photo: J. Novak
After reports last week that India halted plans to introduce a genetically modified eggplant to the market because of an outcry from environmental groups and the general public, it begs to question why in the US genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are so common. In fact, more than 9 out of 10 soybean seeds are not only genetically modified, but come from Monsanto. It's just a little lower for corn. It makes you wonder why Americans aren't a little more skeptical, if not completely frightened of the fate of our food system.
Last week the Times of India reported that Jairam Ramesh, the country's environment minister, said there is no clear consensus among scientists on the safety of a genetically modified eggplant and, therefore, halted its release. And Europe is just as skeptical. The European Parliament adopted the world's strictest and most comprehensive rules on the labeling of GMOs. Egypt also has strict rules on GMOs. Collin wrote extensively about GMOS around the world. But here in the US, the picture is a little different. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a bill which specifies that the US must fund GMOs and biotechnology. Even without this additional push in the wrong direction, we have already ventured a long way down a GMO road.
Currently, Monsanto's Roundup Ready corn crops and herbicide resistant soybean crops, have wreaked havoc on the agricultural system causing soil erosion, nitrate leeching, and water contamination.
Why Aren't Americans Scared of GMOs?
It's in a majority of the processed foods that we eat in the form of high fructose corn syrup or soy. GMOs have a scary monopoly over our food system and we have yet to know the full extent of the problems that will come in the future. So why aren't Americans more skeptical? Well, to start off, pricey marketing hides these unhealthy foods in very pretty wrapping paper. The Corn Refiners Association released a $30 million marketing campaign that claims that high fructose corn syrup has the "same natural sweeteners as table sugar and honey." But in reality most corn is grown as a monoculture and large monocultures are usually genetically modified. Not to mention the health risks associated with high fructose corn syrup.
Additionally, we aren't as culturally connected to our food as Italians, French, and other cultures. We are instead, more connected to science than that of food. It's for this reason that we view food as the enemy. A substance that makes us fat, rather than what it should be, nutrient dense and meant to sustain us. Instead science (though I'm not saying science doesn't have its place) has taken over the food system. Instead of listening to what our bodies need and eating all whole foods to supply ourselves with nutrients, we choose processed junk that makes scientific claims to be enhanced with calcium, protein, and vitamins. Stripping foods of nutrients and then trying to add them back into foods does not a healthy body make. And the mega-corporations that have taken over our food industry make purchasing high quality whole foods more and more difficult.
A Step in the Right Direction
I wrote a while back about the NON GMO Project in the US. The NON GMO Project scientifically tests all of the individual ingredients that make up a product using a third party testing facility. Products that have been certified are labeled with a NON GMO Project Verified label. In the mean time, stick to whole organic foods that you can ensure are for the most part not modified like local and/or organic fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. Skip the processed foods unless they are certified by the NON GMO Project.
More on GMOS:
Why GMO Foods Have Failed at Producing Healthy Food for More People
Arguments Against GMOs (and Industrial Agriculture)
Out, Monsanto! No GMOs in National Wildlife Refuge, Says Federal Judge
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Why Other Countries Are Scared of GMOs and We're Not
Why Other Countries Are Scared of GMOs and We're Not : TreeHugger