GMOs and You

Originally posted on December 6, 2014

Part of our assignment for this week was to research and write about GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  Hooo boy!   This is an easy one for me! ;)  But not everybody knows what a GMO is, or why they should care, so I'll give you a quick and easy tutorial, and then let you know exactly how I feel about them.

Genetically modified soya beans were first introduced by Monsanto in 1996 (remember that!), followed by corn, cotton, and sugar beets and other crop seeds.  These genetically modified seeds now contain chemical additives that make them resistant to Monsanto pesticides and herbicides.  They call them "Round-Up Ready", because their herbicide product is called Round-Up.  These new seeds, while intended to make "super crops" resistant to pests, weeds, and the sprays farmers need to use to fight them, are actually doing quite the opposite.  Statistically, there is no more yield than "traditional" crops, and the new culture of "mono-cropping" (planting only one crop seed over and over year after year) has depleted soil quality, and polluted ground water, among other things.  

The pesticides are engineered so that when an insect starts to eat the plant, the chemicals will then cause the insect's stomach to explode.  Let's break down the word.  Pest <- bug icide <- to kill.  Herb <- plant icide <- to kill.  They had to make their seeds resistant to the herbicides, because well d'uh, their seeds are plants and they can't kill their plants.  

The really horrible thing about these chemicals that We Are Now Eating, is that they were not tested before being released.  We, the people of the world (well...primarily North America, most other thinking civilised countries have banned them or are in the process) are a giant science experiment gone horribly wrong.  Remember that bug that ate the plant and it's stomach exploded?  WE'RE EATING THE SAME PLANT!  This could very well be the cause of so much of the increase in autoimmune diseases and lifestyle diseases since the end of the 1990s.  Remember, GMOs did not exist in the public marketplace until 1996.  If you were a kid in the 80s or before, you did not grow up on this crap, but Your Kids most certainly are.  So, even if you're feeding your kids "the same stuff" you ate as a kid, it's not the same.  It's all GMO, more highly processed, and more full of chemicals than anything ever was when you were in school.

If you were a kid in the 80s, the pop/soda you drank didn't contain GMO high fructose corn syrup, or GMO beet sugar.  It contained sugar, from sugar cane.  Your breakfast cereal didn't contain GMO corn in the flakes, the milk you poured over it wasn't from a CAFO cow that was fed biologically inappropriate feed made from GMO corn and soya.  In such a short time, things Are Not The Same.  And we really don't know the extent of the damage it is doing to us.  

Last year in June a friend of mine posted this video on my Facebook page and asked me for my opinion, because I am rather outspoken about my dislike of Monsanto and other Big Ag companies that are poisoning our planet.  Go ahead and watch it, I'll's 28 minutes long, the link also has the transcript if reading is faster than watching.

Here is my response to my friend's query:

First, in order for me to believe in a conspiracy theory, I would have to believe there is a conspiracy. Which I don't. So we'll move on to other points ;)

Second, I am not, as I have stated before, anti-science, nor even anti-biotechnology. I am however, anti-eating of GMO crops that may or may not be healthy for me and my family and pets to eat. I would prefer that they be labeled so that I can make a choice when shopping. As it stands now, the only way I can avoid GMO foods is to buy organic, and I can't always afford that, so inevitably, I end up eating GMO foods when I don't want to. If we would legally define GMO, and label the foods, it would give us a choice. Organic farmers have to adhere to all sorts of legislation in order to have that label. Make it the same for GMOs. Level the playing field.

Third, the use of GMO crops has now reached a point that there are herbicide resistant weeds, and pesticide resistant bugs, so what do the farmers do? They spray more herbicides and pesticides. Up to 48% of farmers use these sprays improperly, (it's even on the Monsanto website, I'm not conspiring here, I'm stating a fact), and why are they doing this? Because the GMO crops they've planted are no longer doing what they're supposed to. Sure, Monsanto says they're working on new seeds, which will just have more and "better" pesticides in them, and be more herbicide resistant. Where does it stop?

I honestly believe that their scientists' talents could be better used to figure out how to grow (nutritious) foods in drought ridden countries (I wouldn't include cereal grains under the label of nutritious, they're just filler), without having to resort to much pesticides or herbicides. The food problem isn't that there is a lack of it, the problem is access to it. It doesn't matter how much GMO corn and soy we grow here in North America. People in Africa need food. Grow the food there. Statistics vary, but as much as up to 40% of food grown in North America just goes to waste. Either because it's not "pretty enough" to put on grocery shelves, or consumers over-buy and just throw out, or it doesn't get to consumers fast enough, and it rots. So again, it doesn't matter how much we grow here, we just waste it anyway.

The speaker mentioned that people have vitamin deficiencies, so Monsanto has developed vitamin enriched rice. But does that solve the problem of the deficiency really? WHY are they vitamin deficient in the first place? Figure that out, and they probably wouldn't need the enriched grains, could be something else they need. I was deficient in every vitamin and mineral that can be tested for, and then found out I have Celiac disease. No amount of food enrichment or mega doses of vitamins would have helped me, the solution was to not eat gluten, so the damage to my intestines could heal and I could actually absorb nutrients from foods.

Fourth, I believe that the Big Ag practice of mono-crops is harmful to the farmers and environment due to continued soil depletion. Soil depletion also eventually reduces the yield and nutritive value of the crops, something Monsanto says they are trying solve with their GMO seeds. It's a vicious circle. Even a return to traditional farming where one field is left fallow for a season, and the same crops are not planted in the fields year after year would help this. But factory farms are contracted to grow corn, or soya, or canola or whatever, and again the same crop year after year and so on and so forth. This isn't working any better than the herbicides and pesticides are.

The science could be used for so much good. Currently, I don't believe it is.

That's my thoughts on GMOs.  Later I will have some more information on just how much of our farmable land in Canada is being used for GMO crops and CAFOs, and how this could change to go back to good old fashioned sustainable farming, and still be able to feed all of us.