The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them
My family avoids eating GMOs. I can't say we NEVER eat them. We had GMO corn taco shells this week and cookies from a local bakery that almost certainly uses conventional ingredients. A recent trip to a nearby burger joint was what our family refers to as a "crap fest." It was delicious! Healthy? Well... uh... it was delicious. As a rule, though, we go for food that is as close to all-natural as we can get it, even though that means our grocery budget is higher than average and we have to make cuts in other areas to pay for our food.
I've been working on this post for quite a while now, trying to put together the reasons we make the choice to eat a GMO-free (more or less) diet. This morning, Wanda from Minnesota Farm Living posted this link on her Facebook page and it was just the motivation I needed to tie all this together and post it.
Wanda and I are on opposite sides of the GMO debate but I have immense respect for her. She runs a farm that is clean and humane. She goes out of her way to know the latest research on how to keep her animals healthy and, therefore, provide healthy meat to the public. Also, she has been endlessly patient with me as, for nearly a year now, I have been occasionally pestering her with questions about why so many farmers make the choices they do when it comes to bio-tech if it's "SO OBVIOUS" to Joe Public that bio-tech is evil. She helps me see that my viewpoint isn't always the only one and that, as a consumer but not a producer, I don't always understand the bigger picture.
The article she posted today, entitled, "How Scare Tactics on GMO Foods Hurt Everybody," was an interesting read and I agree with a lot of what they said. The author, Prof. Pamela Ronald, was speaking specifically in reaction to a new bill that has been passed in Vermont, requiring the labeling of GMO foods.
Let's start with the common ground.
I live in a rural area and I have asked dozens of farmers why they buy GMO seed. Universally they say it reduces the amount of pesticide they have to use and the amount of gas they would use applying it to their field. Additionally, fossil fuels are burned in tilling fields and GMO crops require less (sometimes no) tilling. I would add that several of them go a step further and say that using GMO seed has decreased their topsoil erosion as well. So, in these ways, GMO crops are a big benefit to the environment.
She also states this:
"The bill is a contradictory hodgepodge of requirements and exemptions. It doesn’t require labeling for cheese made with genetically engineered enzymes, or red grapefruit developed through radiation mutagenesis. It doesn’t require labeling for animals that have been fed GMO crops, or for crops sprayed with carcinogenic compounds. The law doesn’t require crops sprayed with the organic pesticide Bt to be labeled, but crops genetically engineered to produce Bt must be labeled, and so must certain types of hybrids (including triticale, which can be found in most natural-food stores)."
To which I reply, with a sigh, "Yup. That's government for you."
No doubt some law maker was trying to please the organic foodies (who are often backed with surprising amounts of money and clout) and the National Board Of Name Your Favorite Food (who, no doubt gave them money and clout) at the same time and they ended up with some kind of weird compromise that singles out a handful of items while creating special tax breaks for others. Sadly, I've come to realize that's just how government works these days in far too many cases.
There is this statement: "So the law... won’t give consumers access to food that’s... less “corporate.”
True. Organics and natural food is some seriously big business in America these days. Pretty much every major food manufacturer has a branch or "child company" that sells organic products. In fact, the cost of organic certification is so prohibitive that there are very few small farms that can afford it. If you want to avoid doing business with Corporate America you need to grow your own food or buy from a neighbor who does.