Why Genetically Engineered Foods Won’t Feed the World

updated 3.2.13

Biotech advertising, such as Monsanto’s, tells us that genetically engineered foods are the way to feed our burgeoning human population. But we don’t have a problem with food production; in fact, we are vastly over-producing food– especially corn– which is why subsidies are necessary to keep large farms in business in the US. The underlying problem of feeding the world is not production, but access, as the documentary The Future of Food points out.

Both the The Future of Food and Bread for the World analyze the ways in which development has pushed subsistence farmers from their land, increasing world hunger.

Moreover, gmo foods require substantial amounts of chemical and water inputs, which not only empty the pockets of poor farmers, but deplete soil in all areas, but especially in marginal areas where local food production and protecting local water sources is most crucial.

As the Future of Food also points about, actual third-party research on gmo foods contradicts biotech’s claim. In gmo soy, for instance, root systems are reduced by twenty-five per cent compared to previously used  non-gmo soy, radically curtailing production. Moreover, many farmers report that gmo soy is inferior to regular soy with respect to its nitrogen-fixing characteristics. The Union of Concerned Scientists’  report, Failure to Yield gives an overview of the data on gmo food production, which has a very poor record indeed.

Indeed, just this month (February 2013), a news item in the Farmer’s Weekly indicated that US farmers may well stop purchasing genetically engineered seeds because of the poor performance of gmo crops globally.

Recently there are reports that bt corn engineered to carry the bt toxin to prevent insect damage is only successful in the short term–since after three generations insects have become immune to bt, according to Iowa researchers. This has other repercussions, since bt has been used selectively and successfully on non-gmo crops before its wholesale use in Monsanto’s product. Hastened resistance will take this product (a bacterial infection previously certified for use on organics) out of this crop-growing arsenal.

The primary place of the profit motive in gmo production is indicated by Monsanto’s relentless suit against Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser for growing gmo crops that he never purchased– but which migrated into his fields though wind pollination.  The real issue for Monsanto was apparently the fact that Schmeiser was saving his own non gmo seed and distributing it to his neighbors, thus cutting into Monsanto’s market.  If this was only in a small way, it was not a precedent Monsanto wanted to go unchallenged.

In parallel fashion, Monsanto went after poor East Indian women who were grinding local oil seed and selling it on street corners to support their families.  It got the World Trade Organization to pressure the Indian government to shut down these small vendors  as competition with the gmo soy oil that Monsanto was selling to the Indian market.

After years of legal battles, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs, Schmeiser himself finally won the right to demand that Monsanto clean his field of the unwanted crops rather than paying for the presence of gmo varieties in that field.

But the fight was devastating to the farmer.  At one point Monsanto’s suit compelled  Schmeiser to destroy one thousand pounds of soy seed that he had developed over several decades.

The inability to control migration of gmo  materials is centrally  implicated in this story. Such gene migration is poorly understood and only poorly controlled. In this context, Monsanto’s “terminator gene”, engineered to make its seed sterile (so as to assure it needs to be re-purchased by farmers each succeeding season)  is certainly worrisome.

British farmers, for instance, traditionally left hedgerows of rapeseed (which crosses with soy) and other wild crops to feed birds and insects that helped pollinate their fields– and provide some diversity in their own crops though wild seeds.  The fact that gmo-seed might contaminate such hedgerows was a serious enough fear to cause British farmers to burn test plots of gmo seeds when they were first planted locally.  Later a farmer’s movement in India did the same.

The Indian farmers had more than one reason for doing so. Vandana Shiva indicates that Monsanto’s hawking of gmos to Indian farmers is linked with the recent tragic suicide rate among these farmers, who purchase seed they can scarcely afford and then go bankrupt when it fails to yield, even with environmentally as well as economically expensive inputs of water, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

In fact, even consumers who have no health or environmental concerns about genetically engineered foods may well wish to avoid them on grounds of boycotting Monsanto’s corporate tactics.  Monsanto was voted the worst corporation of the year in 2010 and 2012 in the public vote held by Corporate Accountability International–which placed Monsanto in its “hall of shame”  . Monsanto was cited  “for mass producing cancer causing chemicals”.  Not only does it produce bovine growth hormone tied to reproductive system cancers (see below), it has corporate links with the companies that produce the pesticides its gmo crops–such as “RoundUp Ready” products are engineered to take more of.

Importantly, Corporate Accountability also cited Monsanto’s practice of “aggressively running small farms out of business, and recklessly promoting seeds that exacerbate food scarcity globally”. Click here to take action against Monsanto’s attempts to gain immunity from federal laws protecting human health and the environment.

As for the science of gmos themselves, they  may look flashy, but they indicate the dangers of doing something (splicing genes) without really understanding the consequences of this process.  According to a former student of mine, working for a biotech firm turned him into a supporter of organics, given the sloppy methods he saw in the labs where he worked.  Gene splicing was done haphazardly using “junk dna”  in the hope that it might yield something of use–and the debris from experiments were thrown out in such a way that local wildlife ingested it.

The European Union has steadfastly refused to allow gmo foods to be sold there— turning away the importation of all US products containing gmos. Unfortunately, the US recently filed a protest of this policy with the World Trade Organization to force the EU to accept all US imports. The WTO ruled in the US favor, since economics, not health, is its principle concern.

In the wake of this decision, EU nations have launched extensive campaigns to label gmo  foods to give their consumers a chance to avoid them. Monsanto lobbyists have forestalled such labeling in the US, since their public opinion polls  shows that labeling would cut into their profits. Not incidentally, many of the same polls show that the US public is overwhelming in favor of labeling such products.

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Health questions about GMOS

Though there is no definitive research at to whether an upsurge in adult-onset food allergies is linked to the concurrent rise of GMOs,  ingesting grains in which foreign genes have been inserted has triggered digestive upsets in certain individuals. And those allergic to Brazil nuts or peanuts may be allergic to GMO foods in which genes from these nuts have been inserted.

There is also enough data linking cancer and hormone disruption to genetically engineered bovine growth hormone to cause the EU, Japan, Australia and Canada to ban its use because of potential human harm.  In Oregon, a campaign led by a Portland doctor against this hormone motivated farmers to reject it.

Tips for avoiding GMOs

Produce 

Once upon a time (in the early 1990s) produce growers agreed to add an “8” before a four digit produce code to indicate that produce had been genetically engineered.  (Example 94011 for organic bananas would become 84011 for genetically engineered bananas).  However, industry did not follow through on this and today the only way to largely guarantee that you are not consuming genetically engineered food is to buy organic.  Instead Monsanto has been involved in a pitched legal battle to avoid labeling their gmo products– to the extent that they have threatened to sue Vermont if their legislature passes a gmo labeling law.

Organic produce is “largely” free of genetically engineered components, but not totally so because of some gene drift– especially with corn– in adjacent fields.

