Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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I liken the GMO debate to what I grew up learning about the decades the tobacco industry knowingly sold products that caused death to the general public. Thalidomide, DDT and their ilk was another learning process for everyone. On one side you have profiteer’s willing to say anything to promote their product to enrich them even though it is to the detriment of the very consumer that makes them rich. The GMO debate walks like tobacco, sounds like tobacco and smells like tobacco and is history repeating itself.
You have the industrial food complex spending millions if not billions already on sending out misinformation to confuse consumers about the relative safety of GMO products. On the other side, you have formal, yet independent findings that show detriments to the environment (super weeds and bugs), upper-respiratory issues (increase in asthma suffers, even when increase in population is taken into account), endocrine problems in predictor species (bass and bullfrogs feminized by Atrazine), food-born allergies, anti-biotic resistant strains of bacteria, the list just seems to keep growing. When growing up I did not know of anyone who had a peanut allergy. I know they must have existed but today, we have people that are dangerously allergic to peanut, gluten, lactose, soy, egg, latex, shellfish and others.
Corporations are telling us GMO’s are safe, so did big tobacco and the chemical companies about their products in the 1950 and 60’s. Just look at who supplied money to the anti-gmo labeling initiatives in California prop-37 and Washington’s I-522 initiatives. Then you have independent researchers finding out there are detriments to the product. Big tobacco brought out study after study verifying their claim that held cigarettes harmless. You hear there is no science to support GMO and cancer links. At one point in time there was no scientific evidence that linked lung, lymphoma and other cancers to cigarettes.
Our history is fraught with corporations going after profit over the safety of the consumer, which is why we have some consumer protection laws. Having grown-up witnessing the ravages of tobacco’s toll on my family and seeing the ills of DDT and thalidomide babies makes me more acute to what claims are being presented and sold to me and by whom.
When first introduced GMO’s were sold based on farmers having to use less herbicides and insecticides in the field, saving them money while increasing yields. Now, independent research is proving otherwise. We have the advent of super-weeds and bugs that have become resistant, causing the need for even more and stronger chemicals. Then there are the other industrialized nations, in the world, that have banned GMO’s.
Right now, what I see from both sides harkens back to the 60’s and 70’s when big tobacco was desperately trying to keep their secrets hidden and that hits too close to home. If GMO’s are safe, why not label and let the consumer make the choice, even if they are not safe, people still choose to smoke.
Support Your Local Truck Gardner
Posted by Brian
@ 08:43 PM EDT
BPA, BHA, BHT, DDT, PCB's Sodium Nitrate and Nitrites, 2, 4-D, 2, 4-T Atrazine, Glyphosate and Phthalates, all chemicals that the manufacturer has claimed were safe backed up by studies they funded. Atrazine is not supposed to stay in the human body (according to industry research), yet Canadian researchers found it in the blood of pregnant women and then in their umbilical cords. Does that mean it will be in the fetus? Scientist have reported that pigs eating GMO corn leaves them with higher stomach inflammation then those fed non-gmo corn they have also found a new mutation in the DNA of GMO corn called Gene VI known as a viral gene. Viral as in virus.
Atrazine, is an endocrine disruptor found to castrate and feminize frogs, bass and other predictor species. What do you think it is doing to fetuses? We have a problem with our food supply. Additives, preservatives and other synthetic substances are in our food with very little empirical research focusing on the affect to the human body. Bombarded by health claims that truly are false, Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food,” stated rather bluntly that if the package reports to be healthy or has any other claim of benefits, to the human body, it is not. He went on to say, paraphrasing: read the ingredients, if the ingredients were not around when your grandmother was alive it is not good for you. Whole foods are good for you, fruits vegetables, nuts and berries and yes, the occasional protein input
It is our time; we as a nation are a spending economy. If we do not spend, then the one percent does not make money. Raise your voice with your wallet. Shop local, support local business, go to the mom and pop stores, and most of all source your food. Find a local farm or CO-OP and ask questions; most importantly buy products labeled as NON-GMO. Each of us has a duty to those less informed about their food choices. You will hear "I cannot afford the prices of organic or naturally grown". I know given economic choices hard decisions are made, but that does not mean you have to make the wrong choice. As Pollan pointed out in his book, we spend money now for cell phones, cable, internet, internet games, streaming video and other services that we never had to before. Once again, it comes down to choice. It is a choice that profoundly affects the future health of you and those to come after us.
I know it is a radical suggestion, but by making that choice, you are supporting people that are benefiting the air you breathe, the food you eat and the earth that your family inhabits. Besides, your taxes already go to pay for environmental ills caused by those that sell you this cheap, chemically laden food. My question is why would you want to support that? By staying local, you build your community backup. The money you spend on a farm or at a farmers market goes to pay for local labor, local supplies and kept in your community.
