Why GMOs Are So Dangerous

Imagine this. There is a new disease that has just popped up in your community. It doesn’t usually kill people right off, but it can seriously impair their health, causing all sorts of issues like diabetes, cancer, and infertility. You don’t want this disease, so you stay away from anyone who has it and you wash your hands and your children’s hands like crazy. You purify the air in your house. You eat well, take supplements and get plenty of fresh air and exercise to keep your immune system healthy.

But the disease is spreading and gaining momentum. People all around you are being affected by it. It’s horrible to watch them get sick and see their quality of life go downhill. You don’t want this to happen to you and especially not to your children. It’s making you nervous and you’re not sure you can avoid being exposed anymore.

So you move. You go somewhere that this disease does not exist. You think everything is going to be okay, until, one day, someone in your town has contracted the illness. What happened? Someone must have brought it in on an airplane from the place you just left. The disease spreads like wildfire through your new community. You feel you have no choice but to move, again.

This time you go somewhere remote. An island in the Pacific. You’ll be safe there. The people seem pretty healthy and don’t really travel except to other nearby islands. Life seems pretty good. You’ve managed to outrun the disease and your children grow up seemingly healthy.

Then, one day, your daughter gets married and tries to start a family with her husband. Only, they can’t. Your son also gets married and he and his wife have two children who are sick all the time, and have food allergies. Your whole family seems to be tired these days. You wonder what has caused your family these health problems.

Then one day, you hear on the news that illness is on the rise in your remote corner of the world, and they have determined the cause of it. It’s the same disease you had run away from years before. It had caught up with you before you even had a chance to realize it. All your efforts to stay healthy and protect your family had been in vain.

This is how I feel right now. Only it isn’t an infectious disease that is threatening my family’s health, but rather a type of crop. Genetically modified crops are perhaps the most dangerous thing on the planet. I know that seems like an extreme thing to say, but let me explain. GM foods have been shown to cause serious disease and fertility issues in lab rats. Furthermore, many people who complain of illness are able to reverse their conditions by taking GMOs out of their diet. There is clearly a connection between GM foods and disease. In one instance in Africa, workers on a corn farm ate a diet largely consisting of GM corn from the farm. Many of them died. The farmer was advised to stop using the GM corn seed, so he tried this. When the workers ate normal corn, they were fine. Then he ran out of normal corn seed and went back to GMO. Workers started dying again. (Genetic Roulette, documentary)

source: wikimedia

In America, we don’t eat the majority of our calories from GM foods, which is probably why we aren’t dropping dead from them. It’s probably closer to 25% or so for the average American. The most popular GM foods here are corn (in its many forms, including high fructose corn syrup, found in everything from bread to soda pop) and soy (in its many forms, including soy oil that is a popular ingredient in everything from pizza to salad dressing). If you buy any convenience food that isn’t organic, chances are very good that you are consuming genetically modified food.

Through educating yourself you can learn to avoid foods that contain GMOs. This is what I have done. It’s not been easy! GMO labeling is not required, and GMO ingredients hide under many different names. Maltodextrin, for example. Or “natural flavorings.” However, by diligently reading labels and being aware of what ingredients are GMO, it is possible to get away from GMOs–for now.

Here’s the big problem. When a GMO crop pollinates, its pollen can go far distances on the wind. Bees can make pollen travel, too–if they even survive being exposed to the GM pollen, which they often don’t (Vanishing of the Bees, documentary). The pollen from GM crops can thus contaminate non-GM crops. When the non-GM crop then produce seed for the next year, it can be a GMO seed. Organic corn will no longer be organic corn. Organic soy will turn into GMO soy. There is no way to control this. The wind will do what it’s going to do.

There are several GMO crops on the market aside from corn and soy. There are sugar beets (used as “sugar” in processed foods), papaya, zucchini and yellow summer squash, cottonseed and canola (also very ubiquitous oils in foods), rice, flax and alfalfa. In addition to produce, animal products are at risk of being contaminated with GMO feed in the form of corn, soy and alfalfa. Cows raised with rBST hormone (a genetically modified hormone) are essentially genetically modified cows.

Okay, so you decide you aren’t going to eat any of the above mentioned foods. Great. Now what do you do when biotech companies invent more seeds? They are, of course, working on this all the time. Each year the GMO list grows. Monsanto, a major player in the biotech world, has made it their mission to control all of the seed in the world. They are relentless. So even if you decide to grow your own food with heirloom seed, what’s to stop that GMO pollen from contaminating your seed? You see, if we let GMOs be planted anywhere, they will inevitably affect all of our food.

Sound ominous, doesn’t it?

