I sat on my yoga mat eyes closed, hands face down on my knees, I felt a sense of grounding as the teacher spoke of seeds, spoke of how seeds are planted, how we must plant what we want to grow. I thought of my life, of all the things I have desired to be, most of all I thought of what I want to stand for, what I wish to live for. This earth and all the inhabitants that call it home, I wish to spread love yes, but I wish to spread awareness, share knowledge, be a role model of health, of one that cares for the earth as if it’s the only home we have? I thought back to kindergarten, I was in the play the Lorax, I was the main once-ler, I came on stage in green tights and a green one piece shouting, “Now, you listen to me, Pop, while I blow my top! Trees? Ha! You speak for the trees? Well I speak for men, and human opportunities! For your information, you Lorax, I’m figgering on biggering and biggering, and biggering, and BIGGERING, turning MORE truffula trees into thneeds! Which everyone, everyone, EVERYONE NEEDS!”(Seuss) I thought back to this, I thought of what I was saying, what at five years old I couldn’t quite understand, then I thought to the a line that I spoke, a line that ended the play, how proudly I delivered the words, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not;” (Seuss) not realizing how real and true those words are.
Genetically Modified Organisms, also known as GMO, are organisms in which the DNA has been altered using genetic engineering, this does not naturally occur. (Roseboro) There are two types of GMO: Pesticide producers that kill insects and herbicide resisters that are immune to weed killers. (Seifert) After the Haitian earthquake Monsanto, the leading distributor of GMO seeds, sent 475 tons of Genetically Modified seeds to aid those in need, to “solve human hunger” through distribution and planting of GMO seeds that are patented and owned by Monsanto. The U.S. Agency for International Development handled the distribution of Monsanto’s donated seeds in Haiti. The Haitian farmers burned the genetically modified seeds. “Monsanto’s objective is to make money; their objective is not to make quality food that people are eating. Their objective is not to protect life, or the environment. Monsanto is poison for the air, poison for the people.” (Baptiste) The Haitians believe that seeds of life are the common inheritance of all humanity; the destruction of seeds, the altering and manipulation of life will result in nothing less than a catastrophe.
Monsanto is an agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation that began in 1901 started by John F. Queeny. The first product of this company is saccharine, an artificial sweetener that after many scientific studies, none of which were done by Monsanto, have been known to lead to bladder cancer, among other health issues. In 1976, Monsanto commercialized Round-Up herbicide in the US. In 1982, scientists working at Monsanto create the first genetically modified plant cell. (Monsanto) 80% of all processed foods contain GMO. 85% of all the corn grown in the US is genetically engineered, 91% of soy, 88% of cotton, 90% of canola, and 90% of sugar beets. There are 165 million acres of GMO in the US and 420 million acres of GMO worldwide. (Seifert) Monsanto claims that with GMOs the world will be fed. G.E. crops in the US are not more productive than non-genetically engineered crops in Western Europe. Crops that crossbreed for drought tolerance using traditional methods improved yield 30% more than GMO. (Starr) There are four proven alternatives to increase food availability without GMO’s: 1. Smarter use of fertilizer (30% increase) 2.Eliminating food waste (33% increase) 3. Eliminating biofuels (8% increase) 4. Cutting global meat consumption in half (27% increase). This together creates 98%. (Starr) These are just four non-GMO solutions.
Chemical and Seed companies run hand in hand. In 1860, farmers made up 58% of the workforce, today now less than 2% make up the workforce. There are more prisoners than farmers in the U.S. (Seifert) DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta are the top three Agro companies that are also the top seed companies. This makes up 53% of the worldwide proprietary seed market. (Seifert) Monsanto patented their GMO seed so when a farmer buys the seed and then plants the seed, he must re-buy the seeds each year due to this patent. The oldest farming tradition is reusing seeds, saving year after year; this no longer exists and is even illegal with Genetically Modified Seeds. Insects and wind can carry GMO seeds and pollens miles so it contaminates non GMO crops and then alters the DNA of those crops regardless if the farmer is organic, or not. Monsanto alone has sued hundreds of farmers for then breaking the patent due to having GMO pollination in crops. They have threatened thousands of others with lawsuits, which result in the farmer being bullied into buying their GMO seeds. An organic farmer I know from Iowa has told me story after story of farmers that have lost their farms, or organic licensing due to this patent. He has explained that the GMO farmers will purposely spray on windy days to increase chances of cross-pollination. He has lost acre after acre of organic farming land due to this and explains that there is no going back once the GMO seed has crossed into the organic farming land. GMOs are not only carried into other farms. Atrazine, an ingredient in the Roundup herbicide used in GM crops is the most common contaminant of ground water in the USA. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world. The world demand for pesticide use reaches 52 billion as of 2014. (Seifert)
“Monsanto is trying to patent nature.” (Logsdon) In 1980 Supreme Court allowed living organisms to be patented. In 1945, 200 million pounds of pesticides are used, now 500.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used. (Seifert) Bugs and weeds are now becoming immune which has lead to “superbugs” like cotton bollworm and western corn rootworm. Don’t worry though in 1996, Monsanto created more chemicals to kill off these super bugs and weeds that they are at fault for creating, in turn releasing more chemicals into the environment and our food system.