Do not kid yourself, you are paying a larger price then you know, the choice you make today influences the lives of our future generations. The science of today has proven the ill affects of the chemicals mentioned above. Given the greed that we see around us from big-ag, would you have any other reason to believe that this history is not going to repeat itself? GMO makers might have the upper hand but you my friend have the greatest gift to benefit yourself and future generations, you have a choice.
Buy Local: Help the hundreds of thousands of us, struggling to bring you fresh, safe, food
Posted by Brian
@ 12:37 PM EDT
Well the industrial food complex won this latest round in the fight to have a safe food supply. The IFC pumped enough money into the California proposition 37 to convince people that labeling GMO foods, as such, was not warranted.
It passed by a slim margin so there is still hope. The fight will go on, those of us dedicated to safe, sustainable food supply are growing. More people everyday are learning about the ills of GMO foods. More research is coming out pointing to the flaws of GMO food. Studies that report findings of GMO corn in the placenta of pregnant women and in there blood samples.
Unfortunately, for the uneducated American consumer some of them or their family members will end up being a statistic in the whole GMO debate. There is just too much information out there that suggests we need to re-evaluate the use of GMO food. Why are we the only industrialized nation in the world that allows GMO's in our food supply?
Could it be the lobbyist that the IFC spends millions on to peddle influence when it comes to food policy? Or is it the government relying on studies conducted by the IFC that prove GMO's are safe?
Either way it should cause you some concern. Corporations are not people; they have no heartbeat, no endocrine system, no feelings and no regard for human safety other then what their insurance policies dictate. Okay, so I am cynical, but I know the bottom line and we as a nation have become so bottom line driven that the human equation is not even taken into account. Actually, a car company made a car that when it was rear-ended the gas tank exploded. That car company did a cost benefit analysis and found that it would be cheaper to pay for death and personal damages then to recall all the cars and put a ten-dollar part in the car (Elkhart County, Indiana v. Ford Motor Company). That was back in the seventies before the real greed and bottom line decision making got worse.
I will ask again, if GMO is not bad for the human body, which predictor species show is not the case, then why doesn't the IFC open up the research findings? Why have the EU, Mexico and other countries outright ban the use of GMO seeds, let alone food for human consumption? This battle was lost, but it is just but one bump. As long as there are concerned foodies fighting for a safe food supply, we will prevail. Lobbyist or not we will prevail.
By Local: By organic and you will know it is not GMO.
Posted by Brian
@ 06:32 PM EST
To show you how important GMO is to the industrial food complex (IFC) you only need to look at California’s Proposition 37. It is a bill that would require food manufacturers to label foods made with GMO tainted products. Why is this important to you? Because as California goes so goes the Country. California represents about 12% of the total food consumed in the United States.
The IFC has poured in over 25 million dollars to defeat the referendum. Monsanto alone has contributed 4 million to defeat the measure. Coke, Pepsi and others have contributed as well. People are suggesting boycotting these companies. I suggest eating healthy. Eat whole foods that you know do not contain GMO's. GMO’s have been getting bad press about the ill it is causing in the human being, the environment and the flora and fauna.
More of us want food that does not have GMO added. The EU and other countries do not allow GMO in there food supply and there are reasons for that. To me the bottom line with GMO is that an anti-biotic needs to be spliced into the DNA helix in order for the DNA to accept the modified trait being introduced. Then there is the actual substance that is being placed in the DNA. Let me explain, the anti-biotic helps the DNA accept the modification into its makeup say the round-up gene. Round-up ready corn has the round-up gene spliced into its DNA with the help of the anti-biotic. Then if we eat tacos, corn chips or whatever is made with the substance that genetic modification is consumed along with the anti-biotic strain.
That is my elementary understanding, I am not a scientist, and I have no empirical facts other then observations. Those observations are the following: more viruses are becoming anti-biotic resistant, more food borne allergies are being reported, scientist report environmental impacts like feminization and castration of predictor species and flora is starting to become round up resistant. In essence making a super-weed that is impervious to weed killers and strain of viruses that are anti-biotic resistant. Which in turn leads to the need for even more nefarious chemicals to control the weeds. 2.4-D for instance would be used. 2,4-D was the checmical in agent orange.
We are certified organic and GMO drift is one of those things that must be monitored and stopped if possible. I can tell you it is not possible unless you have a very isolated well-protected field you are susceptible to GMO propagation of your plants. We take great pains to find out what is being planted around us and when the germination is going to start to take place. We then plant around that window of propagation. It is the only way I know how to safely grow food. Sometimes we will not plant corn a second time due to drift potential.
