When I was younger and considerably more ignorant, I read about the notion of genetically modified organisms and thought of them as a wonder. Just think — we can get the best properties of the plants that we love and remove the properties that we don’t want. What could possibly be wrong with something like that?
What’s wrong with, say, a modification to a plant to make it resistant to the pesticides used to kill the weeds surrounding the delicious usable crop?
Some of their Roundup Ready GE crops are cross pollinating with weed species. Because of the cross pollination new “super weeds” are springing up. Weeds that are related to these crops are being pollinized by them and are now showing resistance to Roundup. And it’s not just cross pollinization that is causing this. The overuse in general is making weeds resistant. It kills the weeds that aren’t resistant, but the weeds that survive pass on their genes. It’s a never ending cycle that results in more chemicals in our food.
I am reminded of a horror movie in which people were being attacked by a colony of killer ants. They devised a certain poison that they thought would surely be able to kill off the ants. At first, the poison worked and killed the ants. Suddenly, from deep within the ground, a new crop of ants started emerging that were different in color and resistant to the poison.
Organic dairy organization Stonyfield is encouraging ordinary people to stand up and fight against the United States Department of Agriculture plan to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa sprouts. What could possibly bring the USDA to make such a decision? Simply put, “…Monsanto and big biotech have spent tens of millions lobbying in Washington and funding studies that support the use of GE alfalfa. These biotech giants have terrifyingly deep pockets. ”
There are many issues surrounding the use of genetically modified alfalfa, but let us only touch upon two. For one, there is no guarantee that genetically modified alfalfa is in the long run actually healthy and safe in terms of long term consumption. Moreover, it is deeply difficult to avoid if one wishes to do so, as this genetically modified alfalfa would then be fed to dairy cows and other animals that would be served up for dinner to unsuspecting diners, not realizing that they are eating something that has itself eaten genetically modified organisms.
Secondly, there is the issue of the bees. Oh, how far and wide a standard bee can fly:
Whereas currently approved GMO crops such as corn and soybeans are annual crops, alfalfa is a perennial crop that is pollinated by bees. Bees have a 4-6 mile radius, and could easily spread the GMO pollen to organic alfalfa fields, thereby contaminating it. It seems that the USDA is firmly in the camp of Monsanto, approving the sale of the crop without adequate testing of the effects of such a move.
What has and what is Stonyfield currently doing to fight the usage of Genetically Modified Organisms?
Not once did Stonyfield consider buying what Monsanto was selling – nor will we ever. We have never wavered from our position in defending organic and opposing GE crops. Back in the 1990’s we went head to head with Monsanto over synthetic growth hormones and we were the first US dairy to pay farmers not to use rBGH. We have been fighting them ever since, and will continue to do so. In the days since this very sad decision, we have convened multiple times with our fellow organic advocates and have already begun to plan and invest in our next wave of legal, lobbying and educational efforts.
From here we can learn what we as the general public can do to help in this fight against GMO monstrosities. For one, we can avoid eating them whenever possible — this happens when you buy organic and / or from your local organic farmer’s market. Secondly, tell your friends and family how you feel about GMO and if you care about what they eat. This doesn’t have to be a losing battle.
This is a wonderful article, Gordon. The warnings are dire and true. Why does it always come down to money and convenience instead of just doing the right thing?
Sadly, the right thing is often not as profitable!