Other Foods

Buy organic:

Organic foods labeled “USDA organic” are not currently allowed to contain GMO products despite Monsanto’s intensive political pressure to change this. There is one unfortunate exception (and there may be more as gmo contamination grows): so much yellow corn used for ethanol production is gmo that it has contaminated yellow corn seed and organic yellow corn can no longer be guaranteed to be gmo free. This is a special tragedy to farmers in Central America who have developed traditionally diverse corn stocks– and now see them contaminated by gmos.

Buy Oregon milk and milk products:

In a move that should be more widely publicized, Oregon dairy farmers made a joint pact to avoid the use of the genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone.

Avoid processed food:

Ninety per cent of all processed food in the US contains GMOs.

Be especially careful of soy products:

The vast majority of non-organic soy is now genetically engineered. This is a special problem with infant formula containing soy.

A number of food producers and distributors have signed on to non-gmo pledges:

Here is a pdf to download listing such producers and distributors.

Scientific analysis of gmo problems

The Union of Concerned Scientist’s report, “Failure to Yield” is here (thanks to Lance Search de Lopez for reminding me of this link).

There is a list of papers authored by scientists on the problems with gmo release into the environment here. Some of these include cancer and allergy risk of ingestion, negative influences on seed stocks and farmer choices (including yield), contamination of non-target crops, harm to natural biodiversity, corporate as opposed to science-driven choices (and thus questionable research on gmo safety), and ignorance about the mechanisms by which gmo gene splicing works.

There are also well-considered guidelines for gmo research and release into the environment drawn up in line with the Swiss constitution supporting the “dignity of creation”. Needless to say, these are not currently being followed by the biotech industry.

Please feel to pass on the information in this essay in whatever way you see fit.

107 Responses

  1. I had no idea that 90% of processed foods contained GMO’s, or very sadly to me, that corn isn’t GMO free. Thank you for pointing out these facts. I am definitely going to check out the documentary and become better informed! The gene transfer/ migration is very interesting, especially as it related to bio-accumulation and magnification.

    • The latest nightmare is the fact that the much touted Round Up has been shown to kill human placental cells — and the gmo grains that Monsanto has engineered as “Round Up Ready” have evidently been responsible for s “sudden death syndrome” in livestock that consumed them.

    • It is new to me as well. Due to my busy lifestyle I eat a lot processed food, mainly microwaveables and deli meats. I’ve heard from some of my friends that genetically engineered grains can be sold labeled as natural food, that too legally. Does any one know if this is for real?
      Another thing I noticed during a trip to Napa vineyard in California this year was that organic grapes and normal grapes were planted very close to each other. It seems that the fertilizers and pesticides from the normal grapes could easily seep into the organic ones, which scares me into believing how organic is organic if company produces both organic and non-organic produce.

      • Hello Shailesh. GMO foods can be sold as “natural”– as there are not national standards governing this.
        They cannot be sold as “organic”. Some organic certification programs like TILTH in Oregon (and I believe in California) require the testing of soils to make sure that there is not such seepage as you indicate. Very important observation in the case of grapes, since seedless grapes are one of the worst in terms of the pesticide load they care. This is another reason why it makes sense to know one’s grower.

        • Thanks for the clarification because I have been going to Safeway and shopping at their all natural product section while their organic section is at a totally different area. Also, thanks for having the “Do Not Buy List ” on this site, it has made me aware of more deadly chemicals in our foods and products compared to what I have learnt in my organic chemistry or environmental chemistry classes. And before buying any shampoo or soaps, products.. I have been reading the contents very carefully.

        • You are certainly welcome. Congratulations for supporting both your health and our environment in your consumer choices.

  2. I read this article and was horrified. I was actually aware of the 90% fact that was discussed above, but what was so shocking was that we, the US, are forcing our international neighbors to be subjected to the unhealthy decisions our nation makes by producing GMO foods. Who do we really think we are? Shouldn’t we admire the EU decision to protect its citizens? Of course we do not! Our big businesses and corporations are so concerned with profit that we refuse to recognize that maybe someone refusing our products is not for financial reasons but for social well-being. It is disturbing to me, and I feel guilty that I, by association, am contributing to the “corruption” of other nations’ food sources.

    Another aspect of horror for me is the fact that I have the option to buy unprocessed foods and shop at local, fresh markets but that the majority of our nation does not. The poor and typically urban Americans are forced to live on what is cheap, and thanks to big businesses, the only foods that are cheap are those that are uber-processed. It is true that you could always shop at Winco or something similar and buy fresh foods, but in all honesty, are they really any safer than the bag of cheetos or of bleached rice? No! The chemicals we treat our fruits and vegetables with now are stronger and scarier than ever and most of the fruits and veggies are actually GMO as well unless organic. It is hard to know what to do in a society that not only forces its citizens to consume extremely hazardous products but also forces the citizens of other nations to have the choice to do the same.

    • I appreciate your passion on this topic, Amber. It obviously comes from compassion and a logical approach to respect for the values and well being of others. I absolutely agree that we should be applauding and following the model of the EU in this regard. And these same biotech corporations are in a sense forcing the US public to eat gmo foods–since they have fought so hard against the labeling that the overwhelming US populace wants.
      Perhaps the central question is., When money speaks, can ethics respond? Health has obviously taken a second seat to profit here. The hope is that the US citizenry will become more aware and eat local and organic– and it wouldn’t hurt to tell our Congresspersons that we not want the current World Trade Organization. Peter DeFazio has a great simple outline on what is wrong with such “free trade” on his website.

  3. The logical thing to consider is that the eco-system has been here, un-touched for hundreds of years. Why change things now?

  4. I am shocked that the US, is forcing our GMO products onto European shelves, it’s not enough for our country to allow the poisoning of it’s citizens but to go as far as poisoning the world population? What is it going to take for our country to straighten out their priorities? It is scary when your government chooses profit over health.

    • It is indeed “scary”, Kiley. And though it does sometimes seem like the “government” is something out there that is acting on us from without (especially in the face of big lobbyists), I think it important to remember that we are the government– or supposed to be.

  5. This is a disturbing article and not the first that I’ve learned about gmo’s. It is another thing that we humans in the industrial societies are trying to play God with. We think that we should and can control everything. This is just scary. The fact that over 90% of processed food contains gmo’s is appalling. Most of these products target middle and lower class citizens that also shop in places like Wal-Mart because it’s cheaper. It’s a whole disgusting cycle to make as much money as possible without the consideration of peoples health. The fact that the US filed a protest and thus forced the EU to buy their products shows exactly this. The EU tried to protect it’s people but because to much money was at stake it is now force to sell these products that are obviously sketchy, and more than likely harmful to our health. Anything that is made to be infertile after one growing cycle is something that is not natural and should not be allowed to exist.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, Laura. It seems that we must become informed consumers and vote with our dollars –as well as supporting initiatives to change “perverse subsidies” like those proposed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. See the “your choices matter” list here for their proposed farm bill.
      Thanks for your comment.

