February 3, 2009
Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have become a hot topic among farmers, environmentalists, gardeners and others concerned with food and environmental safety. Some folks believe that GMO technology is "the single most potent technology the world has ever known" and capable of causing incurable damage to our species' well being.
Here is a very simple explanation of the issue: Monsanto, the producer of the infamous chemicals Agent Orange and PCB, has developed a biotechnology that alters the genetic makeup of seeds. The original and ongoing intent of the technology is to allow mass spraying of herbicide over entire fields without hurting the crop.
Seeds are altered to produce plants that are not affected by herbicide, so farmers can broadcast spray huge amounts of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide without affecting the food crop. Did I say not affecting? That is what Monsanto would have you believe, but common sense and the evidence indicates otherwise.
Monsanto has gone so far as to patent these genetically modified food crops, has bought out more than fifty seed companies and is basically working toward the control of our entire food supply by limiting our choices to their GMO seeds.
Here are just a few of the dangers of GMO and the food produced by the technology
(1). Pesticides are now INSIDE the food you eat! "Pesticidal foods" have genes that produce a toxic pesticide inside the food's cells. This represents the first time "cell-interior toxicity" is being sold for human consumption. There is little knowledge of the potential long-term health impacts.
(2). The majority of GM agricultural products are developed specifically for toxin-resistance - namely for higher doses of herbicides/ pesticides sold by the largest producer companies - Monsanto, Dupont, Novaris, Dow, Bayer, Ciba-Geigy, Hoescht, AgroEvo, and Rhone-Poulenc. More pesticides in our environment, contrary to the claims of Monsanto.
(3). Critically reduced biodiversity - the great gene pool of millions of beneficial plants is in serious jeopardy.
(4). Direct links and evidence of increased incidence of cancer and other diseases.
(5). Destruction of forest ecosystems.
(6). Facilitation of increased success of super-viruses.
(7). The FDA only requests of firms that they conduct their own tests of new GM products, and the FDA makes no review of those tests unless voluntarily requested by the company producing the product.
So what can we do to stop the proliferation of GMO in our society? Certainly write letters to our elected representatives to protest. Equally important, patronize only those seed suppliers who adamantly oppose GMO.
And here is a list of companies which signed a Safe Seed Pledge in 2006, stating: "We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants."
The best advice for gardeners is to always order certified organic, GMO-free seeds.
The issue of GMO tainting of our seed bank is huge. I believe we need to spread the word to all of society, not just gardeners, environmentalists and other "tree-huggers".