Monsanto Company Profile part II of IV

Monsanto is a new company. No longer a chemical company, the new Monsanto is an agricultural company, a leader in biotech and GMO technology. Their pledge begins with these words:

We want to make the world a better place for future generations. As an agricultural company, Monsanto can do this best by providing value through the products and systems we offer to farmers.”

 

 

Sustainable Yield Initiative

Monsanto states its goal is to increase yields while maintaining or reducing inputs of energy and pesticides through the use of genetically modified crops. Monsanto’s Sustainable Yield Initiative puts forth a goal to double crop yields in corn, soy, and cotton by the year 2030, from the baseline year, 2000. “That’s in countries that have bio-technology, that have adapted that,” says Brad Mitchell, Director of Public Affairs. “And do that using 1/3 less inputs, so nitrogen, water, etcetera… And by doubling those yields we will improve farmer’s lives because more yield means more money in their pockets, and profitability increases.”

Mitchell brags that their biotech is “…skill neutral technology. A farmer in the middle of Iowa will use it and then you can also have a farmer in Argentina use it and it will yield pretty well. It’s something that both can use on their farm no matter how much–if he has 500 acres or 5 acres, they both benefit.”

Monsanto’s biotech seeds are patented. Farmers are not allowed to retain patented seeds from a crop. Each season they are required to purchase new seeds. For this, Monsanto has come under attack, with critics claiming this practice to be unnatural and unsustainable. Mitchell says, “… a lot of people make a big deal about Monsanto patentingseeds, and how this is going to lead to control over the seed supply and that sort of thing. I have two responses to that. One is, first, patenting of seeds is not new and it’s not unique to either Monsanto or biotech. And if you don’t believe me, go google raspberry and patents and see what you come up with. There are plenty of patent varieties of raspberries out there, and everything from asparagus to zucchini. Basically if people Genetic Modification didn’t have the ability to patent the result of their breeding, there would be no incentive for them to do so.”

Mitchell continues, “The other part of it that I find a little bit amusing and a little bit disheartening is that when people say, ‘Oh well, you can’t save patented seeds. This is the end of the world.’ Well, we’ve had hybrid seeds in production and available to farmers for just about 70 years. And with the vast majority of hybrid seeds, you can’t save those either. And nobody’s made a big deal about that. And the reason you can’t save hybrids, some of them are patented, but more importantly, the offspring seed doesn’t have the genetic consistency of the parent, so no farmer will ever save a hybrid seed because they are not going to know what they are getting. Farmers who have had hybrid seed available for over 70 years they choose them because namely because they give better yields. Some of them have some other traits that they appreciate.”

Due to patent protection and patent infringement investigations, Monsanto employs a number of investigators. Mr. Mitchell could not tell us the exact number, but he estimates the number to be around 40. “And those aren’t all full time, doing this for us, they’re private investigator firms, so a good part of the year they’re not doing save-seed stuff, they’re doing other whatever else investigators do. These are private firms.”

Lawsuits Against Farmers

In films that criticize Monsanto and their relationship with farmers, Monsanto is accused of using their investigators and lawsuits to harass and intimidate. Mitchell says that out of half a million customers, Monsanto has filed 138 lawsuits for patent infringement and nine went to trial; the others settled out of court.

“Now, we kind of have to do this for three reasons,” Mitchell says. “One is we’re not going to make any money if people aren’t buying our products. I mean there’s the patent infringement issue. Two is we owe it to our stockholders, because they invest in this. And a good part of it is, you know, frankly, we put ten percent of our money into research and development, so the third part of this is really if people are getting this technology without paying for it, we’re not going to be able to do that. And we’re not going to see the state of technology today…probably a lot of your readership would like that but not necessarily a lot of the farmers out there.”