  6. It blows my mind how the WTO can continually force countries to accept goods from countries that are contaminated with chemicals they don’t want or contain GMO’s that they don’t want. It should be a consumers’ choice what to buy and want not to, and a country making that decision is really just one big consumer speaking for the whole. I have wondered if organic food meant no GMOs, I’m glad they don’t since we can’t label foods that contain GMO’s at least we know that organic foods don’t contain them. I also eat a lot of soy products and am going to be more aware and try to always buy organic soy products.
    It’s funny that I always thought that one of the arguments for GMO products is because of a growing population we need to make bigger food, but really like this article mentioned it’s not about the lack of food but the access to food. In the U.S. we throw out so much food, so we obviously don’t need genetically engineered foods, besides the negative health risks that can be associated with them. It’s not even safe to eat vegetables, which are suppose to be good for us.

    • This is the skewed result when we let our country run on a “profit first” priority and then give those making the profits rights of human persons.
      Then we set up The World Trade Organization, not to monitor the ethics of community in the global arena, but to make sure nothing interferes with anyone making as much profit as possible.
      We are certainly on the wrong track!

    • It is certainly a blow to know that we as U.S. citizens waste so much food when there are other people out there that actually need it. While I know of some donation programs that department stores have, much of the food still spoils. And so the argument for GMO is very flawed as Professor Holden noted in your comment, it is not to ensure ethics but instead to ensure that the big boys still make their profit. How sad.

    • I am with you on the WTO and I am always shocked at the amount of power that the WTO has over the world, it is insane and should not be allowed. I really liked your comment about the consumer’s choice and the government being the voice of the consumer. It made me think about how the people of the EU are all about their health and well-being and requesting their governments to take an active stance in it as well by outlawing GMO foods. This is in great contrast to the American people who either don’t care to learn about their own well-being or have not been aware of the effects of the GMO foods on their body. For all the research that seems to be out there, I believe it is the latter problem – and so there needs to be more education in our country about Monsanto and GMO foods and the health consequences on our bodies. After reading this article I actually wondered what I could do to get more people aware of GMO foods and how to make people better consumers.

      • I think your response (being motivated to increase awareness) is a very important one, Michelle. I hope you help to spread the work any way you can! Both the Organic Consumers Organization and Corporate Accountability International have information and campaigns against Monsanto you and others can join.
        Thanks for this response.

  7. There is something new to learn about GMO’s every day. I had no idea that 90% of processed foods contained GMO’s. That fact alone immediately makes me rethink a few of the food choices I am currently making. However, I did find it encouraging that Monsanto was voted worst company of the year in 2010. This shows that people really are taking notice to their less than ideal business practices.

    I am grateful for the tips to avoid GMO’s at the end of the article. These are helpful in making better and responsible food choices. It is good to know that USDA organic still does not incorporate genetically modified products and that Oregon dairy farmers are avoiding the use of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. Thanks for the tips.

    • Alicia,
      I also find it encouraging that Monsanto was voted worst company of the year in 2010, but find it discouraging that nothing has really been done about it. They are still just one big bully with a lot of money. How can the majority of us be for labeling GMO food, but somehow Monsanto has fought to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s discouraging that so many people are against Monsanto practices but they still continue to push out small farms and monopolize farming practices. We’re a fee country but when it comes to buying GMO free food it’s surprising how little of a choice we have. I was also shocked by the percentage found in processed foods. I know processed foods aren’t nearly as good a fresh foods, but this is just another reason to try and stay away from them.

      • Actually, Monsanto is currently being sued by the Cornucopia Institute in the attempt to make them clean up gmo seed drifting onto farms that never purchased and do not want it.
        Excellent question about labeling. It takes huge monetary inputs on Monsanto’s part to keep their products secret from consumers, both in lobbying lawmakers and in defeating labeling initiatives. Evidently they find this cost efficient, since they have the research on how many consumers would refuse to buy gmo foods if they knew they were buying them.
        And yes, staying away from processed foods is one way to stay away from gmo ones.
        Thanks for your comment.

      • Alicia;
        Talking about bullies I wanted to tell you something’s I know about Monsanto history. In 1901 John Queeny founded Monsanto and named the company after his wife’s maiden name. The company manufactured things such as saccharin, vanillin, aspirin, rubber, plastics, herbicides, DDT and the most heart wrenching for me agent orange and In the 1960s and 1970s, Monsanto became one of the most important producers of Agent Orange for US Military operations in Vietnam. The same company that introduced us to DDT and agent orange now is fighting the world on labeling what we eat.

    • You are welcome, Alicia. Thanks for your own personal choices in following your ethics and supporting your health.

  8. GMO’s and their extraordinary debate! I have learned a great deal about GMO’s lately, from a scientific point of view, but nothing to make me want to put them in my body. I totally agree with you in your opinion on the food crisis. It is not that we do not have enough food, we just to not distribute the food in the right way. How is it that we grow an immense amount of crops for animals to feed off of (and in turn slaughter these animals for meat) and to create processed foods? Wouldn’t it be a better use of land, and not to mention a health benefit, to use this land to grow crops for human consumption? To feed the billion people that are starving, for example. I have come to the conclusion recently that it is up to us, as consumers, to choose to support ethical food practices. Say no to factory grown meat, to process foods, to GMO’s! Say yes to local farmers, organic produce, and healthy plates. It is in my opinion that if the people that can afford to make these choices make choices with the health of all people in mind than those who are impoverished and underprivileged will be able to benefit, as well. Money, unfortunately, rules the world, so let’s put the money into the good guy’s hands. You know the ones who want to feed the world, not the ones who want to profit off of it.

    • Saying yes and no to those things we choose to also defines who we are–and honors our personal power and values, Kelly. Speaking of which, YES magazine’s latest issue on giving our democracy back to the people (taking it away from corporations) is great– you can view parts of it online.
      I love your last line about putting your money in the hands of those who want to feed the world rather than profit from it.

      • On your recommendation Professor I just got my first issue of YES magazine and it has so far been amazing. The readings provide important, albeit unpublicized stories of encouragement about numerous topics. Kelly, we do have a choice in what we eat and what time of world we want to live in. Ultimately it is up to us to change that which we do not agree with. So often people feel powerless and that money is the real power. There is power in a voice however, and with enough voices together change is inevitable.

        • Thank you for the inspiring comment, Trent. There is power in a voice–and even more when our voices are joined with others. And I am glad you are enjoying YES.

  9. The treaties that allow the WTO and IMF to dictate what a country and its people must import for food are regressive and need to be overturned. I thought a review was ongoing to try and modify treaties to make them more environmentally and socially protective. Guess not. I think most corporations function exactly as Monsanto, unfortunately, and obviously all have too much power. I would like to see class-action suits filed against thes ecorporations, but some states (and maybe the US govt?) has made this impossible, creating too many legal loopholes and forcing the complainant to pay all costs if they lose.

