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Mariah Kate Geiger's Blog

The Future of Food

created at: 2012/01/10Guys, I just watched a terrifying movie about scientific experiments spreading far beyond their intended uses and wreaking havoc on the Earth.  While this was happening, the makers of the technology monopolized the industry and even got into influential positions in the government, allowing the technology to continue to take over the Earth.

No, this isn’t the latest sci-fi flick.  This movie was a pretty scary documentary called The Future of Food.  Which means, yes, the basics of the above idea are really happening.  And the details described aren’t the half of it. 

So what’s so scary?  Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs.  They are a big part of why the industrial agriculture system is so messed up. There's a lot to this issue, but I'll sum it up for you as best I can.

This all got started with monocultures, or industrial farms planting lots of one crop in one big area.  The lack of diversity makes it easier for pests and weeds to invade and harm the crops, requiring more insecticides, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.  The problem is that herbicides will usually kill anything green, including the plants that the farmers intend to grow. 

A company called Monsanto solved this problem by adding a bacterium into corn seed cells that is resistant to their pesticide, Roundup, so when the corn is sprayed, it does not die.  This means the company that sells you the herbicide also sells you the seed.  Not only that, but Monsanto has a patent on their genetically modified seed, which is controversial. 

The US patent office formerly did not allow life to be patented, and this makes sense.  Once a seed is in nature, it can cross with non-genetically modified crops, or be transported to another field by an animal or the wind and contaminate non-genetically modified fields.  Worst yet, the farmers that have these genetically modified plants in their fields unintentionally can be taken to court and forced to pay huge sums of money for violating patent laws.

This system is hugely profitable for companies and has led to the patenting of many genetically modified seeds beyond Roundup Ready corn.

GMOs are unpredictable for more than this reason.  When companies put a new gene into a seed, they also put an antibiotic marker system into the seed to make sure the trait that they want to express is being expressed.  This antibiotic marker system has not been tested for the impact it has on the effectiveness of antibiotics.  Since antibiotics are becoming less effective because of overuse and their prevalence in our food system, this is potentially very dangerous to our future ability to fight bacterial illnesses.

Few tests have been done on the health effects of GMOs in research labs, because genetically modified food is considered to be equivalent to non-genetically modified food.  However, a study found rats fed genetically modified potatoes to have depressed immune systems and growth, and FDA scientists warn that GMOs in food may cause allergic reactions, create immune problems, have lower nutritional value, and harm the environment.  When monarch butterfly caterpillars were fed genetically modified corn pollen, 40 percent died unexpectedly.

Research that calls GMOs into question is also uncommon because GMOs are purported to be the way of the future.  Pro-GMO propaganda wants consumers to believe that GMOs could solve world hunger by making farming more effective.  But GMO crops are actually proven to have lower yield than regular crops, and world agriculture already grows enough food to feed the Earth's population and then some.  The problem is that the poorest of people cannot get access to that food.  New crops don't solve this problem.  In addition, plans are in the works for new seeds that require the spraying of a chemical BEFORE they germinate, and for seeds that will “commit suicide” after one planting, so you cannot save the seed.  These technologies could be catastrophic in terms of access to food in a system that is already messed up.

So GMOs are a problem.  But what can we do against companies that are so big and have so much influence?  It turns out, lots. 

The best way to track the health effects of GMOs would be to require that genetically modified ingredients in food be labeled.  All the countries in the European Union require this type of labeling.  The US does not, though 80-90% of consumers support it, possibly because many Monsanto higher-ups go back and forth between government positions and positions at the company.  A bill for labeling of GMOs in food has been introduced every year since 2003, but has not yet been voted on.  You can send letters to your senators and representatives, asking them to support this bill and make sure it is brought to the table, and you can tell the FDA that you want GMOs labeled through the Just Label It campaignhttp://justlabelit.org/.

In addition, since the industries are out to make money, we as consumers still rule.  If we choose alternatives to genetically modified foods, companies will lose profits, and money talks. 

Things you can eat instead of genetically modified, also called genetically engineered, foods-

-food from your local farmers market

-food from a Community Supported Agriculture provider

-food that is USDA certified organic (which cannot include GMOs).

You can also get the word out to your friends.  The biggest problem with GMOs is that many people aren't aware that they are eating them every day.  When people understand this and the possible health and environmental impacts of their food choices, our movement grows stronger. 

As the documentary says, and as I have chosen for my quotation of the week, “The choices we make at the supermarket determine the future of food.”

If you want to learn more (and there is so much more), you can check out the whole documentary for free.  Hit this link- http://www.thefutureoffood.com/onlinevideo.html.  It is definitely worth watching.  It covers the farm crisis, global impact of genetically engineered foods, the crazy companies and lawsuits in depth, and other genetic engineering that could happen in the future, including genetically modified animals, if we don’t stand up to this industry.  It truly is up to us.  Let’s do this, guys!

Love and Smiles,

Mariah Kate

 

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Mariah Kate Geiger
Mariah Kate Geiger (Featured writer)
Name: Mariah Kate Geiger Age: 18 Hometown: Lakeville/Farmington School: Farmington High School graduate...
Member since 07/07/07
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