GM technology permits companies to ensure that everything we eat is owned by them…
I really enjoy featuring guests at Reaching Beyond Now. Why? Turns out, you, the readers of this blog love it (thanks for writing me notes and letters telling me so)! Keeping up with current events and the election topics, Lauren Ampolos is back today to candidly share her thoughts on GMOs. Her thoughts aren’t wild ideas, opinions or beliefs, but a fired-up (and rightfully so) glimpse of how the few are attempting to make a “while you were sleeping” type decision that may elicit irreversible affects on the many.
Let’s Just Call Bullshit Now
After researching who all of you readers are (so I can best understand who I’m writing to and what you all like to see), it appears that you live all over the world, not only range in ages from about 20-80, but show a common interest in farming, science, spirituality, gardening, lifestyle design, integrative medicine and progressive health, social psychology, free-thinking, compassion, social consciousness, social ecology, improving research integrity and lastly- calling bullshit on monopolizing, propagandizing human-rights thieves. Since you all share that last commendable attribute, we’ve got a great post for you today- but first, an excerpt from best-selling author, activist and humanitarian, John Robbins:
The world has a surplus of food, but still people go hungry. They go hungry because they cannot afford to buy it. They cannot afford to buy it because the sources of wealth and the means of production have been captured and in some cases monopolized by landowners and corporations. The purpose of the biotech industry is to capture and monopolize the sources of wealth and the means of production …
GM technology permits companies to ensure that everything we eat is owned by them. They can patent the seeds and the processes which give rise to them. They can make sure that crops can’t be grown without their patented chemicals. They can prevent seeds from reproducing themselves. By buying up competing seed companies and closing them down, they can capture the food market, the biggest and most diverse market of all.
No one in her right mind would welcome this, so the corporations must persuade us to focus on something else … We are told that … by refusing to eat GM products, we are threatening the developing world with starvation, an argument that is, shall we say, imaginative …
- John Robbins, Huffington Post contribution
GMOs… don’t know what they are? You will now. KNOW what they are and want to take Lauren’s GMO challenge? Get started now here.
Now, please welcome Lauren!
I T N E V E R C E A S E S T O A M A Z E M E that so many people still don’t know what genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are, considering all of the controversy AND the fact that they unfortunately dominate our current food system. Case in point: I was at the grocery store the other night and asked if they carried non-GMO tortilla chips… the grocer (yes, the guy that works at the grocery store, selling the food) had no idea what I was talking about. I was shocked! How could a man, working in a grocery store not know that the majority of the food (estimated to be 70% in your typical, mainstream grocery store) in his store contained these lab-manufactured products, and worse, not even know what they are? I was horrified!
So, let’s answer the question at hand… What are GMOs? GMOs are organisms which are created in a lab in an attempt to (supposedly) increase desirable characteristics of crops, such as a built-in tolerance to herbicides/pesticides (allowing for more spraying), herbicides/pesticides in the DNA of the plant (to kill the natural things that eat the produce), to withstand drought, cold weather and other natural issues that could affect crop yield. Some GMOs even contain human DNA (seriously). One of the alleged benefits of GMO use is that they can help create food security (which is seemingly important during a time where the world is worried about exponential population growth and how our beautiful Earth is going to support us all). Yet, I have to wonder, is it really a good idea for us to be messing around with Mother Nature in this capacity? What do we actually know about the safety of GMOs?
The answer is: not much. To date, there are NO studies that demonstrate GMO safety for humans. That means when you eat GMO food, you are literally part of a huge and extremely unethical science experiment… Instead of scientists actually collecting data on the safety of these organisms, they are just collecting dollars. How you ask? Well, because these seeds are bio-engineered in a lab, the seeds are patentable… people literally own specific types of seeds and have sued farmers who use these seeds, regardless of whether or not the use was intentional or desired. Think about it (you learned this in elementary school!): plants have a really special way of working to survive… they can’t walk around, find a mate and breed, so they were designed to disseminate via nature (e.g. wind, other animals fur or animal droppings, et cetera). So, naturally, the seeds spread. When the owners of the seeds test other’s products and recognize their seeds are growing on another farm, they can take legal action against said farm. This discourages others from growing similar types of produce (why would you grow organic corn next to a GMO farmer who will just sue you when their crop migrates over to your farm and ruins your produce?), which decreases bio-diversity (necessary to maintain healthy crops – think about what would happen if we all inbred instead of branched out genetically!), and competition (which is necessary to maintain healthy capitalism). Basically, if you own the patent to a seed (and, really, is it ethical to patent a seed?!?), you can manipulate the market.
