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If you’ve visited The Farmer’s Lamp before, you know where we stand on the GMO issue. But why do we feel this way?
One of the first things I say when I’m asked to speak about the GMO issue is this: “I don’t care if everyone agrees with me or not. I’m not here to convince you to see things my way. Arguing and controversy are not the solution and is not what I’m about. I’m here to offer you the information. To give you the resources you need to do your investigation and make your own decision. If I want to be able to make my decision and live with the consequences of it, then I must want the same thing for you. In our corporate ran country, truth is often shrouded in smoke and mirrors. The goal for me is to help you remove those or at least see past them so your decision is not based solely on corporate GMO propaganda.”
I offer that same thought to you. The first thing we should talk about is exactly what a GMO is and is NOT. Genetically modified organisms are often called genetically engineered organisms which I believe is a more accurate name for them. They are NOT hybrids.
What’s the difference in a hybrid and a GMO?
A hybrid is the crossing of two parent plants of the same kind to produce a desired result. This is achieved by gardeners cross-pollinating two pure parent lines with the desired traits. The plant breeders pollinate them by hand under controlled conditions, like row covers.
This process occurs in nature with open pollinated plants of the same kind. If they are planted too close together, cross-pollination occurs creating a hybrid. I did this with watermelons one year, quite on accident. The result was delicious, but not reliably reproducible.
GMOs are created by scientists in a lab using totally technical processes like gene splicing. In the lab, the genetic material of one species is injected into the DNA of an unrelated species. Species which would never cross in nature are combined.
One example is the combination of a tomato, a fish, and glyphosate (Roundup). Yep, they’ve done that. It’s supposed to produce a tomato that is resistant to freezing and bugs.
These two processes cannot be compared. I guess it’s often done out of believing the GMO propaganda. Sometimes it’s a tool used to keep the public focus in another direction instead of on the real questions.
When someone says the general public is too stupid to understand plant breeding and the processes involved, I cannot help but be offended. Any gardener can tell you the difference in a hybrid and an heirloom. Any gardener can tell you that a fish and a tomato won’t cross pollinate.
Can GMOs save the world?
No. Not according to the Environmental Working Group and the Organic Consumers Association. Both state “Biotech companies and proponents of conventional, industrial agriculture have touted genetically engineered crops as the key to feeding a more populous, wealthier world, but recent studies show that this promise has fallen flat.”* These reports also state crops raised traditionally with the focus on soil improvement and decrease waste has shown increased yields in impoverished countries where GMOs could not. They call for a focus on these traditional farming methods instead of biotech experiments.
In fact, the EWG states in their report: “Seed companies’ investment in improving the yields of GMOs in already high-yielding areas does little to improve food security; it mainly helps line the pockets of seed and chemical companies and producers of corn ethanol. There is a way out of this mess that will produce enough food for the world’s burgeoning population with minimal impact on our environment. In combination, smarter use of fertilizers, a dramatic shift in biofuels policy, a significant reduction in food waste and a better diet could largely address the need for more calories in the future. The world’s resources would be better spent focusing on strategies to actually increase food supplies and access to basic resources for the poor small farmers who need it most.”*
Are herbicides and pesticides a danger?
According to the World Health Organization and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) they are. The WHO has listed glyphosate (the herbicide GMOs are bred with) as “a probable cause of cancer in humans.”* The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued its full report in March of this year.*
No person would willingly drink a glass of water with these poisons in them. Common sense tells us they are dangerous. While all of the effects of herbicides and pesticides on humans may not be clear, it is clear they are deadly.
One thing GMOs have accomplished is the increased use of pesticides and herbicides. This has led to “super weeds” and “super bugs”. As these adapt to the herbicides and pesticides, farmers are required to use higher doses. These higher doses lead to more resistance which leads to more chemical use…. You see where this circle goes.
The idea that the dangerous properties of GMO food do not carry over into its fruit is ludicrous. That’s like saying spraying your crops with herbicides doesn’t contaminate the resulting fruit. With many companies testing their products for glyphosate, it’s been proven it’s in the food supply.
