Sunday, January 30, 2011

My thoughts on GMOs

Recently, the USDA announced it would fully deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa.  This was really the first crop that the USDA even suggested some kind of "partial-deregulation," but coming at little surprise, the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, sided with big business.  Fully deregulating this crop, essentially gives Monsanto an unlocked and open door to continue walking all over the rights of American farmers.  Apparently Vilsack did show some lame support for non-GE (genetically engineered) farmers, and people that don't want GE food by saying that the USDA would promote research into preventing contamination from GE to organic or conventionally grown alfalfa.  Paraphrased, this is basically saying that they'll watch the arsonist light your house on fire, but they'll call the fire department and hope that they can get there in time to put out the fire and save anything.  Actually, I should probably take the hope part out, because clearly they don't care about the small farmer and their livelihood.  Monsanto's other GE crops have already shown extreme contamination levels all over the nation, and they continue to strong-arm the American people into keeping quite or lose everything.  Following are just a couple links that describe the struggles farmers face against big business:

Monsanto vs. Percy Schmeiser - I know he's Canadian, but he was also sued by Monsanto USA and it's still a good example of what American farmers have to deal with.  This deals with GE contamination.

Monsanto vs. Nelson Farm - Regarding the saving of seeds and the hardship that a big corporation like Monsanto can put on farmers with essentially no evidence.

While there are dozens if not hundreds more out there, these couple will give a general overall idea as to what farmers have to face.

Now, just to further clarify my thoughts.

1. I'm for business.  If a company like Monsanto chooses to genetically engineer a seed and sell it, that's their business.  However, if it infringes on the rights of other people who do not want that seed, then that's where I have a problem.  I once heard, "you're right to swing your fist ends, where my nose begins," and I think that is very appropriate for this.  The government stands to protect the constitution and uphold it in protection of it's citizens, not the rights of big business vs. citizens.

2. At this point, I'm more pissed at the USDA for not taking a stand and protecting farmers and the vast and outrageous contamination that has already occurred with other GMO crops.  Clearly, alfalfa will be different of course.

3. With all GMO crops, the USDA has said that they are no different than conventionally grown crops.  Yet, clearly they are different because the Patent office says so.

4. I used to be ignorant to what was specifically genetically engineered.  I used to think that the genes of lets say corn variety #1 was mixed with corn variety #2 to produce more yield or a better tolerance to cold or something.  Shockingly though I realized that in effect, a pesticide is genetically shoved into the crops genetic make up so that the new crop will be resistant to said pesticide.  Now, they are also taking genes from cold water fish and inserting them into tomatoes to produce more frost resistant tomatoes.  I don't understand why consumers are willing to stand by and let their food be turned into a science experiment like this.  There are no long term studies on the health effect these are causing.  I don't want to eat a fish tomato, and even worse, a pesticide laden vegetable that's in EVERYTHING (corn).  Also, keep in mind that these pesticide resistant crops are significantly increasing the amount of pesticide that is used.  Not only is this further contaminating everything in our environment, but it's also accumulating into a higher percentage in that crop being sprayed.  Resistant means the pesticide doesn't kill it, not that it doesn't leach into it.

5. This stuff is everywhere!  Even if you buy organic corn or soybeans, or whatever, all that GE stuff is still showing up in all the processed food that is out there.  You've heard of the whole high fructose corn syrup issue I'm sure.  Note a big word in that...corn.  Let's guess how much of the corn that goes into that is probably GMO corn.  Here's something from the USDA that might help with that guess.

I'm not a farmer, nor do I have any plans in the future of commercially producing any of these crops, but at some point we will be getting a cow or two for milk and meat, amongst other animals that graze.  I of course want them feeding organically, especially if we'll be consuming milk and meat from them.  Most likely, part of their diet will be alfalfa which I either plant or that just happens to naturally germinate on the land.  Right now, in 2011 my future rights as an American and my "pursuit of happiness" are being eroded away, and unless something is done, we will no longer have the right to choose.  Nor will we have the right to fight back.

I encourage everyone to take a stand.  I'm not saying go get a picket line or write an angry blog, but instead do something very simple.  Vote with you dollar.  Buy local, from a farmer you can talk to if you can.  A farmer you know stands for good, wholesome, traditionally grown food.  If you can't do that.  Buy organic, or  any choice that is fighting against genetically engineered food.  If not for your own health right now, spend the little extra to give your children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren a chance for choice in the future.

Aaaand now I'm spent. Ha!  I hope this was at least a little informative or enlightening.  If anything it gave me a chance to let people know where I stand.  Hopefully this has gotten at least one person to question their buying, or at least I hope it makes someone think.

Feel free to comment your thoughts, or if you think I'm off base on something.  I'm definitely open to some good conversation about this topic.  I love a good hardy conversation!

Thanks for reading!

P.S.  Strangely enough, after writing this, my wife and I watched The Future of Food.  Basically, it says everything I said here, but better! :-)  If you haven't already watched it, do it.  It'll be a very worthwhile 88 minutes.  Trust me.

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