Back off, Monsanto!

I'm so tired of seeing agribusiness giants monopolize the food market. I was outraged when I heard of yet another story about Monsanto try to corner - sorry, control - the market with it's Roundup Ready seeds. This APM report on sugar beets left me fuming; not at the reporting, which is excellent as usual, but about how easy it is for genetically engineered (GE) materials to make it into our food system - and our bodies - without us knowing about.

I would venture to say that a majority of Americans have no idea (1) what a sugar beet is, and (2) that they are in a lot of the food we eat. It's a multi-billion dollar crop, one that is GE. Regardless of the crop, there's a few major problems. Be it corn, soybeans, wheat or sugar beats, most of it is genetically modified.

What's the problem? Well, there are many. In a nut shell...
  • GE is a weird process in and of itself. It involves gene-splicing technology that allow scientists to take DNA from an entirely different species of plant or animal - let's say a fish - and inject it into another species - let's say corn. See? It's weird. That objective is to make a synthetic creatures and subsequent bacteria, viral strains and antibodies that do not occur naturally.
  • When companies like Monsanto sell their seeds to farmers, who basically have no other viable financial choice than to buy GE seeds, they endanger surrounding farmers who breed their own seeds. If you think of large pieces of farmland, specifically those in the Midwest, contamination of GE seeds onto otherwise organic seeds is likely. Wind, water run-off and other environmental factors can carry spores and seeds from one GE fields to those that are not. In short, organic farmers then cannot make a living.
  • Although the technology is improving, it is expensive. If one of the drivers of GE proponents is food security, how are low income farmers able to support the costs?
The USDA allows genetic engineering, although no significant research and studies have been done to prove the effects of this food. How can it be safe if the question has never been thoroughly answered by people outside of farming corporations?

What can consumers do about it? READ LABELS! Demand that your food is not genetically modified, and labeled as such. The EU does it along with many other countries with more stringent guidelines than the U.S. Check out groups like this and see the incredible work it is doing to clearly distinguish the organic stewards from those who use GMOs in the marketplace.