You hear about it on the news. You know it is controversial. You feel strongly that it is bad… but do you really know why? And do you know who the Monsanto Company is? I didn’t for years. I chose products that were labelled “non-GMO” but I didn’t really know what it meant and I certainly didn’t know how diverse the GMO product list was. I also didn’t know what Monsanto produced and how it dominates the GMO industry.
A GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is an organism that has had its genetics modified by adding a gene from a different organism to its genetics. Often the gene is not from the same species. The most common example is a GMO-patented food crop whose genetics have been altered by adding a gene that is resistant to herbicides. Much of the commercially-grown corn in the USA is now genetically modified.
The Monsanto Company is, world-wide, the largest company that creates and sells GMO seeds. They are also the producer of Round Up
, an herbicide. A Monsanto GMO seed will grow in a field that has had every living thing killed off of it with Round Up. Nothing else will grow in it. These seeds have had a gene added that is resistant to Round Up and creates a “fantastic” opportunity for farmers. Kill off all the weeds and then plant the GMO seed! Nothing will grow in the toxic soil except the GMO seed. Does this not set off alarm bells?
GMO seeds are sterile. The farmer cannot collect the seeds and replant them the next year. The farmer must return to Monsanto and purchase new seeds from the company. Talk about monopoly!
What seems more fantastic to me is that Monsanto Company is the creator of Round Up. How perfect a relationship is that?? First, sell the farmer the Round Up, then sell the farmer the seeds.
I haven’t had herbicides near my property for years. Weeds thrive in my lawn. My garden grows weeds as well as (or better than) vegetables. There is a constant battle between myself and weeds but I will not use an herbicide. Naturally, this means less production and more work for me. It would mean that to a farmer too. So you can see why a farmer would choose to use Round Up and GMO seeds.
What other great things has Monsanto been involved in?
- For a time was a leading manufacturer of plastics including polystyrene and synthetic fabrics
- Produced DDT and Agent Orange
- Manufactured Nutra Sweet, (aspartame)
- Created the Bovine Growth Hormone (BST)
- Was influential in the development of the first nuclear weapons
- Created PCBs
- Filed and won lawsuits against their neighbouring Canadian and American Farmers who sold seed that was contaminated by GMO patented seeds, spread to neighbouring farms by the wind. It is now officially a farmer’s fault if his neighbour’s GMO crop pollinates his adjacent field via the wind. He is then illegally selling GMO-patented seeds.
- Has successfully shut down organic farms because of wind cross contamination.
Is this a friend and neighbour you would like to have? Not on your life!
Corn takes much of the bad rap for being genetically modified. But many other things we eat on a regular basis are GMO. Check out this list provided by Disabled World
. Among others, honey, cotton, rice, soybean, tomatoes, corn, canola, potatoes, flax, papaya, squash, tobacco, meat, peas, vegetable oil, sugar beets, pineapple, strawberries, dairy products and vitamins, are now commonly GMO.
There is no law at present in Canada or the USA that forces companies to label their products that contain GMOs. So don’t assume that reading a label will tell you anything. Some companies are proud of the fact that their food is non-GMO and will label it as such. Japan, the European Union, Australia and Malaysia have all made it law to label GMO products so that the consumer can make a choice. Not so in North America though. Why not? Maybe because so much of our crops are already GMO that labelling GMOs would destroy our current system.
What are the potential risks associated with GMO products? Better Health gives examples:
- New allergens
- Antibiotic resistance may develop
- Cross breeding
- Herbicide-tolerant crops
- Pesticide-tolerant insects
- Cross contamination
- Pesticide use
- Lack of research on health effects
- Social and ethical concerns
- Monopolization of food crops
So how can you avoid GMO products?
- Buy certified organic. Certified organic products, by regulation, cannot contain GMOs.
- Grow your own vegetables. Most local seed companies are not large enough to be able to afford GMO seeds.
- Prepare and eat whole foods rather than prepared foods. That way, you can choose the organic ingredients that are in your food.
- Buy meat produced without growth hormones. Certified organic meat will not have been fed GMO feed and will contain no growth hormones.
What can you do:
Check out Organic Consumers
who have all the information you could ever need including boycotts, petitions and protests.
And just for the fun of it, did you know that some goats have been genetically modified to produce silk? And genes from a cold water fish can be added to strawberry genes to create a cold-resistant strawberry plant. Now you know. Care to take a stance?
This post has been linked up with Live Renewed, Little Natural Cottage, I Thought I Knew Mama, Whole New Mom: Traditional Tuesdays and Common Sense Homesteading: Live Well Blog Hop.