  10. I know I heard somewhere about the fact that 90% of food in America contains GMOs. I am not all that surprised that the big businesses have worked to implement this, as whenever there is an option for someone’s big wallet to grow even bigger, usually at least for awhile, it grows. Ethics are thrown out the window, as well as good morale. We saw that the owners even went as far as changing the name or label to ensure that it would still be profitable and that is devastating.

    I also read about organic foods in a sustainability class. In this class, the professor talked about the fact that sometimes foods at Safeway (and other department stores) market that a certain product is organic when in fact it isn’t. The information is included in this website http://www.geo.orst.edu/classes/geo300 which is a website administered by a fellow teacher at OSU. I do not remember the specific wording that a product must have, or the exact percentages that was given, but what I do know is that I would prefer to go to local food stores that promote organic foods. It is less likely that they will have products that are not “really” organic. In order for something to be organic, it must really be 100% organic, not 50%, not 70%, but 100%. At least this is what I can recall from one class last spring.

  11. I wonder about thing that you mentioned that we are vastly over producing food. Is it really true?? (I understand that they produce a substantial amount of corn in the United State. ) But if we consider about food production all over the world I am pretty sure that we have not enough food.
    In my opinion, I do not want to consume food that is genetically modified because I do not have any idea about it. I think most of people think that way because we do not know.

    • Interestingly, the data about over-production our worldwide (and it is true we are overproducing corn!).
      Check out some of the links to sites here that have this data (as in Bread for the World). Thanks for your comment.
      Hard to fathom there are so many hungry people because economic and political distribution systems don’t let food get to them.

  12. Forcing GMO’s onto an unwilling public is counter to the democratic principle of freedom. How are we free if we cannot choose for ourselves and cannot choose no? The WTO shows in their ruling – which was completely correct according to their own bylaws – that it is essentially an undemocratic system that exists in the world to limit choice. Oh sure, it portends to increase trade, but increase trade in dishonest ways. If a country doesn’t want your trade goods, how is it in any way fair that you force them upon them? Then, if they don’t want them you deny them the right to trade your goods, which are wanted. What a mean-spirited system the US has helped thrust upon the world in a shady manner. We fight for freedom on one hand and limit it with the other.

    • I absolutely agree, Trent. Passing GMOs off on consumers without their knowledge violates democratic freedom– as does the WTOs manipulation of the EUs choices!

  13. I really hate to see that the “all mighty dollar” means more than human life. I do not like that a corporate giant wants to dictate their poor ethics onto everyone and take away my ability to know what is in the food that I am eating. I think labeling is important and a corporation should not be able to stop that from happening. I like the tips for avoiding GMOs at the end of the article and will now be adding those into my routines.

  14. One of my many fears about GMO foods is Contamination and gene escape. It is said that seeds can travel 10 to 15 miles away. And if these genetically modified seeds pollinate with others than it seems we would have more of these veggies that I would not even know what is in their genes let alone what I could be eating. I have heard that tests have been showing damage to every single internal organ in rats fed GM potatoes. That female rats fed on soybeans gave birth to severely stunted pups, and that half died within three weeks. The survivors were sterile. That sheep allowed to graze on crop residues had died suddenly. I hear there is also allergy’s in workers.
    I want to know for sure if these veggies are safe or not. But the bottom line is why do I need to chose if they are not doing any good to feed more people.

    • Gene escape is a central issue– all the more important since the makers of GMOs neither understand nor can control this. According to the precautionary principle, we should “know for sure if these veggies are safe or not” before they move into our food supply! Thanks for your comment.

  15. Though I already new some of what I read i did not know it all and it still is very upsetting non the less. When will it be enough. There is so much devastating evidence against GMO foods and yet they persist. Monsanto is horrific. They do nothing but hurt people and put poisons in our foods. I hope that soon someone in this country will put their foot down and not allow them in our country either or at least require the labeling. That alone would hopefully put them out of business. This world is becoming so chemical laden that not even our mothers milk is safe. The one thing that is supposed to be best for our babies is poisoning them. That is sickening. We are even poisoning our babies while they are still inside of us. We as people should not have to constantly worry about everything we eat or drink being contaminated but we do. This has become a very unsafe world to live in and not do to risk of physical harm either.

  16. Non biased (uncorrupted) research has repeatedly exposed the fallacies of genetically engineered food products. Although the resources of companies like Monsanto are by no means limitless, they are certainly more than adequate to ensure their continued assault on the health of the global populations as well as the globe itself. It is pure insanity that organizations such as WTO are even allowed to exist much less have any say in our food supplies. That we should have to battle to protect our food sources time and time again is just an outrage. It is our governments who should be puttting a stop to practices that endanger the health of populations and the earth. All the people on earth resisting the practices of companies like Monsanto will do no good as long as our governments allow such companies to attack us with their poisons for profits.

    • Hello William, I think your outrage is warranted. I also think “all the people on earth” challenging such actions will certainly do some good– if none of us bought Monsanto products, for instance.
      I do agree that government policies that favor profit over health and environment are abominable– but WE are the government(or should be)–and on the end, if “all the people on earth” resisted this, government policies (and the lobbyists that support them) would not have a leg to stand on– much less, any way to get elected to office.

    • Yes, I feel the same way. It is hard to take in let alone accept. Its just all fundamentally wrong, to the core.

  17. What a nightmare. I am hoping and praying for the day we Americans figure out how to stop these corporations like Monsanto from destroying and hurting. They really must be stopped, this is awful. We don’t even know what we are eating anymore. I aplaud the Canadian farmer for fighting back and for sure sacrificing a lot. We need more people willing to take a stand.

    • I am heartened by the large number of people working on changing this–and just this last two days, a French court found against Monsanto and in favor of a French farmer harmed by a chemical they manufactured. It would be great if our courts would be as fair.

    • Summer,
      Unfortunately there are a lot of farmers who have been hurt by Monsanto and have tried to take a stand for justice but have been taken down by this corporation. The sad fact is that even if these farmers won such a case, by the end of the trials they have no money left. In cases such as these the justice system is no longer just. How else could a company that patents seed win a case against a small farmer that had Monsanto’s seed in their field simply from pollen drift? This is crazy that the injustice is so transparent and they continue to get away with it.

      • It is a sad fact indeed that Monsanto has spent so much money on legal battles against the very farmers it purports to help–and for that matter, against labeling laws that might benefit the consumers it purports to be doing a better job of feeding.
        As you point out, we need to re-assess the “justness” of our justice system–and to work to restore this.
        Monsanto’s winning this patent case against farmer because their gmo drifted into his field is tantamount to a neighbor being sued by someone who throw a ball throw his window for possession of the ball!

  18. I also have a lot of concerns about genetically modified foods! It seems like one of the many recent things that we have created that we don’t really know what the long-term effects will be. It seems that some lessons might have been learned from the nuclear energy industry- where we still don’t know how to safely store the nuclear waste already generated. Yet, here we go again, willy-nilly playing god and creating things we can’t control. The examples of pollen drift from modified crops onto other fields and the effects on butterflies and bees are disturbing enough. Then to learn that the don’t even consistently produce as much good as conventional or organic crops AND that insects are already adapting- why are we doing this? I just don’t see any benefits to anyone besides the companies producing the seed stock.

