SUSTAINABILITY: GMOs and the Status Quo (Part 2)

(To begin with Part 1, go here first.)


“WEIRD SCIENCE” (FYI, I cannot find all of the links online to back up Joel’s review of the scientific literature.  Intuitively, I trust him and know that in one of his many books, he cites specific back up.  As well, bad science has a way of getting buried by the big guys who could be negatively impacted by it…)

Our society has all but swallowed the mainstream science that has promoted Genetically Modified crops and chemical fertilizers as safe and much more productive than its organic, (God-designed) counterparts.  But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see the failings and biases of even the world’s best science.

Golden Rice vs, White Rice – IRRI images

Golden Rice

Why do you want to make 500 million Asian children blind?  This was a question asked by a man working for the GMO golden rice initiative to Joel Salatin who is known for his criticism of GMO crops.  You see, this new hybrid food splices rice with Beta-carotene which (only in the most optimal circumstances) is converted into Vitamin A, which aids in many bodily functions including eye sight.  Who could object to this, right?  Those who know that it will actually aggravate Vitamin A deficiency.

And if that’s not enough, wait until you hear the way university-based experiment that led to the scientific discovery that GMO golden rice mono-crop produces more grains per field than its organic rice counterpart.  That’s actually true.  What they failed to mention, is that the organic rice fields made room for growing greens around the edges, used ducks to swim through the patties as natural weeders, and incorporated tilapia fish to eat the snails that attack the roots.  When Joel mentioned the veggies and meat in the organic fields, the response was “We aren’t studying those; we are studying the rice!”  You think the blind kids in Asia, want rice with a side of fish, duck eggs, and greens for dinner or pretty yellow rice?  And since you need fats and proteins to help digest vitamin A anyway, I’d say their nutritionists would recommend the latter.

Monsanto’s GMO Potato Trials – According to Jeffrey Smith in Seeds of Deception, the “scientists” purposely chose old, already grown rats for the trials.  But when the same experiment was duplicated in Scotland using juvenile rats (when brain development is fast-growing), they observed shrunken brain, heart, and kidney size, social aggression, and the inability to figure out mazes.  Pass the french fries, please!  

Virginia Tech Corn

Gene Revolution – photo by live w mcs Flickr stream

To determine whether organic or conventional corn grows better, VATech planted one kind of each – but both in already chemically fertilized fields.  (It take up to 5-6 years to convert a conventional field to productive organic standards.)  Then they sprayed chemical fertilizers to kill the buggies and such on the conventional field while doing little if anything to amend the soil or use natural pest management on the organic side.  So guess which one grew better?!  The conventional.  Surprise, surprise.  This is our best science, people!

Steers Grow Better on Herbicide Grass

A new herbicide has been developed that’s keeps plants from bolting to seed to maintain the grass in a more vegetative state.  Cows gained more per day on the herbicide sprayed grass, so they promoted it.  However, they never compared the herbicide to managed grazing.  So they’ve got thousands of farmers spending their hard-earned money on chemicals, instead of grazing their cows the way God/nature intended.


Photo credit: Dan Voglesong

If you still need convincing that some of the big agri-businesses behind this pseudo-science are probably as greedy as they are unethical, then peruse Occupy Monsanto.  Or this article.  Monsanto (makers of the infamous Agent Orange), et. al. have taken the “culture” out of agriculture and seek to “mine” the land for its monetary benefit rather than nurture or cultivate it.

elycefeliz flickr photostream

One of the obvious negative consequences of such a system can be found in major and increasing health issues.  Human blood has been found to be laced with all manner of toxins and chemicals – including pregnant women and fetuses.

But lesser known consequences (at least to the average US consumer) is the undermining of farmers around the world.  La Via Campesina, the largest international confederation of farmers, has called Mansanto one of the “principal enemies of peasant sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty for all peoples.”

Green Wellies Flickr stream

It is putting already poor farmers further into debt and producing an illogical and unethical forced reliance on terminator seeds, which are seeds that are genetically engineered to be sterile so that farmers have to purchase new seeds every year instead of the age-old method of harvesting and saving seeds from current crops.  These seeds also replace thousands of locally grown and adapted varieties, decreasing agricultural biodiversity.

In 2010, an article in Natural News reported that 10,000 Haitian farmers marched in protest and even burned a small quantity of Monsanto’s hybrid corn seeds that they so generously “donated” (read: get them hooked on so they can secure a monopoly in a poor country) after the earthquake.  The peasant leader, Chavannes Jean-Batiste said they wanted to “defend native seeds and the rights of peasants on their own land…[and] save our diversity and our agriculture.”

Indian farmer reaping crop manually. Photo by Shashi Kant Sharma/Gothwal Flickr Photo Stream

Over the past 16 years, more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India due to the failing harvest and inflated prices caused by their partnership with Monsanto and other agribusinesses.  Dr. Vandana Shiva, India’s foremost physicist, environmentalist, and science policy advocate, has started the Seeds of Hope campaign to lift the “suicide economy.”  Guess what she recommends?  

– A shift from GMO and non-renewable seeds to organic, open pollinated seed varieties which farmers can save and share.

– A shift from unfair trade based on false prices to fair trade based on real and just prices.

– A shift from chemical farming to organic farming.  (Shocking, no?)

She states that the farmers who have made this shift are earning 10 times more than the farmers growing Monsanto’s Bt-cotton.

Greenpeace volunteers and local Philippino farmers create a crop circle symbolizing their rejection of Monsanto’s GMO crops. by summerburkes Flickr stream

BOTTOM LINE:  The greedy agribusiness, genetically modified, chemically saturated status quo is not working.  If this current food production continues, it will have increasingly negative implications on  public health, earth restoration, world food supplies, and the poor.   Monsanto et. al. (and the governments who support them) are not only NOT meeting present needs but they are also compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sufficiently discouraged?  Don’t be.  Good wins in the end.  And check out part 3 to read about those who are doing their part now!

What are your thoughts on corporate greed in the food system?


4 thoughts on “SUSTAINABILITY: GMOs and the Status Quo (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: SUSTAINABILITY: Our future (Part 3) | Shesourceful

  2. Great question, Randall. I have a simple primer on Real Food for beginners that is linked to all sorts of great resources here: And I also have a post based on a presentation that I gave with examples here: Or you can just search “Real Food” on the blog. Let us know how your journey goes!

  3. Pingback: Can We Feed the World Sustainably? (Part 1) | Shesourceful

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