“So we’ve got about half a dozen people who have claimed that we have committed these misdeeds. I don’t see it. I was actually outat a farm the other day and we had a seed patent investigation in the neighborhood, and he goes, ‘You know, my neighbor is really upset with you guys. He’s furious with how you handledthis seed patent infringement case.’ (Against the farmer we had a case against and we settled.)’ And I said,’Uh-oh. What’s his problem? And he said, ‘He doesn’t think you went after enough.’ So what we typically hear from farmers is, “Look, I gotta pay for it. Yeah, I’d rather not pay for it and I’d rather not pay for gasoline or my taxes either, but if I’m going to do it, the other guy better, too, because it’s not fair.” Farmers who have
settled cases with Monsanto have said they cannot discuss the terms of the settlements, that Monsanto insisted on non-disclosure clauses. Mitchell insists the opposite is true, that the farmers were the ones who asked for the non-disclosures. “Unfortunately what’s happened is that people have turned that against us and said, ‘Well, Monsanto requested these.’ We don’t request nondisclosure and we never have. We, in the past, have agreed to it, but we don’t do it anymore for that very reason.”    The money from all of the settlements has been donated to agricultural charities and scholarships. “The ones that actually went through full trial [9 cases], we do retain that, mainly because trials are expensive.”

Human Rights

Hugh Grant, Monsanto Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, is quoted on Monsanto’s website. He states, “As an agricultural and technology company committed to human rights, we have a unique opportunity to protect and advance human rights. We have a responsibility to consider not only how our business can benefit consumers, farmers, and food processors, but how it can protect the human rights of both Monsanto’s employees and our business partners’ employees.”

Monsanto identifies nine elements in its human rights policy: child labor, forced labor, compensation, working hours, harassment and violence, discrimination, safety, freedom of association, and legal compliance.

Forced, indentured, or bonded labor is unacceptable to Monsanto and Monsanto rejects corporal punishment of any type. Compensation is to meet or exceed minimum wage standards, regardless of performance measures. Monsanto states they will comply with all laws and industry standards with regard to working hours. Harassment, violence, and discrimination will never be tolerated. Monsanto is committed to safety, to the rights of workers to join or not join organizations of their choosing, to associate
freely and bargain collectively. And last but not least, Monsanto states that it “will comply with all applicable local, state and national laws regarding human rights and workers’ rights where the company does business.”

While Monsanto supports young people working within the agricultural business, it wants to ensure that all applicable local, state, and national laws are followed and that none of its business partners practice exploitive child labor practices. To this end, in India Monsanto has added “no child labor” clauses into farmer and third party contracts, has instigated a massive farmer awareness campaign with posters, door to door visits, leaflets, postcards, field audits 10-12 times during the 45-60 pay pollination period (auditors conducted more than 10,000 field visits in 2007), and written farm attendance reports.

Monsanto has also employed incentive/disincentive schemes, paying farmers an incentive if they employ only adult labor. If a farmer is found to be in violation, the child(ren) are removed from the field, the farmer becomes ineligible for incentives, and Monsanto discontinues production with the farmer the following year. The Monsanto Fund, established in 1964, gives funds to communities in the United States and around the world in the company’s areas of  operations, including a residential learning center for child laborers, in a further effort to stop the practice of using child labor.

In 2007, The Monsanto Fund pledged 12.6 million to numerous causes around the world.

In our final report on Monsanto, we will discuss seed monopolies, Indian farmer suicides, conflicting reports on crop yields, Roundup safety, and bans on GM crops.

Click here to read part III

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Sugar and Testosterone

Just say the words gonads, testosterone or any of the unprintable slang associated with testicles, sex, and male virility and you’ll get a laugh or at least amused looks. Now, say those words again, but in a context that says, “You’re going to lose that capability, son,” and watch what happens. The collective scream you hear is shrill enough to replace the air raid sirens America abandoned in the 1980s.

New research so fresh that it hasn’t yet appeared in a journal article says flat out that eating sugar reduces testosterone levels in the blood by up to 25 percent across the board. The researchers found 74 men at Massachusetts General Hospital with a range of tolerances to glucose (42 normal blood sugar, 23 impaired glucose tolerance “prediabetic” and 9 actually with Type-2 Diabetes) and gave them 75g of a glucose solution. In many cases, the effect lasted at least 2 hours after ingestion and affected all types of men in the study. Of 66 men listed as having normal testosterone levels in a fasting state before the test, 10 developed a hypogonadal (low testosterone) state at some point during the two hours of the test.i

The actual intent of the research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association was to refine testing methods for low testosterone levels. Current methodology says to test the man in the morning on two different days and get an average reading to see if the man is truly hypogondal or if the low testosterone will pick up later. So far, no one has said that a man should fast before taking the blood test—until now.