The same people that developed GMO technology are the ones that recommended the use in the US food supply. That fact alone answers the question of is it bad for you. If it was healthy wouldn't they open it up to transparency just to prove it is not harming the environment or us?
Buy Local: They do not use GMO.
Posted by Brian
@ 08:29 AM EDT
Now is the time to make your voice heard on GMO's and labeling food. The FDA is seeking public comment on lableing food products containing GMO's. It is time to stand up and help fight against the industrial food complex.
Follow this link, to let the FDA know that you want to be able to chose whether or not you eat GMO tainted foods. This is our time, when we stand up and say "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore." (from the movie Network). Tell the FDA we want to know when a product has GMO's. When you talk about food safety it does not hit closer to home than this. When you talk about selfless acts and giving, now is the time.
GMO has not been proven safe for human consumption. As a matter of fact evidence exists that shows it is harmful to human beings. You do not have to be a scientist to question why are there so many super-bugs that are straining the use of anti-biotics and the fact that anti-biotics are spliced into the DNA of GMO food.
Please, follow the link and make your voice heard, for you, your family, your children and the generations to come. It is time to protect our food supply, our environment and our health. Today, right here, right now, more then ever, it is our time.
Buy Local: Keep the momentum up.
Posted by Brian
@ 03:29 PM EDT
I read in the Chicago Tribune that there was a study on the existence of GMO's in the human body. It was about an article written in "Reproductive Toxicology" by Canadian researchers. The researches simply looked at blood from pregnant woman and then blood from the umbilical cord. What they were looking for was if there were any GMO's in the blood.
The Tribune article went on to say, "genetically modified crops differ in that the plants grow from seeds in which DNA splicing has been used to place genes from another source into a plant. In this way, the crop can be made to withstand a weed-killing pesticide "Think Atrizine- my words" for example, or incorporate a bacterial toxin that can repel pests. Canadian researchers this year reported that the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women and 80 percent of their umbilical cord blood samples contained a pesticide implanted in GMO corn by the biotech company Monsanto, though digestion is supposed to remove it from the body".
It is the "removed from the body," that is unsettling. Here we go again with those annoying trace amounts. This is what the Industrial Food Complex (IFC) and their equally huge lobbyists want everyone to believe. The article points out that trace amounts are okay as defined by the FDA, EPA and USDA. I use Diacetyl, again, as one of those chemicals that left trace amounts, but were supposed to be, processed out of the body. Instead, it caused lung cancer when a man consistently ate microwave popcorn. OHSA required workers that made microwave popcorn to wear masks that filtered the Diacetyl while they breathed. Why? Diacetyl, a known carcinogen, caused lung cancer when breathed consistently. Research said it was safe in trace amounts but not in the concentrated amounts that workers faced.
If you have the money, you can buy scientific studies. DDT, Asbestos, Agent Orange, Atrizine, Nicotine throw a dart. The cigarette industry proved for decades that their products were not addictive. Only until consumer advocacy groups and the ethics of a scientist, proved otherwise, but at that same time millions of us suffered through the loss of a loved ones linked to one carcinogen or another from the 316 plus chemicals in cigarettes. The tobacco industry and lobbyist had thousands of studies to document the safety or their product. Have corporations turned a leaf and have they become more ethical both environmentally and with what they sell us to keep our bodies healthy. Not when the bottom line is the goal, they are not.
Not only is research purchased the statistics can be manipulated based on a few factors, like standard deviation or the amount of data collected. It is like the banking industry and the housing market. The banks created categories of loans, bundled each one separately then sold the bundles. Then they bet against the bundle holding its worth. The bankers get rich, homeowner, takes the loss.
I realize that I am using a scientific study to justify the ills of GMO's. I am not missing the paradox. However, when you learn what DNA splicing is and how it is accomplished, you do not have to be a scientist to know there will be problems. I would rather error on the side of caution, especially when you find out that in order to get the corn DNA to accept the foreign DNA gene, and anti-biotic strain needs to be spliced in to the new DNA helix. There are stories of super bugs that have bacteria resistant strains. This does makes me wonder if there is a correlation.
The article failed to mention how we, as consumers, discovered GMO's in our food supply in the first place. I think it was in 2004 that a woman ate a taco shell made with GMO corn and had a bad reaction to the food. It was eventually determined GMO corn made up the taco shell. In European countries, regulations make the food industry prove that the changed chemical or genetic make up of the additive or preservative is safe for human consumption and cause no ill affect. In the US, it is Caveat Emptor, think of nano-technology and titanium dioxide.
