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GMOs 101: Our Children Are Not Roundup Ready
There are three ways to look at nature: run in fear, seek to conquer, or live in harmony.
Humankind’s first gods grew out of the unpredictable forces of nature. These immortal deities were feared and revered. Cultures were centered around mythologies that allowed us to feel as if we comprehended the world.
We have come a long way from placing a sacrificial goat on a raised ceremonial altar at the volcano’s edge. But we are far from attaining harmony.
Today, there are many who think we can control nature with technological breakthroughs. They believe in global reach, western ideals, the rule of hierarchy, and the power of technology to solve all problems. They worship at the altar of innovation.
Technology has helped us enormously, but it has also contributed to our disconnection from the earth. We spend far more time in front of our televisions and computers than we do in nature. Worse, we are destroying the environment and the other beings who share it, only to marvel at our own technological prowess.
“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.” ~Leo Tolstoy
Ayurveda teaches that diseases arise through the damage of our water, air and soil. We cannot be healthy in a world that is compromised by our ignorance. So it is important that we understand what GMO crops do to our environment and our bodies.
What are GMO foods and why are they controversial?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. The chemical company Monsanto is the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and herbicides. Monsanto owns 53 percent of the world’s seed supply and is among the biggest beneficiaries of GMO crops and foods.
Genetically Modified Organisms come in two forms: pesticide-producing and herbicide-resistant GMOs.
Pesticide-producing GMOs are seeds that are modified with the BT protein, also called BT poison.
These plant seeds cannot be registered as “seeds.” They are legally labeled as “pesticides,” because when an insect feeds on the crop, the BT protein causes its stomach to rupture.
Monsanto claims that because BT is a natural protein found in nature, it is harmless. And it’s true: BT is a naturally occurring insecticide produced by bacteria in soil — nature’s protection for the sprout. However, the extremely high levels of BT used to produce these “seeds” are not found in nature and have not been proven safe.
Herbicide-resistant GMOs are commonly called “Roundup Ready” and have been genetically modified to be resistant to weed killer.
Herbicides are designed to kill weeds, and Roundup Ready crops are designed to survive these poisons.
Unfortunately, the produce still absorbs those toxins, and we consume the produce. This style of farming creates a vicious cycle; eventually weeds become resistant to the herbicide, which requires more spray, which means more poison in the environment and in our bodies.
Another of the many problems with this is that “pests” are not the only insects affected by these poisons. Bees and butterflies are also dying at alarming rates. In fact, many scientists around the world believe that GMO farming is the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.
We don’t understand the long-term effects of these contaminants in our bodies or in nature. The rate at which we develop toxins is faster than the rate our bodies develop resistance. Our children are not “Roundup Ready.”
How does Monsanto get away with it?
The government designed the FDA to protect us. But, over the last 30 years, its authority has been systematically stripped away.
Regulatory laws changed in the 1980s. Now, large companies like Monsanto no longer have to prove that what they sell is safe. Instead, the responsibility is on consumer advocates to prove a product is unsafe.
These vast, wealthy companies can easily hide because they have nothing to prove. And as a result, there are no longitudinal health studies demanded for products.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine believes that GMO foods are not safe. They state:
“There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.”
These “adverse health effects” include infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, and changes in major organs and gastrointestinal system. The AAEM noted that thousands of sheep, buffalo and goats died after grazing BT cotton plants; more than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks; and other rodents showed immune system toxicity, organ lesions and tumors.
The AAEM urged long-term GMO safety studies but was ignored.
Recently, the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology published a new study that links exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide with breast cancer. Hormone-dependent breast cancer cells grew “at levels far below what millions of people are exposed to every single day though the general food supply.”
The study results show that “Roundup Ready GM soybeans are a primary driver of the breast cancer epidemic.” More than 90 percent of women tested in 2011 had this toxin in the fetal tissue.
Monsanto’s corporate “pledge” proclaims transparency, integrity, and respect. But its business practices have not lived up to its promises. The company spends millions of dollars fighting any legislation put forward to protect the public. Its executives fear the consumer’s reaction if the truth came to light.
“You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself.” ~Hermann Hess
Do all countries use GMO crops?
No. GMO foods and crops are banned in most countries. The Organic Consumers Association has a list of countries that forbid GMOs.
The few other countries that allow GMO crops demand that GMO products be labeled as such. But the United States does not even require GMO labeling.
