We just got new license plates, need we say more? March 07 2013

 

  

Actually yes, I think we should say more. Much more. 

When I applied to get these plates a couple weeks ago, I really did not think they would be available and came up with multiple alternate plates for the application. I got my top choice. I figure there are a few possible reasons for this. 

  1. There are angels looking out for me that really want to help me succeed (this would be great because it would mean the 14 hour days will finally start paying off!) 
  2. I am way ahead of the curve on the GMO issue
  3. Not enough people really care. (I have to mention that I found patent numbers on seed packages being distibuted at a Seedy Saturday recently which bothered me greatly). For anyone who hasn't been to one, a Seedy Saturday is sort of like a farmers market that sells seeds, seedlings honey etc as well as offers people the opportunity to trade seeds from their gardens so it usually attracts more experienced gardeners.

The one possibility that disturbs me is number 3. And I really need to address this.

I get that this is a daunting and time consuming issue to educate yourself on, but, for me, I think my children and future grand children are worth the effort. I encourage you to read up on the subject of genetically modified food crops from sources more knowlegeble than me but I will do my best to explain how I understand the process of genetic modification and my fears and opinions regarding GMO foods below.

In genetic modification (or engineering) of food plants, scientists remove one or more genes from the DNA of another organism, such as a bacterium, virus, or animal, and “recombine” them into the DNA of the plant they want to alter. This is different from hybridization which is the combining of seeds and pollens from two different plants (this can happen naturally). There are some very persuasive people who believe that genetic modification of plants is a good thing because they believe that it will really help increase productivity and feed the world.

I have differing opinions and am not prepared to agree just because big corporations want me to.

Over the last 80 years the number of seed varieties available has dropped by almost 93% in some crops. This is why I am a huge proponent of seed saving and maintaining seed diversity. In fact I just bought one of the last packages I could find of Cranes Melon (with 25 seeds).

Genetically modified seeds are patented - this means farmers (or anyone) who buy GMO seeds can be sued if they use the seeds that come from the plants they grow with GMO seeds (aka seed saving). So every harvest requires a purchase of new seeds. This can significantly increase the cost of seed to farmers since historically they were able to save money by using seeds from previous crops and adding new seed as needed. In fact there have been farmers sued because the pollen from neighbouring farms growing GMO crops contaminated their non-GMO crops. The argument is they infringed on the patent. (For more on this google Percy Schmeiser and Rodney Nelson.) I am not sure how farmers are supposed to keep pollen from crossing fences. Seems to me bees rarely recognise man made boundaries. Read about one Canadian farmers fight here http://www.percyschmeiser.com/conflict.htm  To add a little salt to the wound, organic famers risk losing their organic status if GMO pollen is introduced into their fields by bees, birds or wind. 

But the tides may be turning. Here is a link to a recent lawsuit against Monsanto: http://princevega.com/2013/02/18/monsanto-slapped-with-a-7-7-billion-lawsuit-by-5-million-farmers/

GMO proponents will say, yes, farmers have to buy more seeds from the same source but the seeds they get are impervious to select popular herbicides (coincidentally made by the same company that created the GMO seeds) so farmers can spray to eliminate weeds without harming the crop plants which means less labor is required for weeding.

Hmm, seems to me that Darwin's theory of evolution may throw a kink into this theory. Many plants and organisms evolve to overcome challenges to their survival. Here is a non-plant example. Every year there are new flu bugs that require the development of a new flu vaccine. This is because the flu virus is constantly changing to adapt to antibodies trying to kill it off through “antigenic drift.” This means people vaccinated the previous year may not have antibodies to combat the new flu virus. I have seen some recent information on the internet that would indicate that weeds are adapting and becoming impervious to the herbicides they are sprayed with. This will mean a new kind of herbicide will have to be developed in order to keep weeds at bay which will likely mean new GMO crops will have to be developed. I have concerns about whether companies will put in the time and resources to ensure these new GMO crops do not have adverse effects on humans, animals or the environment. Especially if the weeds start adapting at a faster rate.

GMO crops have also been developed so that the plants have built in insecticides. Personally I do not want to feed my kids corn that makes the stomachs of insects explode without absolute proof that it will not be found to cause harm to my children now, or after 10 or 20 years of consumption. As well, are beneficial insects (like bees) immune to the insecticidal effects? 

I want to mention that there are some naturally evolved plants that have insecticidal properties. Up until the 1940's when synthetic pesticides were introduced, plants had been used for thousands of years to ward off insects. There are also carnivorous plants that can help keep insects at bay too. I found a fascinating article on this http://ipmworld.umn.edu/chapters/SilviaAguayo.htm. I might add that just because they are naturally evolved does not mean their insecticidal properties are harmless to people. There are numerous highly toxic plants we should all be aware of.

Again I would wonder how much study will go into what long term effects these new GMO plants with built in herbicides and insecticides might have on humans. Especially given that one of the most well known companies that has a patent on these seeds also manufactured DDT and agent orange too.

I copied these exerpts from Wikipedia (I invite you to read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_orange and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT ):

"The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that up to 1 million people are disabled or have health problems due to Agent Orange." 

In 1962, Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson was published. The book catalogued the environmental impacts of the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the US and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health. The book suggested that DDT and other pesticides may cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was one of the signature events in the birth of the environmental movement, and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led to DDT being banned in the US in 1972.[5] DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention, but its limited use in disease vector control continues to this day and remains controversial.[6][7]

Along with the passage of the Endangered Species Act, the US ban on DDT is cited by scientists as a major factor in the comeback of the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, from near-extinction in the contiguous US.[8]

And what of the bees and frogs? Bees are incredibly important for pollination of the fruits and vegetables we eat, let alone the health benefits of real honey. And frogs, known to be harbingers of our environmental health, are disappearing at an alaming rate.

There are also concerns about GMO foods causing inflamation, increased allergies, and even autism which is on the rise. How many people are effected by eating wheat today. (I am one of them - when I eat wheat my ankles swell noticibly - I suffered cankles for years before I figured it out because raising 4 growing boys often meant making meals with pasta or sandwiches to help fill them up.) I copied an exerpt from the Institute for Responsible Technology ( http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks ) below :

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

Even if you think that GMO food are perfectly healthy, think about this. The number of fruit and vegetable seed varieties has dropped by up to 92% in some cases. So what do you think will happen to food prices if there is a monopoly on seeds that can be used to grow foods. (Just think of the pricing difference between generic prescription drugs and name brands that do not have a generic version.)

I highly recommend to everyone that you do some research and come up with your own opinions and decisions as how you want to feed yourself and your family. I certainly do not want to rely on what the government or big food corporations tell me. Apparently higher ups and leaders of past generations were also known to put pesticide control above the value of human life - one of the earliest known approaches to pest control was human sacrifice. This was also thought to be a cure for drought.