I would bet that it is already in our food supply, we just have not found out about it yet. It is not as if the IFC was fourth coming with the whole GMO thing. That is another strong argument for buying organic as the article points out. It is against organic regulations to use any GMO anything. However, if GMO corn that was planted in Colorado shows up in a Mexican corn field you really wonder what chance does any organic farm have against cross pollination. Could it drift into organic production fields?
You bet your sweet @$$, it can. In the US organic requirement, you need to have at least a twenty-five foot wide hedgerow or buffer zone. Most of our buffer zones are greater than one hundred feet. However, when you find the same strain of GMO corn planted in Colorado in Mexico does a buffer zone really matter?
We need better labeling on our food. That is the only way we as consumers can make the industrial food complex clean up their act. When they are hit in the pocket, they will take notice and they will take action. Right now, their action is to fight against new labeling requirements.
If you want to buy GMO food, have at it. If you do not want to buy foods made with GMO products, the only way you can do that is to buy organic or have the label indicate that GMO is in the food. The industrial food complex is fighting hard to stop regulators from requiring new labeling that identifies GMO in their products. I wonder why? It would not have anything to do with the profit motive, do you suppose? Get active write your federal officials in favor of labeling GMO products as such.
Buy Local: Keep the momentum up, tell a friend to tell a friend
Posted by Brian
@ 05:49 PM EDT
Why did the goverment of Mexico outlaw ALL GM (genetically modified) foods, especially corn? Then only to discover that strains of GMO corn have made their way into the corn fields of Mexican farmers. They Mexican government had the foresight to see that what represents their national pride, their heritage should not be tinkered with. The Mexican government simply wanted to keep what is there mainstay as pure as possible. Corn is their way of life always has been. Maize was discovered in Mexico from the teosinte genus. Go to www.hulu.com and search for the "Future of Food", it is a documentary that discusses corn and its origin. You will also find that GMO is not as safe as the IFC pretends.
This documentary on how genetic engineering was accomplished, how seeds are patented and then used as a big stick to force farmers into the herbicide ready club was the fore bearer of Food Inc., We are at a cross roads in our concepts of food, where you see grass root efforts like the slow food, buy local food, and support local farms movements spawn because of this. We have groups like Ark of Taste which is a movement to bring back heritage breeds from pigs, cows and chickens to tomatoes and everything else that has been genetically modified to fit the needs of the profit motive not that of the taste of the consumer.
GMO is part of the larger picture of food safety. From my stand point trace amounts of nasty chemicals on the food, or pathogens that cause recall after recall year after year is a real concern. Why? because consumers are losing their lives. What got us growing organic food over twenty years ago was that we were eating more vegetables to get healthy but I kept hearing about trace amounts of chemicals being on what I was ingesting. Not only that but vegetables were being imported from country's that used herbicides and insecticides that were ban in the U.S.
So, if I was ingesting trace amounts then why isn't that a problem? According to scientific findings the trace amount of chemicals on the fruit or vegetable isn't concenrated enough to cause harm. Okay, didn't science tell us that thalimide was safe, PCB's, DIOXIN, Agent Orange, Declomicin or (fill in the blank).
I know there are people that spend their life's pursuit in the sciences and I have the greatest admiration for them. To often the means of a few outweigh the detriment of the masses (think my old friend Atrazine). Our history is littered with examples, current and past.
But my most base of all arguments is taste, the simple fact of taste. Remember taste, remember when tomatoes tasted like sweet, soft, watery spheres of nirvana. It has been said the reason organic fruits and vegetables taste better is that they have to struggle to get nutrients out of the ground. Unlike conventional veggies that have ready supplies sprayed on them. I've learned that which does not kill you serves to make you stronger. In an organic plant that is basically the same concept. When a plant is attacked by a predator the plant releases its own sent that attracks bugs that are predators of the bug eating its leaves. This is how the plant has evolved and survived. Evolution is why heritage and heirloom species taste so much better. We all have been told nothing good ever comes from something easy, so too with the plant world. The plant grows stronger and has a better taste then the plant that was sprayed with synthetic fertilizers and insecticides.
I trust my taste buds, I know what is on my plants, I know that the more we allow large corporations to genetically modify food the greater susceptibility we all face from unknown genetic mutation and greater risk of bacterial out breaks caused by an increase in antibiotic resistant pathogens.
We are in control of our own destiny, that of the earth's scarce resources and our future generations. If we all don't start talking more about the negative affects the IFC has on all of these then it is our own fault.
Buy Local - From a local farm; Their effort is well worth yours.
Posted by Brian
@ 06:59 PM EDT
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