On top of the fact that research has yet to prove GMO safety in humans and that it is a profit-driven monster, there is also a plethora of research bottom-lining them dangerous to the environment, animals, and humans. To list just a few issues, GMOs are suspected to cause food allergies, decreased fertility, birth complications (e.g. low birth weight, potential developmental disorders – more research needs to be conducted), liver and kidney damage (think about it: GMOs were designed to kill living things… sure, you are bigger than a bug, so it will take more to kill you, but are you not a living thing? Will eating poison in small amounts not affect you?), potentially permanently alter gut flora (important for nutrient absorption, the immune system, mental health, obesity, to name a few), antibiotic resistance, super viruses, herbicide-resistant weeds, an adversely affected ecosystem (think: the insects and animals that keep the ecosystem balanced are dying from GMOs), insecticide-resistant bugs (scary!), contaminated organic food (really nothing is safe… organic food, despite the fact that a major criteria is that it is non-GMO, is estimated to be at about 3% GMO because of contaminated farms). These are just some of the issues.
Because of the controversy, and the fact that more and more people are learning about GMOs, there is a big push to label GMOs in various states. The proposed legislation varies from state to state (if it’s even being proposed; research your state to find out more – see link below). Unfortunately, one of the biggest GMO companies out there, Monsanto (which, surprise, surprise, also owns the herbicide/insecticide used in the bioengineering and thus, spraying of these crops) is responsible for 87% of the GMO market. What this means is that they have a TON of money to spend on protecting their (literal) cash crops. For example, in Vermont and Connecticut, where the majority (90% in both states!) of its residents are in support of GMO labeling, Monsanto threatened to sue the state if this measure made it onto the ballot… guess what happened? The state caved and GMO labeling is currently on hold. Not only does Monsanto have the money to legally threaten entire states, high-ranking federal government members also have close ties with Monsanto. In order to achieve labeling, there is a tough battle ahead and the people must remain united and committed to the issue.
While labeling legislation is clearly the first necessary (and huge!) step in educating people about GMOs, I fear it’s not enough. Food will still be contaminated with GMOs. Farmers are also forced to change farming strategies in order to reduce the effects of contamination. Farmers dedicated to producing organic crops, are required to plant their seeds later than normal, which ironically (considering GMOs are supposed to stop world hunger) results in a smaller yield of organic crop. Additionally, dependent on the legislation, who will be required to label? For example, will you know if a plate you order when dining out contains Agent Orange corn, or Human DNA rice? Will restaurants, coffee shops, and school cafeterias be required to label along with food manufacturers?
Only time will tell how the government decides to handle GMOs. In the meantime, there is plenty that YOU can do to improve this problematic situation.
1) Be sure to buy local and organic, especially with these.
2) Support legislation in your state. Get involved. Sign petitions.
3) Educate others. Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, strangers. Let them know what GMOs are (toxic) and help them to make better choices.
4) Ask for what you want. At the grocery store they always ask you if you’ve found everything – tell them if you’d like to see more or less of something on the shelves. When you order at a restaurant, ask where they get their food (this can be a great starting point for educating restaurant workers, like servers, as well). Contact producers of your favorite foods and supplements (they all have contact information on their containers – YOU are the consumer, you shape the product with requests and purchases).
5) Don’t give up. There will always be minor setbacks and disappointments. Think about all of the things we didn’t know 5, 10 and 50 years ago… beliefs change; standards change. Do your best to make this information a part of mainstream knowledge, and know that eventually health, balance and well-being will prevail.
Your Vote Counts… At Least On A State Level
On November 6, 2012 Californians will vote on prop 37. If passed, California will be required to label all GMO-containing foods. The “vote no” on 37 commercials that imply family farms will be jeopardized is appalling- all 37 does is strip Californians of their right to know what’s in their food supply chain. Over 50 countries worldwide currently require GMO labeling.
Does all this GMO talk make you want to start growing your own food? Check out the Seed Savers Exchange Here- they’re (a non-profit) dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom and open-pollinated seeds (No GMOs of course).