The myth of no studies
You read it in article after article. “There just haven’t been enough studies.” You’ll also read scientists say there is no risk to humans from GMOs. Is this true?
There have been multiple studies conducted in several countries. The few studies done here in the U.S.A. seem to have been conducted by scientists who work for the biotech firms. The studies from other countries have been ignored, banned, or called out as a fraud.
In light of these studies and from the questionable practices of U.S. based biotech companies, several more countries have banned them this year. They join over 63 other countries who have bans and/or labeling laws. Russia, France, Scotland, Latvia, Germany, and Greece are the most recent countries to enact bans on GMOs.* In an open letter to the Scottish Minister, Richard Lochhead, 30 scientists and specialists have voiced their support for the Scottish ban on the cultivation of GMOs in Scotland.*
So the question is, why are so many countries banning GMO’s and we can’t have labeling laws? Over $65 million has been spent by the federal government and biotech industries to keep states from enacting labeling laws and bans. These are labeling laws voted on and passed by the citizens of the states.*
Why slander public personalities for coming out with their stand against GMOs the way they did Dr. Oz. He was subjected to multiple slanderous attacks. Jane Goodall, world renowned British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, took a stand against GMOS and she was subjected to public attacks as well.*
Does the public not have a right to know? Even people who stand for GMOs are concerned by the fight to prevent the public’s right to know.
Do farmers make more profit from GMO crops?
More and more farmers are turning away from GMO seeds. Most of those forsaking the GMO seeds have taken hits because of the drastically falling price of genetically modified crops like corn, soybean, and wheat. Some have stated the rising cost of yearly seed purchasing and increased herbicide and pesticide use as the initiating factor in returning to a Non-Gmo seed. They can also save their own seeds and not be required to use as much pesticide and herbicide. As the American public demands answers and Non-Gmo foods, the number of farmers leaving the GMO crops will continue to rise.*
So exactly what crops are GMOs? **indicates a crop not grown in the USA at the time this article was written
Squash – Crook and Straight Neck
Salmon (awaiting approval)
Keep in mind, any food made using these crops is a GMO product. We don’t eat processed foods. One reason is because of all the “hidden” ingredients and preservatives. You can read more about removing GMOs from your diet, how to buy organic, and more on The Farmer’s Lamp under the Non-GMO, Organic Living tab.
I’ve been verbally assaulted by many well-meaning people, although misinformed people, who insist there is no GMO wheat crop grown or grown for human consumption in the U.S. I have three points to make on this issue:
Millions of pounds of U.S. wheat have been rejected by other countries because they were supposed to be non-GMO yet they were contaminated with GMO wheat. Now I’m supposed to believe this only happens to wheat being sent to other countries?
Crop contamination by cross-pollination of non-GMO crops by GMO crops is a problem many organic farmers are facing here in the U.S. Those who want to sell their crops as non-GMO certified or as certified organic suffer loss from this contamination. They have lost entire crops and the money they would have earned from those crops. They also lose out because they have to repurchase seeds which they could have saved from their crops.
The main reason I’m in disagreement with this statement is common sense. We are what our animals eat. If we eat animals which are fed GMO crops, then we certainly are eating GMOs. We aren’t allowed to know the true effects of GMOs on a cellular level so there is no way to ascertain the real effects on the animals or those who consume them.
Now you know me, I’m not a conspiracy theorist at all. This doesn’t mean I don’t face the truth of the contamination of our food supply and our government’s lack of concern for us as people. So I’m sorry, when they say they don’t allow GMO wheat into our food supply, I just simply don’t believe them.
Avoiding GMO seeds in you home garden
I heard a farmer friend of mine tell someone not to worry about getting GMO seeds from the local farm supply. He said they are only sold to large ag farmers, not in seed packets or bags you get locally. Sadly, he was wrong.
As you see on the list of GMO foods above, many are common home garden plants. Even if, by some chance, the seeds themselves weren’t originally genetically engineered the likely hood of their cross-contamination can’t be measured. Many crops are cross-contaminated by nearby GMO crops.