    I do tend to be of the “wait and see” persuasion and have avoided these foods as much as possible. I do worry about cancer or worse from ingesting these foods- and had not even heard that they were a possible cause of the rise in food allergies. I feel the same way about the nano-particles that are starting to proliferate now too in products like sunscreen. So, now they want me to put these particles on my skin- which will absorb them!- and we don’t really know about any long term effects of this either.

    Sometimes, I feel like we are all being used as guinnea pigs in these experiments- without ever being given a waiver to sign!

    Peace, Jen

    • Your sense that the public is being treated as guinea pigs is an apt one shared by others, Jen. Unless we have the precautionary principle which tells us that something is proven harmless before it is released into our environment– and taken into our bodies– that is a good way of looking at these chemicals. Another way is in terms of “chemical trespass”- that is, that these chemicals are trespassing on our bodies in ways that we would never let others trespass with, say, a gun or anything else with dangerous potential.
      I think you right that benefits of gmos are pretty much limited to corporations like Monsanto– whereas we are all bearing the costs.
      Nanoparticles, as you note, make up another area of concern in skin care products.
      We need good right to know laws alongside the precautionary principle.

      • Madronna- I don’t think I was familiar with the precautionary principle before this term- but it makes SO much more sense than the way we do things in the USA- “wait until someone is hurt and then we might ban it”. I hope the European practice spreads!

        • The good news for the US is that a number of cities here have passed it–and the EPA has been trying to get a Toxics Release Reform Act passed that would instill the precautionary principle ever since Obama came to office and appointed Lisa Jackson administrator. Unfortunately, not enough of our Congress agrees, so we need to voice our opinion to them. As it stands now, we are not just waiting until someone gets hurt to withdraw a gmo or toxic chemicals; we are waiting until we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that particular gmo or chemical caused a particular harm (not so easy in a complex environment in which we are exposed to so many things).

    • You bring up a good point about things that humans create. There are things that we create that support a lifestyle of greater comfort through efficiency. But this efficiency may in turn lead to greater heath issues such as stated in this article. It seems as we drift further from the natural sources of our foods, we wind up causing greater harm than good. Also, we tend to suffer when we do not have the patience to fully understand the environmental consequences of our technology. Your example of storing nuclear waste is quite relevant where I live as “low level” radioactive waste is stored in the western part of Utah.

      • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we used our creativity to live in concert with natural systems and to repair our current social and environmental ills?
        My own stance via nuclear power is that we should not be using it until we figure out what to do with the waste so that we aren’t passing it on to future generations to figure out how to protect themselves from what we have left behind.

  19. The very first time I heard of genetically modified food was when I was a freshman in high school. My agriculture teacher was explaining how this amazing technology would save humanity from hunger. Even then I can remember myself thinking that there was something wrong with playing God and inserting the DNA of different species into each other. I first saw a video about Monsanto’s domination of seed and the plant life when I was in my freshman year of college. It was definitely an eye opening film. It took a few years before I could act on my desire to move away from this food system. My husband and I make a concerted effort to buy organic and I am trying to hone my skills to learn how to plant and grow my own food. I really hope and pray that the fight against GMOs continues and I feel like the heart of this battle is being taken up by developing nations who are most threatened by the corporate greed that drives patents on life. It makes me a little sad that I can look back and clearly see this biotech timeline created in my young life. An idea to “save the world” snowballed into this all consuming monster that seeks to claim ownership of living matter. What an arrogant sentiment.

    • Thanks for sharing your personal journey of growing awareness and choices, Lindsay.
      Thoughtful points about corporate greed: it is sad that in your “young life” you need to deal with this technological threat.
      I am heartened by the large number of those massing to confront Monsanto on a large number of its practices, both social and environmental.
      And though feeding the world is an idea used by Monsanto to sell its projects to us, I wonder if that has ever really been their guiding principle.

    • Lindsay- your point about arrogance is right on! Who are we to think that we can go in and do something better that has been naturally evolving for millenia??? That is why we can’t see the long term consequences- because everything is so interdependent and interconnected that when we tug on one part of the web, the whole thing shakes…

      Peace, Jen

    • Lindsay, your comments on corporate greed is unfortunately all to common in our economic system. I have seen it in the energy industry where the dollar is the bottom line, not environmental awareness and health. It is sad to see money hungry corporations seeking their own interests in a world where we pollute our earth for individual gain. It seems that they are motivated to clean up the environment only when forced by some agency or if they somehow get credit for doing something good.

      • Yet again, your comment highlights how we need to figure out a different motive than profit as the king of our decision-making processes– or at least re-define profit so that we are not merely speaking of putting more bucks into the pockets of a few.

  20. These articles sadden me. I have always been one to roll my eyes at people who preach about conspiracy theories and our untrustable government but as I learn more and more about how the government deals with our food industry (and I am sure countless other ethical issues) I am beginning to see that the government is just another puppet to big business. How can a government be for it’s people if they can be sold to the highest bidder? The atrocities that Monsanto has been getting away with for so long are sickening and scary. Is there really room for change if corporations are running this country instead of the people? I hope so because I will continue to fight with my dollar and it is great that so many people are fighting for health as well. The good thing is that companies such as Monsanto are being exposed by great people such as Michael Pollan, Michael Moore and countless others.

    • You pose an essential question indeed, Jessica, in pondering how a government can respond to the needs of its people if it is “sold to the highest bidder” (as in lobbying and corporate campaign financing– or corporations that own a large proportion of our mass media).
      On the other hand, we do vote and we do choose what we consume — thanks for continuing to “fight with your dollar”. Information is very important in the struggle to restore our country to a one person/one vote democracy in which life has more legal standing than corporate “people”.
      Conspiracy theory is one thing: the fact that we foster a system which rewards greed is another.

  21. It seems that the widespread use of GMOs is in direct violation of the precautionary principle. We are using these products without really knowing the consequences of what they are doing to our bodies and our environment. We’re only now beginning to see the possible consequences, such as the loss of biodiversity through gene drift and the possible human ramifications. I’m not particularly surprised that so many adults I know are developing allergies to food they never had before or can no longer tolerate gluten. The use of GMOs is purely driven by profit and I do not trust Monsanto with a 10 foot pole. We would all be better off by going back to traditional, sustainable farming practices that encourage fertility in the land. This is the only way to ensure long-term survival of our population. By using GMOs and the concurrent excessive use of pesticides and chemicals, we are poisoning the same land we are depending on to support us.
    I am also glad you mentioned the use of bovine growth hormone— the use of this product truly scares me and I absolutely refuse to eat any products that use it. I am certain it is a human endocrine disrupter and a large cause and promoter of hormonally-drive cancers. I know the use of GMO soy has also been linked to some scary things, such as major birth defects and health problems. This all gives rise to the likelihood that these GMO products are truly toxic to us and our environment. Until all products that use GMOs are labeled, I will continue doing my best to purchase and consume products that are labeled GMO-free, or better yet, rely more on whole foods than processed.

