year. My plans for this year will focus primarily on developing this website to meet your needs. If you have any topics, ideas or suggestions that you would like for me to address, send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
In today’s Did You Know? post, I want to take a look at GMOs. For those who aren’t aware, GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. GMOs can be animals or plants, but we’ll focus primarily on plants in this article. The most well-known example of GMOs is Roundup Ready corn that is produced by Monsanto. Monsanto touts this genetically modified corn as more environmentally friendly and that it fits into the vision of sustainable agriculture. The conventional farmer sees it as an added bonus that he can plant this modified seed and then spray the whole field, corn and all, with Roundup to kill any competing weeds. It doesn’t stop at corn though; Monsanto prides itself on producing Roundup Ready alfalfa, canola, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets and wheat. And I don’t mean to come down on the small farmer; in all likelihood they are hanging onto solvency by a thread and these newfangled seeds are promoted with the zeal of a snake-oil salesman back in the day. And if all of the local universities are singing its praises (because their studies are heavily funded by companies like Monsanto), then who is the farmer to argue that it isn’t the way to go?
There are many problems with genetically modified plants. I’ll name just a few to whet your appetite (pun intended):
- By spraying vast amounts of Roundup year after year, the farmer is killing any soil fertility that remained in the soil. Roundup’s active ingredient is glyphosate and it is a salt. Ask any gardener in a coastal area how difficult it is to grow in salty soil.
- There are now what are called “superweeds” that have resulted two-fold from the GMOs. Through natural selection, the few weeds that survived the sprayings have mutated and become resistant to Roundup. Also, pollen from the genetically modified crops spreads by wind for miles and miles and close relatives of these plants now have Roundup resistant genes as part of their gene pool.
- The corn that we ingest from these GMOs has been doused with Roundup at least twice in its lifetime and now due to Roundup resistance, farmers are having to spray a concoction of 2,4-D and dicamba in addition to the Roundup to control the superweeds. Here’s a link for more info, straight from Monsanto’s website.
- There are a growing number of studies that link GMOs with human health decline. Check out this site for more information. It is by Jeffrey Smith, probably the world’s foremost expert on GMOs. It is truly scary stuff so be prepared to be shocked.
- Have you wondered why people are becoming more and more allergic to things that were common just twenty years ago? Peanuts, wheat, milk – most of know at least one person that has allergies to these items. It is my personal belief that GMOs have contributed to the problem.
- Farmers are being sued by Monsanto when Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops cross pollinate with the farmers’ crops. In the famous case of Percy Schmeiser in Canada, Mr. Schmeiser was finally victorious against Monsanto but it was only after 11 years of legal wrangling. What small farmer that is barely hanging on can afford to fight a mammoth like Monsanto? We all owe Mr. Schmeiser a thank you for fighting against the intimidation of Monsanto. Read more of his story here.
- We are losing genetic diversity. Not only are we losing genetic diversity by mono-cropping most of our large farm acreage, but now we are losing the diversity by having these franken-crops cross with naturally occurring species. They say that history repeats itself…I’m instantly reminded of the Irish Potato Famine where 1 million people died from starvation.
- Download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide that is produced by Jeffrey Smith. Commit to reducing your consumption of GMOs. You’ll be amazed at how many products contain them.
- Grow your own food. This can consist of a vegetable garden, fruit trees, fruit or nut-producing shrubs, and herbs. Anything that you produce for yourself is already going to meet your standard of quality.
- Buy organic when you can. The term organic has been hijacked by corporate greedsters too but at least it’s better than eating Roundup drenched corn. Read about the hijacking here.
- Shop at your local farmers’ markets and get to know who is producing your food. It’s very rewarding to know how and where your food is produced. If the grower is worth his salt, he’ll let you visit the farm to see things for yourself.
I hope that I haven’t depressed you too much today. It is completely overwhelming when you take the time to think about where your food comes from and how completely removed we are from the process. Check this link out for a very well written synopsis of why growing your own food is important. Take baby steps and do your best to avoid the GMOs when you can. In full disclosure, I still drink Mountain Dew, even though the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup (you don’t reckon that’s been genetically modified do ya?) But I also buy 90% of our meat from two local vendors, I grew and canned a ton of veggies last summer, I make most of our own bread and I try my darndest to do the best that I can by my family. And that’s what it boils down to…doing your best. I’d love to know what steps you have taken to reduce your GMO consumption. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s to non-GMOs!