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)
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.