    • Thanks for the additional information in terms of gmo dangers, Jillian.
      Some very good points here. You are not the only one who is convinced about bovine growth hormone. It is outlawed in Europe precisely because of the solid research data in this respect.
      It is unconscionable that gmos are not labeled (when such labeling is supported by the overwhelming majority of the US public) so that individuals cannot make their own decisions about whether to ingest them.
      And I also do not trust any organization that has fought an expensive legal battle to protect their right to place their products in our food without our knowing it. (What’s wrong with this picture?)

    • Jillian,

      I found your mention of adults starting to develop food allergies that they had not previously had before interesting. I was recently diagnosed with IBS about three years ago. It came on very suddenly, I do not have a family history of it, and never really suffered from digestive problems as a kid or young adult. The whole reason I began to find out about GMOs is because I was getting so frustrated by the fact that my IBS was out of control with no good remedies in sight. I went looking for answers and found Monsanto. That was part of the reason I switched to whole organic foods. Since then I have seen a dramatic decrease in my symptoms. I can’t help but think the two are connected. I find it frightening that the most basic substance for life, food, is being so horribly mistreated. I took a class last semester about indigenous peoples. One of the video lectures was by an elder who specialized in plant medicine and she mentioned how we should honor our meals and remember their connectivity to the Earth. I thought that was a memorable quote in our fast food, microwave dinner society.

      • What Jillian mentions about adult onset allergies is a trend raising concern among allergists and epidemiologists, Lindsay. There is some data– though I don’t know of any substantiated studies so far that GMOs are at least partially undigestable to some humans. And this makes sense to me, since we evolved to eat food with certain genetic codes. This, by the way, is the problem with feeding corn to cows– which makes all kinds of havoc in their digestive systems.
        I only which that gmos were labeled so that those in your situation might be able to more easily avoid them–and others might wish to try the same tact.
        The indigenous elder is not the only one who has this reasonable idea that we reverential toward that which sustains us–Wendell Berry once remarked that we should not consume anything we are not willing to pray over.

  22. It would seem to me that we do indeed have enough food production, at least in the US, to support other nations that struggle with this. The ability to secure food from corrupt organizations in nations that desperately need assistance is a constant struggle. The commercialization of food products seem to have put the local producers out of business as well. When it comes to producing products that are economically enticing, the heath of our children, ourselves and environment seem to take a back seat. This essay makes me want to check everything that I buy now.

    • Good point about food processing here, Chris. We do indeed lose much of potential calories that might feed the world when we process food–and also transport it over long distances.
      And just this last month yet another study came out that shows that we have more than enough food to feed the world– if it is properly distributed.

  23. What an informative article. I was actually surprised about the fact that 90% of all processed foods contain GMO’s; I knew it was a high percentage but this just makes me leery when I think about all the things I have eaten over the past couple of years. I think it is a shame that food distributors (or perhaps I should call them manufacturers) will genetically alter natural crops to gain a profit at the risk of the consumers health. People who live on a budget may still choose these products over the healthier alternatives even though they are aware of what is in them if they are cheaper; this issue seems to be cohesive with the ‘making products cost effective’ portion of the sustainable technology article. I hope that in the future we can eliminate these harmful foods from our grocery stores by making the healthy, organic ones cheaper and globally dispersed.

  24. Though I can see sometimes, there are benefits, perhaps, to some gene research, the fact remains that as I’ve said before I believe in a natural order, and generally, am not surprised when treading on the toes of God appears to backfire. I believe in being VERY careful when playing with genetics so as not to go to far, if to alter at all. Even from a more practical standpoint, as you point out, genes that we don’t want to spread could do so, and when playing with something so drastic to life, that we know so little about…well, again, I line from a show I once saw had a group of characters standing around. I forget the context, but one exclaimed: “We played God with God! Now He’s playing God with us-and He’s a lot better at it!”

    I bring that up, again, to highlight the dangers of mucking about in the very building blocks of life-His handiwork, in my opinion, and how horribly wrong we can find that will quickly go.

    • I appreciate the new context you bring to the idea of gene alteration and humans trying to play the role of God. First off, I don’t think he appreciates it very much because I hardly think it’s anyone’s intent that their creation deliberately try to reproduce what has already been created in their own way- but I suppose that’s not the point of the article. What I gathered from reading the article is that some people have no problem messing around with God’s creation, no matter the drastic consequences- until they realize the consequences are too much for them to handle.

      • Let us hope we learn our lessons around this sooner rather than later. I am heartened by the groundswell of protest against Monsanto’s behavior in several arenas– like the Polish ban on bt corn that was harming honeybees and the fight to label gmos in the US.

    • Yet more reasons to assume a bit of humility that might lead us toward the precautionary principle, Thomas. I think we can legitimately do the gene research that allows us to take stem cells from one part of our own body and inject it into another to coax that part to regenerate itself– which lends hope to repair of certain spinal cord injuries, for instance. Since stem cells are so abundant in umbilical cords, some parents are having those stem cells of their children frozen so as to be available should some future need arise.
      But that is a whole lot different from Monsanto’s response to the “super-weeds” that have come up in the wake of its Round Up ready corn, which has been to petition the government that it be able to resurrect the infamous herbicide known as Agent Orange and engineer a crop that can withstand that as an herbicide to go after those “super-weeds” (as if that is not just upping the ante on the same process).

  25. I didn’t know it was so hard to control the reproduction and spread of gmo’s. The whole plot line of the feud between the farmers surprised me a lot, jus to think about all the money and time that went into the controversy. With that said, I’ve never been on track for genetically-altered anything-and that would include crops. I’ve never understand the point of it besides very selfish intentions to further someone’s own pursuit of their ideas of what humans are capable of, and it is justified in “the name of science.” I don’t think anything should be done with those intentions, in which any point besides making a name for yourself is difficult to define. The spread of genes may not be something I understand very well, but I do understand that it leads to dangerous scenarios that, once they occur, are out of human control. Do humans want to be responsible for that kind of danger? Do scientists who want to make more money by selfishly playing the creator, on;y to find what they’re doing leads to circumstances completely out of their control? I would hope not.

    • Joce,

      This whole scenario with gene transfers and splicing in the name of science and profit makes me thing of a Michael Crichton novel. A lot of his books, while fiction, tell the story of technology out of control followed by the price that people pay in the long term. I never thought I would be living in a fiction novel, but it looks like some of those stories may be coming true. I like how you said that these practices are being justified in the “name of science” because I can’t think of any other way you could present these statements. We couldn’t say “We are splicing genes with unknown ramifications at the expense of human health in the name of God (…in the name of integrity,…in the name of hope….in the name of justice…??).