The link between sugar, insulin, obesity, diabetes, the metabolic syndrome and testosterone levels had been touched on in other research that has come out recently. Only these researchers worked backwards relative to this new study; they took people with known elements of the metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity, and heart disease) and tested their testosterone levels. Many subjects had low testosterone.

In recent research conducted in Berlin, the conclusion read in part “Lower total testosterone and sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG) predict a higher incidence of the metabolic syndrome…Administration of testosterone to hypogondal men reverses the unfavorable risk profile for the development of diabetes and atherosclerosis.”ii

In Finland where similar research is regularly conducted the researchers came up with this gem: “Low total testosterone and SHBG levels independently predict development of the metabolic syndrome and diabetes in middle-aged men. Thus, hypoandrogenism (hypogondal) is an early marker for disturbances in insulin and glucose metabolism that may progress to the metabolic syndrome or frank diabetes.” iii

It seems that these previous studies were waiting for someone else to have a “The Emperor Seems Naked” moment and try out the inverse of their results in which you give sugar to mostly healthy people and see what happens. No longer should low testosterone be considered just a symptom of the metabolic syndrome, but as what both are…a result of too much sugar in our diet.

We at Nancy Appleton Books have already touched on sugar causing the metabolic syndrome in previous articles like 140 Reasons Why Sugar Ruins Your Health. In it we make simple declarative statements about many of sugar’s ill effects:

  • Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose.iv
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.viii
  • Sugar can lead to obesity.v
  • Sugar can cause heart disease.vii
  • Sugar can cause metabolic
  • syndrome.viii

One way sugar lowers testosterone is through its effect on the adrenal glands.ix
Sugar taxes the adrenal glands and these glands interrelate with the sex hormone glands (testes and ovaries) that produce testosterone and estrogen.x

These ailments listed above are elements of and highly associated with the metabolic syndrome, which we have linked to the excessive intake of sugar. The research in Massachusetts says that sugar causes low testosterone. Similar research around the world says that low testosterone is highly associated with the various elements of the metabolic syndrome. So how many times do we have to enjoy the circular logic before we simply say that sugar causes both the low testosterone and the ailments in the metabolic syndrome? Put more simply, sugar kills in a multitude of ways and this one affects men where they really live, in the bedroom.

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Miracle Berry

The miracle berry or miracle fruit is a little red berry that changes the way our taste buds respond to acids. When a berry is chewed, the tongue becomes coated with a protein called miraculin. Miraculin alters the taste buds for 30 minutes to two hours causing lemon juice to taste sweet and goat cheese tastes like cheesecake. Even Tabasco sauce tastes like a sugar glaze.

Miracle fruit is not new. West African tribes have been eating these berries for hundreds of years and they have been known by the West for nearly 300 years.

In the 1970s the Miralin Company tried to bring miracle fruit products to the U.S. market. Initial conversations with the FDA were favorable for approving miracle fruit under the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) Category, the category used by the FDA for foods that have a long history of being eaten with no deleterious side effects. Since miracle berries had been eaten for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, they clearly met the requirements for this approval. But as the time neared for the FDA’s final ruling, strange events occurred. Miralin employees reported they were followed home by strange cars. Their offices were photographed. Files were stolen in a break-in. Anonymous articles were printed in a Jamaican newspaper (where the company owned berry farms) bashing the company and the product. Within weeks Miralin’s request for GRAS status was denied. The Miralin Company never did succeed in bringing miracle fruit products to market. Due to the FDA ruling, the company folded. The FDA denies the claim that pressure from the artificial sweetener companies or the sugar industry led to their unfavorable ruling.

Today the miracle berry is once again gaining attention. Freeze dried tablets and fresh berries can be purchased through the Internet. Fresh berries sell for $2.00-$2.50 each and have a short shelf life. Freeze dried tables sell for around $15.00 for a pack of 18.