In the last hundred years in the United States up to 93% of crop varieties have vanished. (Seifert) This loss of diversity threatens our existence on the planet. Why then are GMO crops growing rapidly in sales, why are companies like Monsanto in such places of power? In the beginning GMO crops grow more, but there is no longevity. These Monsanto genetically engineered seeds have not even been around for more than two decades, they have not undergone proper scientific testing to measure safety; yet somehow has been approved by the FDA as safe for us to eat. According to Farming Systems Trials, “Organic corn yields were 31% higher than conventional in years of drought”. “Conventional systems emit nearly 40% more greenhouse gases per pound of crop produced more than organic.” “Organic fields increase groundwater recharge and reduce runoff.” There is no proof that GMOs are anything but harmful to our environment and to humanity.
“You should give people a choice, if they choose GMO it should be knowingly.” (Dennis Kucinich, Ohio: House of Representatives) House Democrats of Connecticut pursued requiring labeling of GMOs in food on March 2, 2012. State after state has tried, Monsanto threatens to sue each state that has tried to require GMO labeling. Over 60 countries including Russia and China require labeling. The EU established labeling of GMOs in 1997. (Seifert) Proposition 37 in California received over six million votes to label GMO. Monsanto and DuPont spent millions to oppose California’s GMO labeling law; they won by 3% of the vote. 80% of processed foods and 93% of soy are Genetically Modified. As of today, there are still only three states: Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont that require GMO labeling. Companies like Whole Foods vow to label Genetically Modified foods, they also vow that all their meat and produce are non-GMO. The safest bet still today is to purchase only organic products; this can help aid in staying off the GMO train.
In 1992, the FDA approved GMO as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) under heavy pressure from the biotech companies. There were no studies, no scientific testing required for this “safe” labeling. (Seifert) The biotech industry spent 547.5 million lobbying Congress from 1999 to 2009. (Food & Water Watch) Michael R. Taylor is the second highest-ranking employee at Food & Drug Administration (FDA). He is also a lawyer for Monsanto. The Gates Foundation purchases 500,000 Monsanto shares (Natural News). Wal-Mart and Monsanto team up to sell GMO sweet corn (Consumer Report). There are already a hundred new GMO plants ready to be used. “Two studies point to common pesticide as a culprit in declining bee colonies” (NY Times). Science experiments that are altering the world that we know, the environment we call home, what is sacred anymore, what should be left for our future generations? 297 scientists and experts around the world have signed a statement saying, “There is no scientific consensus on safety of genetically modified food and crops.” (October 2013)
“Oui, Les OGM sont des poisons.” (Yes, GMOs are poison) Gilles-Eric Seralini (PhD) conducted a two-year science experiment in France. In his research where he tested lab rats he found that the male rats had failing kidneys and livers after consuming GMOs, the women had kidney and liver issues as well, but more shocking, the female rats grew large tumors all over their bodies. The pituitary glands also affected in females. Estrogen doubled in males and the hormonal imbalance in the cells was off the charts. These results came after four to five months; the only experiments ever released from Monsanto about GMO are maximum three-month experiments. “The GMOs create new allergies, they make non toxic food toxic.” (Kimbrell) If we are what we eat then what are we consuming? Why have we not even been given the right to know what we put into our bodies?
I grew up among the cornfields of Iowa and Nebraska. I witnessed the beauty of American farmlands, the backbone of our country, the freedom to live in a place where you knew the food you ate, the people who picked your food, and the family and friends you shared your table with. I witnessed the injustices of farms that abused their animals and their farmland. I drove by the fields that were being sprayed by the planes from above and the large machines filled with countless chemicals and I held my breath. I will no longer hold my breath. I have picked up too many dying bees; I have seen too many children with diseases and illnesses that didn’t even exist decades before. I deserve the right to know what is in my food, what is being put into my environment, this is our home, we have one earth, the mother earth that has protected us, has fed us, has created beauty for our eyes to witness. It is up to you and me to stand up, to fight for the right to know what is being grown in our backyards, what is being put in our supermarkets, and what is making our way onto our tables and into our bodies. I have a dream. I dream of a world that I am proud to share with my children, with the children of the future; a world that is filled with pure food, uncontaminated water, and clean air, a world where the science experiments conducted stay far away from our food system, lead to no harm with the environment, and strive to better humanity instead of killing it. I dream of a world where I can breathe knowing that when I see a father hand his child an ice cream cone on a hot summer day he is not poisoning his child unknowingly, he is living this dream that I envision, that I know will become a reality. We have a voice, we have a right to know, we have a right to life.
Label GMO’s, Buy Organic, and Spread Awareness to create a better future.
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