The best any home gardener can do to avoid GMO seeds is to buy from a company they trust. One who sells Non-GMO seeds and regularly tests their crops for cross-contamination. In “Is Your Food Really Organic” we share a list of the companies we use for our seeds when we have to purchase. You can also find other articles on this subject on TFL.
No matter where you stand, there are issues which must be addressed
1) Is it right for biotech corporations to own all the seeds?
As of this writing, Monsanto has taken over 400 farmers to court. One reason is because they saved seeds from their GMO crops. The other, more concerning reason, is because a non-gmo crop was cross-contaminated by a nearby GMO crop.*
What difference does that make you ask? The farmer didn’t contaminate his own field. No, but the farmer saved his seeds. Monsanto says he’s stealing from them by saving the seeds. The farmer loses his crop value because it’s been contaminated and can’t be sold as a Non-Gmo crop. He incurs legal fees and in most of these cases, his seeds are confiscated. He has to buy more seeds next year. Most of these farmers are fined.
GMO seeds are being designed to not be reproducible. It’s illegal for any farmer to save seeds from a GMO crop. The seeds are owned by the biotech company who created them. Sterile seeds is another way of ensuring new seeds have to be purchased every year. No more saving seeds for planting next year’s crop.
Even as a small home gardener, if your crops become contaminated by neighboring GMO crops, you are not allowed to save any seeds. Of course, we won’t usually know they’re cross-contaminated, but laws are in place for possession of your crops and seeds to be taken, if they choose.
2) Why not let the public know what’s in their food supply?
We’ve really already talked about this some. Biotech companies have already pumped billions of dollars into fighting state labeling laws, propaganda, and news blackouts. Considering all the countries who have banned them just this year alone, have you heard about it on the “public” news?*
In the month of October, it was reported by RT that two-thirds of EU states have rejected GMO crops and have filed cultivation opt-out requests. Here in the USA, states have to fight federal government to enact labeling laws their citizens voted to pass. They are threatened with loss of federal funding and other sanctions.*
3) Is the destruction of whole ecosystems survivable?
No. GMO crops are engineered with pesticides to cause the intestines of pests to explode. Are we to believe it can discriminate between a good bug, like a bee, and a bad bug, like a weevil?
The Monarch butterfly and the honey bee are responsible for an estimated 75% of crop pollination. They are both disappearing at an alarming rate. When one eco-system is disrupted, this directly affects another, which directly affects another…. The symbiotic relationship of eco-systems is a delicate balance. It’s costly to us all when it’s destroyed.
4) Is our health too high a price?
Yes. My family has experienced real, measurable changes in our health since we removed GMOs from our diets. We’ve had over 10 disorders and diseases leave our bodies since we removed GMOs from our diet. We look and feel better than we have in 20 years. This is the only change we made to our lifestyle, so we know the results come from their removal.
Since the introduction of GMO crops into the mainstream American diet in 1994, we’ve experienced a breakdown of our DNA at an alarming rate. This has led to an epidemic increase in disease and birth defects. It is said the children of this day are the first who will not outlive their parents.
Can we ignore the connection between our food supply and our health? We are what we eat. Even deeper than this is we are what the plants and animals we eat eat. Our cells, our organs, our very life blood run on what we eat.
The unanswered questions are too numerous to be ignored, even if you aren’t opposed to GMOs. How can we not consider the evidence coming from EU countries and their scientific studies? Dare we fall under the spell of PR from biotech and its supporters, or dare we seek the answers to the questions they refuse to openly, honestly answer?
We’ve made the decision to stand against GMOs in our home and on our farm. Forcing someone else to think as we do or to believe as we do is not my goal. I only offer the information for each person to make their own informed decision.
I stand firmly in my belief “No one should be allowed to tell another person what to think, what is best for them, what they have to buy, or what decision they have to make. Every individual should be allowed to make their own decision based on facts and truth, not on propaganda.”
I hope you find the answers you’re looking for and feel confident in the decision you make.
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack