What are GMOs and Who is Monsanto?

What are GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are plants, animals, and bacteria with DNA engineered for a wide variety of applications. GMO’s present hazards which vary depending on the type of organism being modified and the intended use. Most concerns about GMO’s relate to their potential harmful effects on the environment and human health.

Genetically modified food crops have foreign genes forced into their DNA either by shooting genes from a “gene gun” into a plate of cells or by using bacteria to invade the cell with foreign DNA. The altered cell is then cloned into a plant. These invading genes come from bacteria, viruses, other plants, and animals. This introduces, or creates, organisms that have never before been in the human food supply.

It is no coincidence that the number of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses increased from 7% to 13%. in the first nine years after GMOs were introduced into the food supply, GMOs are linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.

GM crops increased pesticide use 383 million pounds in the US in the first 13 years after their introduction. Yet pesticides are one of the first foreign bodies introduced into the DNA of crops.

Besides pests these crops are also killing off the bees and Monarch butterflies.

GM crops are unhealthy, they destroy the environment, contaminate forever, and have no consumer benefits. Biotech companies use “tobacco science” to claim product safety while government oversight is virtually nonexistent.

Who is Monsanto?

You may not remember them by name, but you’ll remember their work. The artificial sweetener Saccharin was their flagship product. Monsanto also brought us PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange.

For a Monsanto chemical production timeline http://earthjustice.org/features/ourwork/timeline-monsanto-s-chemical-romance

While they are not the only agricultural biotech company, they are the largest and most pervasive. They control 84% of the world’s seed markets. Their creation of GM (genetically modified) herbicide-tolerant crops, sometimes called Roundup Ready crops, has caused an overreliance on a single herbicide. You guessed it, Monsanto’s Roundup. This is leading to the emergence of super weeds causing farmers to use more herbicides. Weed scientists warn this could lead to a three-fold increase in herbicide use. Roundup is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

So why am I optimistic?

I do still believe there is hope. Listed below is just some of the progress made since the first March Against Monsanto in May of 2013.

  • The Monsanto Protection Act (which basically gave Monsanto immunity from lawsuits) is repealed,
  • Whole Foods, in response to shoppers’, is making a commitment to complete GMO transparency in its stores by 2018. 
  • The use of the Non-GMO Project Verified label is approved for use on meat and liquid egg products
  • An amendment requiring the labeling of GM salmon passed after more than 2,000 retailers across the United States committing to not selling GM salmon
  • Connecticut and Vermont passed GMO labeling law
  • Big Island Hawaii passed a non-GMO bill

 Since it first appeared on products in 2010, the Non-GMO Project Verified seal has become one of the fastest-growing labels in the natural products industry verifying more than 14, 000 products. 2013 was a banner year, with annual sales of Non-GMO Project Verified products topping $5 billion at the end of the third quarter.

 All this is because consumers spoke up. Worldwide marches with large numbers make the news. This raises awareness which lead to more consumers speaking up. It’s a supply and demand world. Our markets supply what we demand. If we say nothing they will supply what serves their bottom line not our best interest. In the words of Arundhati Roy, “Remember this: we be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.”

 

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