If these prices are too steep, consider growing your own. Miracle berry plants are an attractive leafy evergreen with shiny leaves, which can be grown in frost-free climates as well as indoors. If planted in the right soil and carefully tended, they will bear fruit within three years.

So, if you’re interested in taste-tripping, include miracle berries and a taste-treat buffet for your next party.




Raw Avocado Mushroom Burger Recipe

This recipe can be as simple or complex as you like. I prefer it to be simple. It’s become a staple meal for me when I’m on the road or camping because it’s so easy to put together.

It might look like a monster of a sandwich, but it’s actually quite light.

  • Ingredients for simple recipe:
  • 2 large portabello mushroom caps
  • 1/2 avocado (or more if you can fit it in)
  • 1/4 of an onion sliced
  • 1-2 slices of tomato
  • 1-2 leaves of some kind of lettuce
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce)

How to assemble:

  1. Raw Avocado Mushroom Burger RecipeCut the underside of the mushroom so that it’s as flat as possible.
  2. Scoop out half of the avocado and spread as best as possible on the underside of the mushroom.
  3. Squeeze lemon on avocado.
  4. Layer tomatoes, onions and lettuce on the avocado.
  5. Optional: If you decide to use the olive oil and nama shoyu, pour into the other mushroom cap.
  6. Place other mushroom cap on top and enjoy.



Salt is Good For You

Like fat, cholesterol, and sugar, many people believe salt is bad for us. It’s not. Salt is essential for body functions such as nerve cell communication, food absorption, and balancing sugar levels. What may surprise you is that most people in America (and in many other countries as well) do not eat enough salt. But we’re not talking about refined table salt. Like processed sugar, refined salt is void of nutrition, its minerals stripped away. Refined salt is an unhealthy nutrient-robbing, addictive, toxic substance. But the right kind of salt, unrefined sea salt, is an important source of minerals. The next time you purchase salt, buy unrefined, colorful sea salt and enjoy it guilt free.




Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com Discusses GMOs with OLM

OLM: Can you tell us a little about the history of the companies that are making GMOs? Who are they? What did they do before they made GMO foods?

Mike Adams: Well, I think Monsanto is one of the most dangerous corporations in the world. I think it has a long history of oppressing the farmers and oppressing developing nations and their farmers. I think it has put profits before the people time and time again to such a degree that it really poses a threat to the sustainability of the human race. That’s about as bluntly as I can state it. [chuckle]

OLM: Are there other companies doing what Monsanto does with GMOs?

Mike Adams: There are smaller companies toying with genetics in the same way, but no one has dominance over the industry like Monsanto. It virtually holds a monopolistic control over seeds. I imagine Arthur Daniel Midland would be next in line in terms of culpability for destroying the food supply, but I don’t know if ADM has a GMO lab or not. That would be interesting to check out.

OLM: We hear that Monsanto bought many seed companies. The FTC didn’t take notice of this action?

Mike Adams: It’s very clear that the FTC is highly selective in its application of anti-trade action. It totally ignores some monopolies such as the pharmaceutical monopoly or the seed monopoly while attacking other things that are beneficial to consumers. For example, the FTC will attack a church that sells anti-cancer herbs. I actually documented one of those cases, so I’ve seen it
firsthand. But the FTC completely ignores these monopolies, which are the most dangerous to human beings. I think that the food supply and the pharmaceutical industries are two of the best examples.

OLM: How did these foods get approved without testing? Wasn’t it true that many FDA scientists took issue with the foods not being tested?

Mike Adams: GRAS – generally regarded as safe. It’s sad. It’s hilarious, but sad. You’re right; there was no testing done. No safety testing, at least not to the degree any reputable scientist would agree to be adequate. Basically, they just swept it under the rug and pushed it through the approval process. They declared it to be safe by decree, you know? Like, “The king declares this poison to be safe.”  It’s kind of like the aspartame story—you know where Donald Rumsfeld was pivotal in getting aspartame approved by the FDA despite all the tests showing it to be dangerous. It just proves that decisions about the food supply are political decisions. They do not have anything to do with the actual science, or real safety, or prioritizing the health of the people. They are purely political/commercial decisions. That’s the sad state of the FDA today.

