GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms” are discussed constantly on the internet.
Every day we hear of the ongoing struggle between health activists and big biotech concerning GMO production and contamination of our food supply, and depending on which source you listen to, GMOs are either touted as a boogeyman or a life saver that can heal the planet.
Personally, I’ve only begun to learn about them in the last few years and I’ve kept up to date with news concerning them as much as anyone else, but I’ve never quite known about them or why they’re discussed in such an unfavorable light on most alternative news or health-related blog sites.
It’s easy to jump on the anti-GMO bandwagon and protest Monsanto and the spread of big biotech’s products, but if we don’t know much of anything about them then we can’t actually understand their malevolence or why, in my opinion, our society needs to purge them completely from our food supply.
Amidst researching this subject, I learned that even if we were to purge every last GMO from our food supply tomorrow, the genes inserted into the DNA of otherwise natural crops could live on in our bodies for decades.
Beyond any desire to be an activist in the face of another big corporation forcing their genetic experiments onto the public, I can say from researching the subject I’m about to present that GMOs are a huge threat to our survival and sustainability as a species.
In my honest opinion, they seem designed to severely weaken the public with genetic experimentation and gene splicing. The good news is that if you’re reading this from almost any country other than the United States, chances are you don’t have to worry about your food being contaminated with GMOs.
This is because myriad countries around the world have outright banned use of GMOs in their food supply, but the United States government remains in bed with corporate interests who are responsible for the massive amount of it in ours.
We’ll get into all of this and more a bit later on, but for now I’ll formally “introduce” GMOs to those of you who are in the dark about just what they are.
As I mentioned above, GMO stands for “genetically modified organism”. Summarizing from what I’ve read on the subject, the DNA of an otherwise natural crop, such as corn, can be altered to include the addition of a foreign gene, which is a process that can’t be duplicated through the natural crossbreeding techniques used for so long.
One of the main aims in producing a genetically modified crop seems to be to make it resistant to herbicide, and the DNA of some crops have been manipulated with a certain gene that acts as a pesticide.
Because of this, pesticide use on GMO crops has significantly grown since their widespread introduction.
I’ll leave the Non-GMO Project to explain genetically modified organisms and their detrimental effect on our society a bit more.
“GMOs, or ‘genetically modified organisms,’ are plants or animals that have beengenetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.” (1)
According to the Non-GMO Project, multiple countries have already banned GMO contamination in their food supply while the United States continues to serve their corporate masters.
“Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.
In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.” (1)
When I first heard about GMOs, I’ll admit to naively assuming the products that contain them were already labeled. With such a big change to the very structure of the food I’m eating, it only made sense to me that the products that were manipulated so would have a label or even a mention on them.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only are products containing GMOs not labeled, but that corporations advocating them actually fight rigorously to stop such labeling. If the bioengineered product is supposedly so safe, why aren’t they comfortable with having products containing it labeled?
I notice that safe organic products are always labeled, because it’s good PR.
A safe product containing safe genetically modified ingredients that could actually help the planet would be labeled rigorously, I’d imagine, because to speak from a “business” point of view, it could drive up sales. The only conclusion I can reach is that Monsanto and the big food companies using GMOs know the product is unsafe and see labeling as negative PR.
It wouldn’t be negative if the product was safe!
So if GMOs are as bad as everyone says, why aren’t people in the United States who are being fed them the most (it’s in about 80% of all processed foods here) aware? According to the Non-GMO Project, a large percentage of us are aware and reject this unnatural addition to our food.
“Polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs (a 2012 Mellman Group poll found that 91% of American consumers wanted GMOs labeled). And, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified.” (1)
The referenced Non-GMO Project FAQ also outlines some of the environmental damage caused by this genetic modification and mass production of crops.
“Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicidetolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.” (1)
What about the farmers whose crops could potentially be contaminated with GMOs from other fields because of cross-pollination, or who could be unable to make money because of the patent and sale of GMO crops by big biotech? The Non-GMO Project explains.
“Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtainpatents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOsnowhave the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.” (1)
In my opinion, this is about the lowest big biotech can go in ousting competition in the form of farmers growing natural, healthy crops. To contaminate a farmer’s field with unnatural, genetically modified crops and subsequently sue and bankrupt them to get rid of competition is a despicable thing to do to a fellow human being and to the planet.
Continued in part 2 next week.
(1)- The Non-GMO Project: “GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions” at: