Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Biotech...Advancing Our Food?

Currently on my nightstand is a book entitled Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food by Daniel Charles. I am about one-third of the way though and already have learned much about the actual history of biotechnology.

I fully understand that there are many well-intentioned scientists who truly believed they were doing the world a service. I just don't believe they were able to see the larger picture at the time and the financial gain was mighty enticing for the corporate world.

The European Union does not allow GMO's (or Genetically Modified Organisms) into their food without the label clearly stating so. The U.S. has no such regulation. This means that everything you eat may be genetically-modified and you would never know. The only way around this is to find a farmer you trust, stop buying anything processed, purchase only organic (we'll talk more about this) or grow your own food as GMO's are found in more than 80% of foods sold in conventional grocery stores.

So, if the FDA and the powers that be have declared GMO's GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe), why did the Europeans demand labelling? A recent study may confirm what the Europeans have already suspected--that there may be health risks with consuming GMO's.

Our health may only last 120 years or so, but the health of our planet is also a factor. By producing things like Bt corn and other Roundup Ready crops, we create a monoculture that is not easily halted. Once one crop becomes dominant, we begin to lose heirloom varieties and with seed patenting in full swing, our options will be limited. This is true regardless of GMO's, however, simply because of our obsession with growing vast fields of corn, soybeans, and canola, but the GMO factor does nothing to help the situation. As an aside, much of this doesn't even go into our food.

Ultimately, we are responsible to nurture the planet we have been given. The intricacies of nature are so beyond our understanding, that, in my opinion, we are not able to improve upon Mother Nature.

I did say I would address GMO's and organic, grocery store food, so here it is...there are only 4 USDA Organic inspectors for the entire country. You do the math and see if you trust that all the companies growing USDA certified organic are using organic practices. I will tell you that I have seen with my own eyes that this is not the case.

I guess I have begun to ramble, but my point is that we should at the very least know if we are consuming GMO's. We deserve a choice!


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