      • Thoughtful points, Lindsay–and scary ones, since we seem to have enough knowledge to predict the future, we might wish to avoid inciting its more dire possibilities.
        I like your counter, that we might do this in the name of “hope, or justice, or integrity”– if not in the name of the future of life on the planet…

    • On the other hand, there are scientists of integrity– like those behind the Union of Concerned Scientists who do not feel that gmos should be propagated “in the name of science”. Indeed, the legal battle you refer to here indicates that bioengineering is more often done in the name of profit.
      I think denial and single mindedness is a large part of the technique in which those who manufacture products with such dangers attached to them avoid their responsibility.
      Thanks for your comment.

  26. I began to research where exactly Monsanto corn appeared in my family’s diet. With a little online sleuthing, I learned that in addition to producing the genetically modified corn, Monsanto produces several other genetically modified crops such as soy, sugar beets, and cotton. Many of these crops form the foundation of our diets: 70 to 80 percent of American processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients, according to the Grocery Manufacturers of America. A large percentage of the cotton in our clothes and homes begins in Monsanto’s labs.

  27. Was this update written by the same person (“J.K.”) who wrote the original? I worked briefly for someone by that name about 7 years ago at a company matching the description in the original article (since deleted and replaced with this one, it appears). If so, I am interested in how his views have changed so dramatically since then.

    • Sorry for the confusion, Michael. Actually, I (Madronna) wrote both the original and the update. I write all the material for this site– although I occasionally quote others. Unfortunately, I cannot help you trace anyone you previously worked with.
      I am about to update this piece once again using the material of two genetic engineers who have recently come out against genetic engineering used in agriculture (as opposed to medicine), after they evaluated the research in this field. It is not unprecedented for good scientists to change their minds about the benefits of genetic engineering once they look at the data and/or experience the process by which agricultural bioengineering takes place.
      Watch for the coming update soon: these scientists list some twenty separate problems with the use of genetic engineering in agriculture that might explain why a worker who was formerly positive about genetic engineering might well change their mind on closer examination. Perhaps this may help answer your question even if I can neither locate nor question any former colleague for you.

    • And should it prove useful, here is a link to the summary of the article by the genetic engineers (which also features a link to the 160 page report they authored):

      http://earthopensource.org/index.php/news/60-why-genetically-engineered-food-is-dangerous-new-report-by-genetic

  28. I’m a nutrition major because food is my passion. I’ve been told by some that they are very surprised at how particular I am about the food I eat. It’s problems like Monsanto that are what make me be so particular!
    It is so frustrating for me though to not have the time or the money as a college student to always eat what I want to eat. Organic products are my preferred, yet I don’t always have the money to purchase them. Not eating processed foods is not particularly an issue for me because I love to cook, but I find myself eating the same things over and over because I don’t have the time investment or energy to cook many other things because I don’t have 40 minutes or 2 hours to cook what I’d like to eat (butternut squash is an example. I love it, but I don’t have an hour to dedicate to peel, cut, and cook it).
    I took a look at the link about products that may have GMO ingredients and I know it shouldn’t surprise me by now but many of the GMO list foods are the higher calorie and less nutrient dense options anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jelly Belly on the Non-GMO list, since I harbor a love for jelly beans!

    • You don’t have to peel butternut squash, just put it in the oven while you are doing something else (homework?) at home and take it out and then spoon it out of the skin. Do poke it with a fork before hand so it the steam does not make it explode during cooking. Just place on a tray and cook at around 350-375 until tender. You can also do double duty by baking potatoes or roasted beets or garlic at the same time. Beets do need to be quartered but quite yummy.
      It does take planning to soak beans, etc. over night ahead of time, but you can have them cooking in a bit pot while you are doing other things (then you don’t have to cook for several days, just eat what you have made– you can also freeze part of the beans for quick alternative to processed microwave foods). My favorite with beans is to throw in an onion, garlic, whole or dried tomatoes (dry them myself), cumin, a little sage and chili pepper and let them all cook up on low. It does take planning and getting into the habit of soaking beans the night before. And for fast beans, tiny French lentils cook VERY quickly after they have been soaked.
      Processed foods ARE the high calorie and gmo (not to mention, sugar-corn syrup containing ingredients).

  29. Hi, I just wanted to bring out a topic on GMO that I found residents of California just don’t understand. In the recent election few days ago, there was a proposition number 37, which if passed required labeling of Genetically modified food. 57% of our Californian residents voted No! (http://vote.sos.ca.gov/returns/ballot-measures/).

    Despite all the controversies regarding this proposition, why would anyone want to vote “No” on not knowing what is in the food they eat daily??

    • Very important question, Shailesh. Why indeed would folks vote against their own right to know?
      I think it this had to do with the million dollar a day ad blitz by the likes Monsanto during the last days of the campaign, saying things like GMO labeling would increase the consumer food dollar (though it wouldn’t). It is telling that this initiative had overwhelming voter approval before the corporate dis-information media blitz. The “quote of the week” on this site cites the initiative sponsor’s response to the vote, which emphasizes the need for a continuing public information campaign– this resilient and populous community group are not giving up on the public’s right to know.
      And by the way, for those interested in avoiding gmos, I am posting the list of anti-prop 37 contributors on the “do not buy” list here in the next day or two. Seems like they revealed themselves as sellers of gmos.
      Thanks for your comment!

  30. I do think there are growing problems with GMO foods, however, I think that trying to make crops that will grow in countries that don’t have very good soil and climate, to grow foods with essential nutrients that our bodies need but that many people cannot get through the foods they currently can grow, is important. There are many countries in Africa and Asia that can’t grow certain crops and they are the same countries that suffer from the most nutrient deficiencies. I think that if a corporation can create a food that is nutrient dense, it could reduce the number of people in the world who suffer from a nutrient deficiency. Not all companies are creating GMO foods just for the yield of a crop and its monetary value.

    • It would be nice if science good create such agriculture– that is what biotech corporations would have us believe, Ruth. But the report of the Union of Concerned Scientists (linked in this essay) indicates that many gmo crops yield less than their conventional counterparts; the essay here on the women of Bangladesh indicates how traditional biodiverse agricultural was better for yields and the land, and the essay “The Trouble with Progress” cites a survey of world agriculture that indicates that the problem with many gmo crops is that they need more nutrients and water- not at all suitable to desertifying lands. In Africa, a more productive counter-trend consists of agro-forestry, in which trees and undercrops are planted in a biodiverse fashion. Two examples of this are in Tanzania, where large former desert lands have been reclaimed with this tactic and in Kenya, the original home of the Greenbelt Movement spearheaded by Wangari Maathai (there is also on essay about her on this site) which has been responsible for planting millions of trees throughout the continent.
      There are no magic bullets– and we need especially to critically evaluate those put forth as part of agribusinesses’ profit margin.
      Ironically, agribusiness tactics are not only NOT reclaiming African lands, but spreading infertility in North America, in what were formerly some of the most fertile lands in the world.

