Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm confused

(I apologize for the length of this post but I hope you read it to the end.)

Some of my readers may be aware of the battle going on in California over proposition 37, the effort to force food manufacturers to label their products that contain GMO foods and their derivatives as such, the most common of which are corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and cotton. New GMO foods are being introduced all the time and at an alarming rate.

The main modification, and by modification I don't mean hybridization but genetic manipulation, adding genes to the genetic code of a plant from a totally alien source, is to cause these foods to contain in themselves pesticides and herbicides. The stated purpose being to make stronger and more resistant food crops that need less pesticide and herbicide applications or more drought tolerant. Sounds great only it doesn't really work. Farmers are finding they need to use more and more herbicides and pesticides because we all know Nature will breed a stronger weed or bug in response and in this case, she has. It does however, cause us to ingest these poisons.

Monsanto, the company that brought us Round Up and Agent Orange among other highly toxic substances is the main company behind the ruining of our food supply. I'm not going to go into all the dangers here or how they paid off the FDA to allow these foods without any testing or the backroom deal they made with the Bush administration or the independent tests that have shown that being far from safe, these foods cause infertility, accelerated aging, allergies, obesity, and compromised immune systems among other things. We are already suffering from the hormones in meat and we know many of these effects don't peak for several generations so it's our children and our grandchildren we are damaging by eating these foods.

I encourage everyone to do their own research and not to trust any tests or research that comes from Monsanto or any of their affiliates. You can hardly expect them to publish any information that puts their own products in a bad light. We also know from experience that they aren't above doctoring the results of their research.

You might recall we were told cigarettes were safe by the tobacco companies even though they knew all along they weren't. We were told plastic was safe but now we know that plastic leaches heinous chemicals into our food and bodies and in pregnant women are passed to the fetus. We were told flame retardant chemicals were safe but now we know that those chemicals leach into our bodies as well. We were told pesticides wouldn't affect us but they were wrong. We were told artificial colors and flavors and preservatives in our food were safe and now our food has become a chemical soup and is killing us. We were told to use anti-bacterial agents on everything to be healthy but all it did was compromise our immune systems and attacks our muscle function. And with the rise of all these chemicals in our food and environment, there has been a corresponding rise in autism, allergies, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and a host of other ailments.

50 countries either ban or require labeling of GMO foods. The United States is not one of them.

This is all very important but it's not really what my post is about because I'm not at all confused about GMOs. I am definitely against them and want the US to ban them. At the very least, I want them to be labeled so that I can avoid eating them.

Not surprisingly, the Big Food companies are donating millions of dollars to the fight against labeling, against prop 37 in California, not because, as they say, it would be too costly to change labels. That is belied by the money they are willing to spend to fight it. They are fighting labeling because they know that they would lose a substantial amount of revenue. Recent polls have shown that 70% of the population wants these foods labeled and/or out of the food supply altogether.

Also not surprisingly, organic foods which started out as a 'hippy dippy' thing have hit the mainstream. As people become more educated about what is being done to their food, the demand for organic and natural foods has been rising steadily and is now the fastest rising market sector.

And again not surprisingly, proponents of prop 37 and of labeling in general have called for boycotts of the companies who are donating money to fight against it and this is where my confusion lies.

Because some of the donors, and big donors, also have organic and no-GMO divisions. I have no idea how Big Food (Dean, Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg, Cargill to name a few) came by their organic businesses. I don't know if they were bought by hook or by crook or if they originated with the parent company. But I am satisfied that they make available a choice I can feel can good about buying or at least not be fearful of buying.

Some pro-labeling and no-GMO groups are calling for a boycott, not of the tainted foods of these companies that have donated large sums to fight prop 37, but their organic and no-GMO divisions.


Well, the assumption I guess, is that you weren't buying the GMO products already but this just doesn't make sense to me. These are the products we want. I understand that a portion of their profits go to the parent company and that the parent company uses those profits to fight labeling. On the other hand, some of their profits also go to support national organic and no-GMO initiatives and if we make these divisions unprofitable, how long do you think those products will remain available to us? Not everyone lives in an area where there are small or family owned organic alternatives. So if we won't eat the GMO foods and we aren't supposed to eat the organic and no-GMO foods available to us that are owned by these big companies, what the hell are we supposed to eat?

It makes more sense to me to boycott the GMO foods (which is just about everything on your grocer's shelves) and buy the organic and no-GMO. You know, carrot, stick. Let them know what kind of food we want by what we buy. When the other stuff stops selling, perhaps they will be more inclined to get rid of the GMO food.

You don't get very good results when you only use the stick. Not with animals, not with children or adults, and I doubt it works any better against a company. When they see where their profit and loss originates, that is how they will be persuaded. Unless of, course, our government actually grows a pair and stands up for the people for a change, and not their handlers, and bans them altogether.

In the meantime, of course, it's always better to buy from a smaller operation when you have the choice. And that goes for buying any product, not just food, from a small business or family owned operation or artist.


  1. If you shop at Whole Foods, you can be assured you will not be buying GMO foods. They do their homework and have helped pass many of the organic laws in the U.S.

    It's a good company and yes it's expensive. They are good to their employees, they donate to charities and to their community. It's worth every penny.

  2. The closest Whole Foods is about 45 minutes away. The closest organic department in a grocery store is about 35 minutes away.

  3. Wow, scary. We buy our food from the local mom and pop store, and most of the meats and veggies (in the summer, at least) come from local farms, so we're pretty sure of what we're eating most of the time. Still, we do eat some prepackaged foods, and it makes you wonder what all that stuff is doing to our bodies.

  4. Good post - I'm sure you know our shop was an organic grocery so I am a little obsessed with sourcing etc - plus grow a lot of what I eat, and never (hand on heart) eat pre-packaged stuff. It takes a little longer to prepare a meal but I know what it is I'm shovelling in!

    I am astounded/shocked/horrified by how much the US is governed by big business and just how much power they wield over there.

  5. We don't eat pre-packaged food either, never have, didn't raise my kids on them either. Always fresh and home prepared. But we do buy things like bread, mayonnaise, salad dressing, coffee, things like that.

  6. thank you for taking time to educate me (and others) about this topic. if nothing else, i am more aware of what GMO is.

  7. It's hard to believe they can plausibly argue that providing more information to the consumer is a bad thing. (At least, it would be difficult to make that argument of the regulators were doing their jobs.)

    We buy our produce at the Portobello Road market, but it's not all local, I'm sure. (We get mangos there, after all.)

  8. Much food for thought here.. so to speak. I think a lot of folks are gravitating to organic food lately. GMO foods are pretty scary.

  9. It's the same old advice: vote with your feet, vote with your money. It's the only way to get business to listen.

    Unfortunately there aren't that many intelligent people about who pay attention to what they eat.

  10. came back to say congrats on your POTW! i'm glad hilary picked it up!

  11. GMO has stirred up a lot of controversy here in the Willamette Valley. There are some extreme views on either end.

    My own tendency is to be very cautious of this kind of tinkering with genetics.


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.