Okay, maybe it’s not going to be that bad. It certainly isn’t that bad yet. And there are less popular and obscure foods that Monsanto will probably never get to. But let me tell you, I like eating a wide variety of foods, and I also like buying foods that are convenient to get, such as from local farms in my area. I don’t want those foods to be contaminated. What’s going to happen when GM apples hit the market? Will I have to avoid apples then? You get my point. I don’t want GMO crops growing in my area.

Currently most GMO crops are grown in the midwest. But biotech is trying to branch out. They are currently in my state, trying to overrule farmers and citizens who are trying to ban GMO crops in their county. What are we to do?

Educate, educate, educate. Tell everyone you know how dangerous GMOs are. Warn them that biotech companies will tell all kinds of lies to make people think their products are safe. That they will lie to make people think that mandatory labeling will cost them money (this is how Proposition 37 in California, which would make labeling GMOs mandatory in California, failed to pass). They will lie and say that we need GMOs to feed the world (guess what, most of the world doesn’t want our GMOs!). People need to know that biotech companies such as Monsanto have allies in the government, so we shouldn’t trust what the government says about GMOs either. Why would anyone trust the government at this point, anyway?

GMOs are banned in many countries. Sometimes I think I’d like to move to one. But then I’d be running away from the battle. (I really don’t want to move anyway, I like where I live.) While I do believe we must make our voices heard and stand up against GMOs, we have to face the fact that it’s money that sways people. Vote with your dollar and get your friends to do the same. When GMOs stop being profitable, they’ll go away.

Ways to Fight GMOs

March Against Monsanto on May 25 in a city near you.

Boycott companies that support biotech companies.

Starve the Beast!

Avoid products that contain GMO ingredients.

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4 thoughts on “Why GMOs Are So Dangerous

  1. One point in here that bothered me: “They will lie and say that we need GMOs to feed the world (guess what, most of the world doesn’t want our GMOs!)”

    I don’t know where you’re from, but I am Canadian so I’ll use Canadian stats:
    In just the last 5 years, there has been a 10.3% drop in the number of farms. How do you expect farmers to keep up with the demand for food without increasing the size of their farms? More people are getting out of farming than going into farming and I don’t know how else you can keep up with the demand for food without farmers increasing their production. It is a well known fact that organic or non GMO farming produces lower yields than GM crops. Nobody is “lying”. Farmers aren’t operating because they feel like “poisoning” their consumers, they are smart people, and they do the best they can to feed the world.

    (stat: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/120510/dq120510a-eng.htm)

    1. Okay, first of all, I never said that anyone was trying to poison anyone, especially not farmers. I said that biotech companies such as Monsanto will lie to protect their bottom dollar. Monsanto and its allies spent tens of millions of dollars to prevent proposition 37 from passing in California. If it had passed, all it would have done was require that food labels state if they contain GMOs, just one more bit of information to be included on a nutritional label. Before the campaign, an overwhelming majority of Californians were for GMO labeling. When it came time to vote, Monsanto had convinced so many people that labeling GMOs would cost them a lot of money, and prop 37 failed to pass. You don’t think that this is deceiving people? Biotech companies are blatantly keeping people in the dark about the food they eat. Why would they do this? Because they know that most people don’t want to eat GMOs, but they currently do because they aren’t aware of GMOs being in the food they buy. The less they know, the more they’ll buy GMO, and they more money biotech will make.

      As for decreasing interest in farming…I am sure there are many things that factor into this, such as farm kids being encouraged to go to college and seek out a more profitable career. But farming itself has become less desirable over the years. It’s no longer enjoyable for so many. What kind of joy does a person get out of putting on a hazmat suit to go spray acres and acres of the same type of crop? What kind of joy does a person get out of dealing with sick, confined animals? It seems monoculture and factory farming are the type of farming people are being drawn away from, but it’s the kind of farming they believe they have to do (get big or get out, right?). Many farmers who buy into the GMO or Big Ag setup end up losing a lot of money. They go into debt to buy the fancy seeds or the big chicken house or whatever, and then they stay in debt because the yields aren’t high enough to make up the difference. GMO feed makes animals sick and farmers lose more livestock. Some farmers end up losing their farms. Some give up farming because they hate it so much. Some of them–particularly in India–take their lives. And then, there are those small traditional family farms that are doing just fine, but they get shut down because they can’t afford the excessive regulations that have been imposed on them by the government. Is it any wonder that fewer people are going into farming these days?

      The answer to this problem is not to develop more GMOs. We don’t want to feed the world with foods that can make them sick. There are a lot of countries that do not even want GMOs. Russia, for example, has stopped importing corn from the U.S. because they conducted studies that linked GMO corn with cancer. Europe does not do GMOs because the people don’t trust them.

