Wednesday, May 18, 2011


On Earth Day I listened to a podcast that featured a panel discussion with Vandana Shiva. My newest HERO.

Dr. Shiva is a PhD in Philosophy, she is also the founder of Navdanya International, a group that is fighting the patenting of the world's seeds. Dr. Shiva passionately and articulately speaks about the farce of the Green Revolution in the 1960s in India. And how we are once again being accosted by the likes of Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and other chemical companies with their seeds that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) and terminator technology. Threatening the future of farmers and our food supply.

As someone that always stresses organic, this got me thinking - I really need to talk more about GMOs...

According to the Institute for Responsible Technology,
"Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (91%), cotton (88%), canola (88%), corn (85%), sugar beets (90%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (small amount), and tobacco (Quest® brand). 
Products derived from the above, including oils from all four, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup among others. There are also many "invisible ingredients," derived from GM crops that are not obviously from corn or soy"
It might be surprising to learn that the vast majority of processed foods contain some form of the above ingredients, especially soy and corn. What may be even more surprising to some is that these foods have been released under a cloud of controversy over safety. Beginning in 1995 with Arpad Pusztai, of the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland's, testing of Monsanto GMO potatoes1. Dr. Pusztai's findings in 1999 were quite the opposite of what he was expecting. As a strong supporter of GMO food Dr. Pusztai's original intention was to show the safety of GMO foods, not the dangers.

Ten-plus years later and we are no better than we were in 1999. The safety of GMOs is still in question and the chemical companies reassuring the safety is almost reminiscent of the tobacco companies saying cigarettes were harmless... OH REALLY... What's not in question are the strong-arm tactics of the chemical companies in keeping the secrets of their patented materials, we know how they deal with farmers that save seeds - yes I'm talking to you Monsanto- this is why there is such little research out there, they need to protect their patents... OH REALLY... I love how proprietary information trumps public heath and safety - thanks FDA.

Rant aside, One can conclude that the lack of independent research on GMO foods is intentional. I'm sure we can find plenty of studies funded by the chemical companies, I'm not interested in those. I want the unbiased (un-bribed?) peer-reviewed academia version of the studies. Unfortunately, these are few and far between and the researchers that do undergo those studies do so under the threat of compromising their reputations (see Dr. Pustai's above). However they are out there. You just need to do a little searching and here's what I found at the Institute of Science in Society: a summary from The Independent Science Panel on GM Final Report and their more comprehensive report from 2003 that's called The Case for a GM-free Sustainable World, the panel concluded that:
"[Our] extensive review of the evidence has convinced us that GM crops
are neither needed nor wanted, that they have failed to deliver their
promises, and instead, are posing escalating problems on the farm.
There is no realistic possibility for GM and non-GM agriculture to coexist,
as evident from the level and extent of transgenic contamination
that has already occurred, even in a country like Mexico where an official
moratorium has been in place since 1998.

More importantly, GM crops are unacceptable because they are
by no means safe. They have been introduced without the necessary
safeguards and safety assessments through a deeply flawed regulatory
system based on a principle of ‘substantial equivalence’ that is aimed
at expediting product approval rather than serious safety assessment.
Despite the lack of data on safety tests of GM foods, the available
findings already give cause for concerns over the safety of the transgenic
process itself that are not being addressed."2
Luckily, consumers are doing more research and becoming more vocal:

According to the ABC News website,
"The U.S. government has insisted there's not enough difference between the genetically modified seeds its agencies have approved and natural seeds to cause concern. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, more so than his predecessors in previous administrations, has acknowledged the debate over the issue and a growing chorus of consumers concerned about what they are eating."
The demand is out there for more testing and more information, we deserve to know what we are putting into the mouths of our loved ones. According to Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, it would only take a boycott of 5% of the US population to make a significant economic impact on the GMO peddlers. And we all know that it's always about the bottom line. It's as simple as buying organic whole foods, by avoiding processed foods you drop your exposure to GMOs considerably.

Here are resources to help you join us in becoming part of that 5%, tell a friend or two!

Tips on Avoiding GMOs:
Non GMO Shopping Guide:
Join Millions Against Monsanto:
Buy Organic:

1. Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine Dr Stanley WB Ewen FRCPath,Arpad Pusztai PhD. The Lancet - 16 October 1999 ( Vol. 354, Issue 9187, Pages 1353-1354 ) DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(98)05860-7

2. Independent Science Panel. (2003, June 15). The Case For A GM-Free Sustainable World London: Author. Retrieved May 18, 2011, from -
   Drafted byMae-Wan Ho and Lim Li Chingwith contributions fromJoe Cummins, Malcolm Hooper, Miguel Altieri,Peter Rosset, Arpad Pusztai, Stanley Ewen,Michel Pimbert, Peter Saunders, Edward Goldsmith,David Quist, Eva Novotny, Vyvyan Howard, Brian John

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