Why aren’t GMO foods labeled?

Mike Adams: It is very clear that the reason they are not labeled is because the industry does not want the consumers to know. This is a censorship campaign to prevent people from being informed. It’s the same reason that irradiated foods are not labeled. The FDA is on the record as saying that they are afraid people might not understand what irradiated means. It’s a remarkable statement all by itself.

OLM: Yeah, when in fact, the statement really means the opposite. They don’t want people to know. They don’t want us to understand.

Mike Adams: Industry is afraid of knowledge. It’s afraid of people being informed and having access to accurate knowledge about GMOs or irradiated foods, or even other toxic chemicals that are in the foods such as acrylamides. Essentially, the food industry supports a delabeling campaign. It wants to remove as much information as possible from the labels so consumers don’t have access to the information they need to make informed decisions.

OLM: Obviously there is an indirect link to the drug companies and the food industry. It seems as if they have made a deal to line each others’ pockets. It seems as though they’re working together.

Mike Adams: I think that’s a really great observation on your part. The food industry feeds the pharmaceutical industry in terms of profits. It’s the foods that make people sick; they cause chronic degenerative disease. So the foods create demand for the drugs, which are real profit centers. Of course these companies are making money off of foods as well, but GMOs fit into this picture in a very clever and insidious way. All the evidence so far shows that GMOs may pose a very real health threat to those who consume them. As you mention, that benefits the pharmaceutical industry by poisoning people, by creating patients who need pharmaceuticals or who can be diagnosed with diseases and sold pharmaceuticals whether they need them or not.

I think at the retail level Walgreens demonstrates it the best. Walgreens is a pharmacy, but it sells some of the most toxic processed junk food that you can find in America. In front of the store they sell foods that cause disease and in the back of the store they sell the drugs that they claim treat disease. It’s a system of toxicity. I have gone into the store to buy samples of processed
foods that I was sending to laboratories for testing. When I walk through the store I cannot believe the depth of the poisons that are in there: personal hair care products, fragrance, cosmetics, sodas, all the foods. Those stores should be completely shut down. They should be banned. They should be outlawed in this country. They are creating
a toxic America.

OLM: What was that quote about GMO consumers not being able to reproduce?

Mike Adams: What I talked about was that GMOs do damage to the ability to reproduce and as a result the future of the human race is going to be inherited by those who do not consume GMOs and who do not expose themselves to toxic chemicals like pharmaceuticals.

Along those lines I just want to clarify that especially in the natural health field, no one wishes death or suffering upon another human being. I’m not happy that unhealthy people die. But what I am pointing out is that they are making a choice. By consuming GMOs they are choosing not to have great- grandchildren. And that choice is given a label—it’s a Darwin Award [chuckle]. These people are all participating in this multi-generational or trans-generational Darwin award. And in the long term, it is probably a great benefit to the future of human civilization that the people who choose to consume poisons do not inherit the future of our race.

OLM: Is it true that executives from these companies are hired in top positions by the USDA and FDA?

Mike Adams: Yeah, definitely. That’s called the revolving door policy. You’ll see many examples of top managers or executives at drug and food companies who become top people at the FDA or the FTC or the USDA. They often go back and forth between the regulators and the industry several times.

OLM: And then they write the laws?

Mike Adams: Well, it’s not laws. They enforce regulations. Sometimes they write regulations. It’s important to distinguish between the two. Laws are passed only by the legislative branch, members of congress. But the USDA, the FDA and the FTC are essentially lawless regulatory agencies. They are not required to follow any law in their day-to-day decision making. They are above

the law. In fact they are violating the law. If you or I did what the FDA or the FTC did, we would be charged with felony crimes. We can’t just pick up an assault rifle and walk into a company that sells products we don’t like and seize all their computers and handcuff their people and march them off to prison. But that is what the FDA does on a regular basis. It’s a violation of law. It’s a violation of the constitution. So these are lawless organizations.

