Tag Archives: GMO

March Against Monsanto: 1,000+ Demonstrators in Grand Rapids, Michigan

March Against Monsanto, Grand Rapids, Michigan

We had an impressive turnout of demonstrators today in Grand Rapids, Michigan–people who were motivated to March Against Monsanto to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food (GMOs) and the food giants that produce it. I was thrilled to be a participant in a worldwide event to bring awareness to consumers about who’s controlling our food system. Good to see local news stations WOOD-TV and Fox 17 West Michigan covered the event.

Here’s my video of marchers on Pearl Street.

And check out the slideshow I created of demonstrators and their creative signs. (Oh, plus a wedding in progress as we passed the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.)

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March Against Monsanto: May 25

March Against MonsantoIf you haven’t heard, a global initiative is underway. People all over the world who care about what they eat and the future of the earth will March Against Monsanto on Saturday, May 25, to demonstrate their concern about the global food supply.

Marches are planned on six continents, in 49  countries, totaling events in over 370 cities. In the U.S., events will occur simultaneously at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time in 47 states.

I’m marching in Michigan to take a stand against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which can threaten people’s health and longevity, as well as biodiversity.

To learn more about initiative, read the mission statement and press release.

Interested in marching? Find a city near you.

The Cheap Food Policy: “King Corn”

I’ve been wanting to see the movie “King Corn” for awhile and finally got around to renting it. If you’re into eating happy food, this is a must-see documentary about “the stuff we’re really made from.”

It’s about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In the film, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college, move from the East Coast to the Midwest to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.

Deserve to Know It’s GMO: March Against Monsanto on World Food Day

Sure, it may be six months away but it’s time to plant the seed (no pun intended) so you can organize or attend an event in your area.

MillionsAgainstMonsanto.org is organizing a march against Monsanto on World Food Day this year, October 16, 2011. Their goal is to reach 2,300 supporters in 435 local chapters for a nationwide day of action, turning out 1,000,000 people against Monsanto in support of our right to know, and choose, what’s in our food.

Monsanto produces genetically modified (GMO) seeds, which many people believe are harmful to our health, and possibly the source of numerous diseases and food allergies. (Read about their stance on the topic on their website.)

The Organic Consumers Association has provided a list of local chapters so you can find out how to get involved where you live. To find out more about the march, check out this YouTube video produced by the Organic Consumers Association.

And if you can’t make the march, how about signing a petition requesting that “all food packaging should clearly identify all non-organic ingredients containing soy, corn, cottonseed oil, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa or GM growth hormones with a label or shelf sign that says ‘May Contain GMOs’ and identify all meat, dairy, and eggs that come from CAFOs [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations] with a label or shelf sign that says ‘CAFO.'”

Demanding mandatory GMO labeling worked in the European Union. Let’s make it happen in the United States!

Are GMOs the New Agent Orange?

My friend Tammy over at Harbor Health and Massage shared a blog post recently called “If You Eat Organic Food, Have You Just Been Betrayed?” by Dr. Joseph Mercola, DO.

When I went to Dr. Mercola’s website to read the article, I saw an interesting video posted there. It’s nearly half an hour long but chock full of research about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their effects on both animals and humans. The video contains an interview with Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology and author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette.

If you haven’t tried to eliminate GMOs from your food selections, consider watching the video. One farmer who was interviewed likened GMOs to Agent Orange, the code name for a defoliant used in the United States’ herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange contained dioxin, a toxin known for causing birth defects and thought to be carcinogenic.

Remember how it took years for the results of spraying Agent Orange to be revealed? It seems that the same thing is happening with GMOs, which are linked to reproductive problems in animals as well as potential sources for allergies and toxins in people. They are also thought to be a source of behavior and mood alterations.

If you don’t have half an hour to watch the video, here’s a more creative message by Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com that still gets the point across.

And back to the article I originally mentioned: Dr. Mercola claims that “a self-appointed group of ‘Organic Elites,’ including Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, are surrendering to Monsanto” and that they “support the so-called ‘coexistence’ of organics with genetically modified (GM) crops.”

Whole Foods retorted by saying, “There are still many unanswered questions about genetic engineering and there is no mandatory labeling and little government oversight of GMOs. That’s why we have spent the last couple of decades working to find a solution to offer non-GMO foods to our shoppers.”

If you watch the video on Dr. Mercola’s site, you’ll likely feel the way I do: Research points toward negative results regarding consumption of GMOs.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to fight the Non-GMO war alone. NonGMOProject.com, a non-profit organization representing the organic and natural products industry in the U.S. and Canada, helps consumers find non-GMO choices for organic and natural products. Look for their seal when you shop to help you find foods produced according to their rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance, including testing of risk ingredients.

You can also download their PDF or iPhone app.

GMO Alfalfa: A Lose-Lose Situation

A hot topic in the news you may have heard about recently is the deregulation of Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready alfalfa, which shows the Obama Administration’s lack of support for small farmers and food system reform.

