56° Good Evening
56° Good Evening
LifestyleHome and Garden

Genetically modified food and you -- Part 3

Past installments: Catch up on the GMO series

Genetic engineering is nothing new; what's new is the rate at which biotech foods are being approved. High-profile GMO opponents like natural health physician Dr. Joseph Mercola; founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, Jeffrey Smith; and writers Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman have been warning deaf ears for years. Earlier this month, Bittman, The New York Times'  food columnist left his 13-year post to write food-centered opinion pieces for the paper. It's as if he left his family to climb the highest mountain with a megaphone and warn the masses. He started his new endeavor by targeting GMOs with a call to "break up the U.S. Department of Agriculture and empower the Food and Drug Administration.

"Currently, the U.S.D.A. counts among its missions both expanding markets for agricultural products (like corn and soy) and providing nutrition education. These goals are at odds with each other; you can’t sell garbage while telling people not to eat it."

The 2008 film "Food, Inc.," which was shown to my daughter's 8th-grade class recently (very good movie; very bad idea showing it to 13-year-olds), begins by stating during the opening credits, "the [agriculture] industry doesn't want you to know the truth about what you're eating, because if you knew, you might not want to eat it."

Although these are pretty strong words, I don't think enough people have heard them. However, I'm noticing that slowly, perhaps too slowly considering that GM seeds have been in circulation for nearly 2 decades, more people in the mainstream are beginning to pay attention.

I found some 15 Facebook pages devoted to fighting genetically modified foods, including Dr. Mercola's "No GMOs" page, with more than 21,100 followers, and the "Oprah, please Expose Monsanto & the Dangers of GM Foods" page, with just 150.

Farmers and seed sellers Jere and Emilee Gettle, who put out the beautiful annual Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog, have made a public statement in this year’s edition, which I received in December: “We feel that food and life are rights that should not be controlled, manipulated and polluted by a few multinational corporations. Genetic engineering is even starting to scare the farmers who grow it. Scientists are finding these manipulated genes showing up in ground animals and insects. Studies show that some strains have sickened mice and rats. Some types have gone ‘wild’ and are now becoming almost uncontrollable weeds. Soy allergies in humans have doubled since the introduction of GE soy. Scientists are now questioning how this might affect fish after finding living, genetically modified genes in streams for many months after the crops’ harvest season. Sadly, we humans are the ultimate ‘guinea pigs’ of the chemical corporations, who engineer many crops so farmers can spray nearly unlimited amounts of the same corporations’ own herbicides. This chemical spray kills almost everything...except the engineered crop! Remember the same company that brought us DDT and Agent Orange is now bringing us this new technology.”

That’s certainly food for thought.

Next: Does this coin have another side? 

More Lifestyle