The FDA could require GMO labeling but doesn’t because there is no pressure from Congress.
There are 420 million acres of GMO crops being grown worldwide. Approximately 85 percent of all corn and 95 percent of commercial soybeans grown in the U.S. are Genetically Modified.
Monsanto and companies like it work on scale and government favors to crowd out the small farmer and destroy the local capacity to grow. The company strips the seeds from American farmers and forces them to buy Monsanto’s GMO “seeds” every year. No farmer, no matter how many generations of experience and investment he or she represents, is allowed to replant offspring seeds.
In this way, corporations like Monsanto are extirpating American agriculture traditions as if they were weeds.
“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” ~Aldo Leopold
Can GMOs help feed the world?
Monsanto produces glitzy promotional materials that proclaim it will “feed the world.” But there is absolutely no evidence that GMO crops increase yield.
The fact is that patenting seeds is a big business model. Whoever controls the seed controls the food supply. These giant conglomerates are not feeding the world; they are feeding their greed.
Dow, DuPont, Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto are chemical companies. What business do chemical companies have in producing the food we consume? They are destroying the soil, the water supply, and our future.
Crass economics rather than moral principles have taken over our food supply.
“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence." ~Thomas Jefferson
Why does the Government protect GMO companies?
Last month, Robert Fraley, a Monsanto executive, and Mary Dell Chilton, a scientist from Syngenta, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Agriculture. This is just another corrupt attempt to legitimize GMO production.
These executives are working both sides of the system. First, they work for the giant corporations, then they work for our government, and vice versa.
Need proof? How about this: The Deputy Food Commissioner for the U.S. Government, Michael R. Taylor, was formerly the VP for Public Policy for Monsanto.
This chart shows many more examples of the revolving door between our government and the Monsanto Corporation:
Why is the media so quiet about GMOs?
Few newspapers and TV news stations are brave enough to report on Monsanto and the corruption behind GMO foods, because they are terrified to lose their advertising.
Fox News did a series called “Get Our Milk Off Drugs.” Monsanto lawyers threatened the news station, and in the end,two reporters and the General Manager were fired.
Television stations are obligated to perform a public good in return for access to the airwaves. That helps the press perform the vital role of illuminating misdeeds that nurtures our democracy. When Monsanto threatens a small TV station, it also threatens the trusted relationship between the press and the public.
Monsanto manipulates technology for its own profit, but we cannot allow it to manipulate the press and yank out the sturdy root of our democracy.
How can I help fight GMOs?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead
Vote your conscience. Twenty-six states introduced GMO labeling legislation in 2013.
Monsanto and Dupont spent $45 million and General Mills spent $1.1 million to defeat these labeling initiatives. Chemical companies and grocery manufacturers work together to keep the American consumer in the dark. That’s why educating the public about the dangers of GMOs is paramount.
Write members of Congress. Demand your right to have food labeled.
Call or write your representatives and tell them you want a Federal GMO Labeling Act. Dennis Kucinich has brought The Right To Know Act to Congress since 1999. It has been 14 years and only now is it gaining consciousness in the public.
Find contact information for members of Congress here: contactingthecongress.org
Boycott GMO foods and companies
I have a compiled a complete list of foods to avoid., which you can find here.
Here are a few inexpensive organic alternatives:
Trader Joes (Anything with the TJ label is non GMO)
Late July organic snacks
Earthbound Farm Organic
The Non-GMO Project can also help you find healthy, safe foods.
Use buycott. Download this great app and with a scan of the barcode you can see if a company’s values are in line with your own.
Use Fooducate. this app that helps you find healthy food easily in your grocery store.
When we align the way we live with our principles we create lasting change. We can fear, conquer or find harmony with nature. But, there may be a fourth way: the earth as a looking glass, a mirror that reflects not just our image, but our intentions, our wisdom, and our union.
Will we like what we see?
“Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.” ~Jean-Pierre Barral
Marylee is a columnist for My Life Yoga, Bliss.com, Gaiam and Elephant Journal. Her essays explore motherhood and yoga, and focus primarily on her experiences with her young son and the many ways he helps her grow.
She is a registered yoga teacher and founder of Chakras Yoga. Prior to having her son, Marylee performed in Broadway musicals across the country. Her new CD, Stop Time, is available on iTunes and Amazon.