      From what I understand, GMO crops also do not always provide higher yields, and they tend to require more water. In a drought year, non-GMO crops will out-perform them. But why do we want higher yields of anything that is not going to be nourishing to people, anyway? More people need to get back into farming. What makes farming a desirable career? I only know that these days, the farmers that seem to be most excited by their jobs are the ones running sustainable, biodiverse farms. They actually get to be connected with the land, their animals, and their customers, and they get paid a decent wage. That’s why we need to vote with our dollar. The more we support these farms, the more of them there will be.

      1. You are right that biotech companies did put in a lot of money against Prop 37, but the public switching between majority for and majority against may not just be because biotech companies swayed their vote. When people first hear about GMOs they don’t think of something pleasant and positive, just because its new, and a change from what they were raised on. Perhaps once the public researched it and became more educated on GMOs and the effects labelling would have on the industry, they decided to switch their vote from against to for. Just a thought, I am not necessarily saying this is the case for everyone.

        I’m currently working towards an degree in Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph (home of the Ontario Agricultural College) and in my program there are pretty much ALL farm kids, whose parents made them go to university, not to find another job, but because they wanted them to get educated in farming before taking over the family farm. Farmers today are more educated than ever before.

        Stats Canada also reported that the average age of the farmer has been steadily increasing, which also means that all the farmers that have been farming for years are dying off, with the farm land going to urbanization. This is a major reason why the number of farms/farmers are decreasing.
        Farming is also incredibly expensive to get into. Personally, after my degree I know there is no way I could own a farm right out of university simply because I couldn’t afford it. If you are producing something that is supply chain managed, buying quota can be millions of dollars, and that is if quota is even available.

        I don’t know why you seem to have the impression farmers (all types of farmers) hate what they’re doing. If you follow farmers or other involved in agriculture on social media such as Twitter, the most complained about thing is the way the media portrays them, and they love everything else about their jobs.

        Regarding GMO myths, this is an awesome read: http://www.examiner.com/article/gmo-free-connecticut-spouts-myths-and-misinformation-at-library-talk

      2. My sister lives in California and saw all the no on Prop 37 propaganda firsthand and talked with people. They voted against it because they were told the cost of their food would go up as a result of the labeling. I’d be really surprised if that many people took the time to research GMOs AND decided they are safe–especially since a simple google search will yield plenty of results that claim the opposite. There is enough skepticism against GMOs to make anyone want to at least know if they are eating them.

        I did say that “some” farmers quit because they end up hating their job. Maybe hate was too strong a word? And I only said some, not all. I mean, I really have no idea how many–perhaps it is less than I imagined. And I didn’t mean that they hate farming, more like they don’t enjoy seeing their animals sick or they are so stressed under the weight of their debt. Stuff like that. I certainly don’t think all farmers hate their work, I have no idea what gave you that impression. My goodness, sometimes I think I would want to farm, although most likely I’d only go as far as homesteading. Does the media portray farmers in a bad way? The media I read is all about farmer love. And I do love my farmers. Oh, my gosh, I love my farmers. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to eat the way I do. I really would have to raise all my own food if it weren’t for them. My dairy farmer’s name is Mike, who produces the best quality milk imaginable from grassfed Guernseys. Last year I got my summer produce from Lane and Tia, but this year trying another farm run by a gal named Denise–both farms are managed organically as much as possible. My beef comes from Doc and Connie, who raise their livestock on pasture, although I plan to go directly through another (smaller) farm soon to save some money. My chicken comes from Chrissie and Koorosh, whose chickens are kept on pasture. My eggs came from my parents (they have like a mini egg farm), but I wanted to have GMO-free eggs so I switched to this other farm that was pasture-based…didn’t like the eggs as much…we are now getting our own chickens. Anyway, my point is, I have a relationship with a lot of the people who grow my food, and I pretty much cherish them. And I see how happy they are and how much pride they have in their work. I’ve listened to interviews from farmers, watched documentaries about farmers, read blogs and news articles. So, this is where my point of view comes from.

        You seem not to like my suggestion that some farmers have encouraged their kids to find new careers. This was just a suggestion, of course, something I heard a farmer say in an interview. I’m not understanding your explanation of why farms are decreasing, that farms are going to urbanization. Does the government seize their land or do they give it up? Why aren’t their kids taking over the farms? Do farmers no longer hand down their land to their kids? I’m afraid I don’t understand how this works…I thought there were fewer farmers nowadays because there was less interest and/or the government made it too difficult to keep a small farm.

        As for GMO myths…I’ve seen studies that very much suggest that GMOs are dangerous, so no matter how much they are claimed to be safe, it’s going to be really hard for me to believe that. There are scientists in other countries that are also suspicious of GMOs. So like, smart people that understand what they are looking at. I like to play it safe. Other people do, too.

        I’m sorry to be so argumentative, but I’ve just learned in my life to question everything. Doing so has kept my family healthier, safer and happier.

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