What’s on my radar?
Each month I will be writing about books, DVD’s, organizations, trends, and events that are “on my radar” as they are important, timely and educational – which means they will empower you to think for yourselves, enable you to challenge the received wisdom, and give you ideas of how you might get involved to help create positive change on issues like vaccine safety, health freedom, individual rights, food safety and freedom, truth in science and medicine, and so much more. We hope it will be useful information to you all.
Thanks for being part of our community. –Leslie Manookian, The Greater Good
This month, I wanted to talk about a very hot topic that has been in the news a great deal and will continue to be: genetically modified organisms or GMO’s. GMO’s are products in which the genes of one species have been injected into the genes of another species to make that species different. For example, genes from spiders have been injected into goats so that they will produce spider silk in their milk from which super strong fiber can be spun. Monsanto’s Bt corn has incorporated a special soil bacterium directly into the genes of the corn to enable every cell in the corn to produce this soil bacterium so when pests eat the corn, their stomachs rupture and the pest dies. The corn is literally a miniature pesticide factory in the ground. While one might imagine this could only happen in sci-fi movies, it is sadly happening today all around us. The questions one must ask are why are we doing this and is it safe?
The answer to the first question is simple. Clearly, GMO’s are about money. While GMO producers have argued for the past couple of decades that GMO’s are necessary to feed the world, the truth and honesty of this claim has come increasingly into question as more studies demonstrate that GMO crops only increase yields in the first few years of planting whereas yields from conventional and especially organic crops rise and outpace GMO’s over a medium to long term horizon. In addition, while millions of people on the planet go hungry, it has been acknowledged that this is not due to insufficient quantities of food produced but rather to the distribution and control of that food. What is true is that GMO crops sell more pesticides for the pesticide makers who happen to also be the producers of GMO seeds. In addition, GMO seed producers like Monsanto sell their seeds and require that each year, the farmer throw out the left over seed and BUY new seed. This means that farmers from India to Africa to the Americas become captive customers of the global GMO seed producers.
The second question, are GMO’s safe, is an even pricklier topic. GMO’s have been shown to cause infertility, premature death, tumors, and organ failure in animals fed them. But GMO producers have not been required to submit their genetically modified products to safety studies in humans which begs a huge, why not??!?! Well it seems that while the rank and file scientists at FDA recommended that approval of GMO’s not be granted given real safety concerns and that GMO’s be subjected to further study, more senior officials at FDA simply overruled them. So today, while more than 60 countries around the globe have either banned GMO’s outright or require them to be labeled, the US is a glaring and embarrassing standout in its approval of them. US health officials essentially railroaded these products through and are forcing them on the populace by not requiring their labeling which otherwise would enable consumers to be aware of their presence and avoid GMO’s if they choose. Additionally, FDA granted GMO’s a stamp of approval known as GRAS or, generally recognized as safe. How FDA could classify GMO’s as GRAS when their own scientists wanted to reject approval of GMO’s outright is proof of how much influence corporations have over policy in America today. Scary.
Another danger of GMO’s is that while the GMO producers initially argued their products were environmentally friendly because farmers could theoretically use fewer pesticides, the exact opposite has been the case in practice. As food crops are sprayed with herbicides to kill weeds, the weeds are becoming resistant to the herbicides, necessitating the use of more herbicide. Comfortable in the knowledge that the food crop is genetically modified to resist the herbicide, this unfortunate turn of events has prompted farmers to douse their crops with increasing quantities of herbicide such that reports of a 10-fold increase in chemical use are not uncommon. The upshot of all this? The foods we eat contain higher levels of chemicals and our rivers and waterways are bombarded with increasing chemical runoff causing untold damage.
The good news? While efforts to pass a bill in California last November failed by a slim margin, citizens in other states have taken up the cause. Washington state, Connecticut and Vermont are all attempting to pass legislation that would require the labeling of GMO’s. Proof of just how worried the GMO producers are about labeling of their products is the $45 million GMO producers and major food product manufacturers spent to defeat the legislation in California. But citizens are waking up to the fact that GMO’s carry serious potential threats the same way vaccines do, and that the corporate world has hijacked our systems implemented to protect the public. It may not happen tomorrow, but the truth is getting out and you can make a difference by staying educated, spreading the word, and contributing to non-profits working to protect you. Check out The Institute for Responsible Technology to learn more or get involved.