    • GMO crops for the starving millions is massive propaganda. What happens when these people become fed? These are the same individuals that subsisted off of the land for hundreds if not thousands of years with no problem on local nutrient dense foods until forced from their land so that it could be farmed for these ‘savior’ crops. Some believe that birth control is being bred into the crops because that is an actual experiment that bioengineering was testing, along with drugs being grown in the crops, and also of course, chemicals. What better testing lab than a bunch of starving people, displaced, to conduct your biotech experiments? Biotech companies pull at our heart strings in order to grow sketchy crops. We are already seeing that these gmo crops are not working as they are told. And, once the crops are gone, the soil will most likely be contaminated with the heavy use of chemicals added to them to make them grow. It is so complex these issues.

  31. Given that Monsanto’s crops do not yield as promised and that the seeds spread and infect neighboring crops I still find it hard to believe that with all of the now transparency that is out there regarding the ills of Monsanto that they still flourish in court cases. They are like the horrible bill collector that knows the law so well only so they can break it without the client even knowing. I have read articles that state research shows that organs shrank in animals that were fed gmo corn. The biggest issue recently regarding all of this is that Monsanto is asking the court’s permission to trick the public and not allow informed consent regarding food purchases. The public at large does not want to eat gmo foods but we are being ultimately forced to do so because we cannot ban what we do not know to ban. It is disgusting. I donated a lot of money to the Percy Schmieser fund many years ago. Monsanto is corrupt is is allowed to continue its corruption because many of the previous officers of the company are now within our government within varying positions, including the FDA. I believe this to be a conflict of interest in the most serious of ways. Especially since Monsanto’s rep’s famous quote along the lines of ” it isn’t our responsibility to ensure our products are safe to consume. that is the FDA’s job”. Enough said right there.

    • Not a bad analogy between Monsanto and the bill collector with no ethics– just legal weapons and the motive to get whatever they can from the debtor. Certainly, such folks are breaking moral laws even if they can manipulate civil laws.
      Thanks for giving us these additional details about Monsanto’s tactics, Renee. Not a pretty picture for ourselves or for other living things in our ecosystems.

  32. I know that I have a different reaction when I eat GMO soy to when I eat non- GMO soy it is a bit alarming to see the difference.
    I feel horrible for the women and farmers that are committing suicide with the loss of their crops. How could we allow such a larger corporation to have so much power that they can get away with murder and no one makes a sound?
    We are using up to much of our natural resources on crops that are failing to yield.
    From what I know about monsanto’s they really pay dirty when it comes to non compliant farmers. I heard a story where in small town they would go to all the farmers and ask them to buy their seeds if everyone said no they would find the poorest farmer and offer him a lifetime supply of free seed! of course the farmer trying to provide for his family would say yes. They when his crops would pollinate the other farmers crops monsantos would come in a sue them all! they would most of the time drop the charges if they agreed to buy and use GMO seed.
    This is unacceptable and need to be stopped.

    • I agree with you that this is kind of manipulation (and loss) of lives for the sake of profit is “unacceptable and needs to be stopped”. Monsanto is one of the worst offenders against democracy and basic human ethics in its search for profit.

    • I think that one of the worst things going on Monsanto is the story you brought up about the ability of the company to sue when their “product” ends up migrating naturally into other fields. Not only does it compromise organic products, the farmers dont even know that the seed is in their fields. They should at least have to guarantee containment before they can abuse our democracy and justice system in order to increase their own profits. unfortunately I don’t think this will happen until the all public demands it by not buying their products. I dont think this will happen because organic products now come with to high a monetary cost for the poorer in our society to purchase on a regular basis.

      • I am truly hoping that this will happen sooner than later, because people are starting to see what the future holds with all this GMO business, and little by little I think the people will speak out until change is made. I hope anyway!

      • There is another dangerous legal ability possibly coming Monsanto’s way in the new Farm Bill, which is a rider allowing Monsanto to be excused from responsibility for all damage from their products. Check out the Union of Concerned Scientists website for a better approach to the Farm Bill now being debated in Congress.

  33. It amazes me that people think they know what is better for the environment than the environment does. Humans, a product of nature, haven’t been around from more than 200,000 years whereas anatomically modern humans have only been around for as long as 90,000 years. Beyond this, we have only been manipulating agriculture, naturally, for about 10,000 years. Even worse we only discovered the shape of DNA in 1953. How can man expect to have mastered manipulation of the make-up of life in 60 years, when the earth has been around for over 4 billion years. If that doesn’t work for you there is a more biblical reasoning for not messing with the genetic make-up of food. Most Americans identify as some denomination of Christian. They then believe that when God created the world if was perfect. Changing DNA means that we see ourselves as above God, since scientists are changing DNA to make the plants better, to produce more. We have given up on our base moral code by manipulating the purity of our food, and all for money and increased profit.

    • It takes great pride–and foolishness– to assume that we know better than the natural systems that have taken so long to reach their complex balance. We have so much to learn from what is– but this tinkering with things like the seeds we rely on for survival is like cutting out and re-pasting pages of a book in a new order because we think we know how to tell the story better than the author. And sadly, like destroying natural libraries, book by book (and species by species, as in the many extinctions we are causing or in the “terminator” seed engineered to self-destruct that is migrating to other seedstocks than the one the engineers designed for it) before we have even read it.

  34. Every time I read about Monsanto, my blood pressure goes up. It just makes me ill what they are able to get away with! These ‘great new things’ they come up with are not even needed, it’s wasteful, and it’s killing people in our communities! We don’t buy GMO foods, we buy organic if at all possible, and we make nearly anything we can make without buying processed. I just don’t get how people are not outraged about this.

    • I think your anger is appropriate with response to a corporation that is “killing people in our communities”– as in those many effected with kidney failure in Central America and Asia because of exposure to RoundUp (see the “Do Not Buy List” here).
      Humans have a tremendous capacity to see only one thing and block out all others– but it seems that the “others’ in this case are going to get more and more emphatic.

  35. Genetically modified foods have always puzzled me. Yes they taste good for the most part but they are completely unnecessary. I mean if you want to eat an apple that tastes like grape just take a bite of apple and pop a grape in your mouth and chew. Genetically modified foods are unhealthy, unnecessary and expensive. It seems to me that there is no point to them except to give scientists something to do when they get bored.

    • Besides giving “scientists something to do when bored” (I appreciate your irony here), gmos, give corporations like Monsanto a way to make more profit by claiming things (such as increased yield and lower pesticide use) that do not actually result from their products.
      And speaking for myself, I don’t really enjoy the taste of gmos. Give me a well-grown organic veggie any day.

      • I think what Kelsey is referring to, moreso than the genetic modification at the pre-growth level is the marketability of chemically altering the end products like those flavored apples or many of the highly processed foods with years-long shelf lives. The fact that they have tried, and succeeded in making the consumer believe that fresh and natural isn’t actually best, we need to somehow change that too….it’s really awful!

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