OLM: Does the president appoint the heads of the USDA and the FDA?

Mike Adams: Yes, the president does appoint the heads of those organizations without a public vote. That’s important to note. All that has to happen is that the senate confirms those appointments. The public is never given a chance to vote on them, so it’s bypassing the democratic system.

OLM: What do you think of Obama’s appointee for the Department of Agriculture?

Mike Adams: I’ve been following that on the Organic Consumers Association. Ronnie Cummins there has reported on that appointment with a lot of good details. I think clearly Obama’s siding with big business. He is going to continue the policies of Monsanto and he is not going to speak up for the people, for the farmers, you know. I see a lot of this with the Obama administration which is kinda frustrating because he came in under a platform of change, you know, talking about protecting the people. And certainly, of course, none of us wanted to see the Bush policies continue, at least not on human rights, and war, and all that. But then with Obama in office, not just for agriculture, but for the treasury, and many other areas, the policies are quite disturbing. They show that the Obama administration, at least through its appointments so far, is largely continuing business as usual, at least in my opinion. I’m optimistic that maybe there will be some changes, but you know, I don’t see any big changes so far, other than a whole lot of money being handed out. And that’s not change. That’s just the same old scam.

OLM: Are you keeping up with the new laws they are trying to pass?

Mike Adams: Ronnie Cummins would have a lot more detail on this, but I keep up with some of it. The big picture is very clear. They are working at federal and state levels to destroy small family farms, to destroy even the definition of organic so that anything could be called organic. They are the enemies of anyone who believes in sustainable agriculture or true organic foods.

OLM: What’s going on with GMOs in Europe?

Mike Adams: GMOs had been banned in certain parts of the U.K. I think that issue has come to the surface again with codex and the harmonization of the European Union. They’re trying to keep GMOs in the food supply. But the thing is, GMO labeling is now mandatory in the U.K. At least that’s my understanding of it. And U.K. citizens are much better informed about this issue than U.S. citizens. And in the U.K. they are very vocal in their opposition to GMO foods, as they should be. And it is in America that people have this kind of bizarre acceptance of whatever the government tells them to do. It’s like America has been drugged into a state of complacency. Pharmaceuticals and fluoride maybe have something to do with that.

OLM: What’s your take on Monsanto’s claims that GMOs are a better way to grow food, that they produce better yields and can help stop world hunger?

Mike Adams: Sure, it’s all about short-term thinking versus long-term thinking. Of course, Monsanto and ADM and other such companies are really focused on short term thinking. In the short-term, it’s true that a single planting of a genetically modified crop can out-produce a non-GMO crop. You look at that season and you weigh how much corn came out of the field and so on. But in the long term, what risks are there to the viability of the food supply? How do GMO organisms affect honey bees, for example? We have colony collapse disorder, which is really threatening the global food supply. We had the issue of cross pollination, cross contamination, which is a huge threat to the food supply.

These long-term threats are never factored into the equations that are being decided by Monsanto or these other companies. So they ignore the long-term risks and they just highlight and focus on the short-term benefits. And it is this kind of short-term thinking that could very well spell the destruction of human civilization as we know it today. All it would take is one year of crops being wiped out around the world due to monoculture farming, and perhaps genetically, GM contamination. One season of the food disappearing and the human population collapses by maybe 70 to 80 percent.

That’s a loss of billions of lives. That’s what’s at risk here. These companies are essentially putting billions of lives at risk in order to obtain a short-term profit.

OLM: What are your favorite GMO information sources?

Mike Adams: Well, definitely the Organic Consumers Association is a top source on this issue, but there is also the Environmental Working Group which is doing great work, although they don’t post as much content as the OCA.

Recommended Supplements (These supplements help detoxify GMOs):

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Avoid the Frankenfoods

One of the biggest controversies surrounding food in recent years is the entry of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our food system. If you don’t know about GMOs by now, here’s the concept in a nutshell: Genetically modified foods have had their DNA changed through genetic engineering, using advanced techniques to insert foreign genes (from such varied sources as bacteria and viruses) in order to enhance or change certain characteristics of the organism. The most common modified foods are derived from plants such as soybean, corn, canola, and cotton, but the list of GMOs also includes hormones given to dairy cattle (rbGH). Now even the animals themselves are being genetically engineered.