What this means is that genetically modified organism (GMO) alfalfa has the ability to contaminate both conventional and organic alfalfa fields. For conventional growers, contamination prevents them from exporting because many markets outside the U.S. won’t accept GMO crops. For organic farmers–especially dairy and beef–contamination of alfalfa can make it difficult to find GMO-free feed, which is a requirement under organic rules.

While USDA Secretary Vilsack had suggested a “co-existence plan” requiring geographic buffers between fields planted with GMO alfalfa and conventional or organic fields, the compromise was reportedly overruled by the White House.

I subscribe to emails from Michael Pollan, which is where I first heard the news about the GMO alfalfa. Pollan claims, “In my view, Round-Up Ready alfalfa is a bad solution to a non-existent problem. Alfalfa is a perennial grass that doesn’t suffer from serious weed problems. In fact, ninety-three percent of alfalfa fields receive no herbicide at all. Which I suppose is fortunate for any farmers who plant GMO alfalfa, since Round-Up itself is well on its way to obsolescence, as weeds resistant to the herbicide proliferate around the country; I’m told that farmers in Iowa are already having to resort to hand-weeding to control weeds that no longer respond. So why is the Administration willing to risk damage to both organic and conventional agriculture to promote such an unnecessary product? Ask President Obama.”

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), said, “We’re disappointed with the USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice. The USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

The CFS sent an open letter to Secretary Vilsack, calling on the USDA to base its decision on sound science and the interests of farmers, and to avoid rushing the process to meet the marketing timelines or sales targets of Monsanto, Forage Genetics, or other entities.

How High Fructose Corn Syrup Messes with Our Bodies and the Earth

Are you still eating processed food with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in it? If so, here are four reasons why you might want to reconsider, according to this article from Yahoo! News:

  1. It’s weird stuff. While the process may start with corn, there’s nothing natural about high fructose corn syrup, and it most certainly does not exist in nature. Corn kernels are simply spun at a high velocity and combined with three other enzymes: alpha-amylase, glucoamylase, and xylose isomerase, so that it forms a thick syrup that’s way sweeter than sugar and super cheap to produce.
  2. It has weird effects on your body. High fructose corn syrup interferes with your metabolism so that you can’t stop eating. That’s right, it causes addiction by slowing down the secretion of leptin in the body. Leptin is a crucial hormone in the body that tells you that you’re full and to stop eating. That’s one reason HFCS leads to obesity.
  3. You might be ingesting more than the RDA for mercury. Mercury?! Yes, according to Federal Drug Administration (FDA) scientist Renee Dufault and colleagues, who tested supermarket samples where high fructose corn syrup was the first or second ingredient on the label, such as barbecue sauce, jam, yogurt, and chocolate syrup. Findings revealed about one out of three had mercury above the detection limit.
  4. You’re not helping the environment. Most corn is grown as a monoculture, meaning that the land is used solely for corn, not rotated among crops. The crops are usually genetically modified as well. And, a monoculture approach to agriculture can result in numerous pests, which, in turn, means the crops are treated with pesticides that pollute the soil and ground water. A monoculture also contributes to erosion.


The Non-GMO Shopping Guide

Thanks to my friend Tammy of Harbor Health and Massage for sharing the Non-GMO Shopping Guide in her fall newsletter, The Beacon. It’s a handy guide, produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology, that can help you avoid eating GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods.

The website offers four tips for avoiding GMO food:

  • Buy organic.
  • Look for “Non-GMO Project” verified seals.
  • Avoid “At-Risk Ingredients” including corn, soybeans, canola, and cottonseed.
  • Buy products listed in the shopping guide.
  • I especially like the list of invisible GM ingredients (processed foods with hidden GM sources). Print off a copy of the guide and take it with you next time you go food shopping!

    Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops Continues in the U.S.

    Graph via USDA Economic Research Service Data Sets

    It’s pretty obvious, even without reading the data in the above graph, that the adoption of genetically engineered crops is on the rise in this country. 

    According to the Economic Research Service of the USDA, “U.S. farmers have adopted genetically engineered (GE) crops widely since their introduction in 1996, notwithstanding uncertainty about consumer acceptance and economic and environmental impacts. Soybeans and cotton genetically engineered with herbicide-tolerant traits have been the most widely and rapidly adopted GE crops in the U.S., followed by insect-resistant cotton and corn.” 

    Just a little reminder: You are what you eat. Does genetically modified food sound like a smart idea?

    Back to Basics with Heirloom Tomatoes

    Last weekend, while strolling around the Holland Farmers’ Market before the Saturday morning Chef Series, I visited Gordon Stannis and his daughters, who were selling heirloom tomatoes. In fact, their business is called Heirlooms.

    Heirlooms are plants that were used before modern agriculture came along with GMOs (genetically modified organism), of which the majority are owned by Monsanto. (Isn’t that a monopoly?)

    For purists, seed saving is the way to go. In fact, the Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit, member supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations. 

    Besides, how else can you buy Sweet Pea Currant tomatoes?

    Even though my garden is pretty full already, I couldn’t resist adding one more tomato plant to my row. I bought a Sweet Pea Currant and look forward to the non-GMO flavor these tomatoes add to my salads this summer!