Supporters of genetic engineering say that modification of organisms on a genetic level is safe, and is similar to how conventional plant breeding has taken place for thousands of years. They also state that in order to gain efficiency in food production to feed the world, GM foods are necessary. The producers of these GMOs maintain that they are as safe as any other food, and have no negative effect on the people consuming them or the environment.

Critics of GMOs (including me) point out that no true trials or testing have been undertaken in order to prove the safety of these foods. In fact, adverse effects from consuming GMOs have been recorded, and because it’s such a new practice, the full results of releasing these unnatural organisms into the environment still remain to be seen. Since science can measure only what it targets, and the sheer number of variables in our natural environment is enormous, the possibility is great that many unintended consequences will occur through the use and consumption of GMOs.

Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of GMOs and the intermingling of foods in our food system during harvest, storage, and processing, most U.S. consumers have been eating genetically modified foods for years. Even those of us who focus on eating all organic probably have been ingesting these foods if we eat out or dine at someone’s house who isn’t as strict as we are with their food purchases. Some 60 to 70% of the products in a grocery store contain some type of genetically engineered ingredient, with the biggest offenders being soy, corn, canola oil, and cottonseed oil.

So why do companies like Monsanto (the world leader in genetic modification) pursue genetic engineering?

One claimed benefit is that using GM seeds increases crop yields and decreases the use of pesticides and herbicides for food production (hence the claim that GMOs will help feed the world). However, contrary to the information coming from the supporters of genetic engineering, studies have shown that just as many pesticides and herbicides are being applied to GM crops as non-GM crops, and in some cases at even higher quantities. For crops modified to be resistant to herbicides, farmers can spray even heavier without damaging the plants, leading to increased use of herbicides worldwide. These herbicides end up in our groundwater, and may also be present in food even after harvest and processing. A recent study sponsored by the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), published in Chemical Research in Toxicology journal, found that Roundup (glyphosate) diluted 105 times was toxic to three different human cell types. This level is significantly lower than the currently accepted residue levels. What this means is that every bite of GM food (modified to be tolerant of glyphosate application) will also have toxic residues which may be detrimental to your health.

Another reason given is the possible increase in nutrition from genetic modification (a higher vitamin content, such as vitamin A in so-called Golden Rice). Yet another is the production of pharmaceuticals from GM crops, which is touted as being able to increase the global availability of medicines and vaccines. Still another reason is the production of substances like spider silk in mass quantities (from genetically modified goats that can produce the silk protein in their Pesticides and GMOs milk).

The four major GM crops – soy, corn, canola, and cotton – are engineered to survive the applications of herbicides at levels which would otherwise kill the plants. Almost 70% of GM crops are engineered to be herbicide tolerant. Another trait of GM crops is a pesticide produced within the plant itself (Bt, or Bacillus thuringienses) in GM corn and cotton. Proponents claim that Bt is harmless, and is a natural bacteria, but some studies have shown an allergic reaction, a high immune response, and even damaged intestines.

If you aren’t OK with all of that, then you need to learn how to avoid GMOs in the food you buy. The best way to avoid them is to buy 100% certified organic food always (check the PLU number on the produce). Organic produce has a 5 digit PLU number, beginning with 9. Conventionally grown produce has a 4 digit PLU number. In theory, all GM produce has a 5 digit PLU number beginning with 8, but the critics say that because labeling is optional, not all GM produce will be labeled as such. If you eat meat, buy 100% grass-fed (pastured) beef and go for the certified organic meats. If you read labels carefully, you will find foods that have been labeled non-GMO or GMO-free. If it isn’t labeled as such, and the product contains non-organic soybeans, corn, canola, cottonseed oil, or dairy, you’re probably getting GM varieties in there.

For more info, be sure to bookmark Seeds of Deception and the Organic Consumers Association GM page.

I avoid GM food, and I wouldn’t feed it to my friends or family either. I highly recommend you become a careful label reader and keep it out of your diet as well.