GMO’s, Glyphosate, & Other Chemicals

A reason to buy organic…and a reason I despise Monsanto: Glyphosate

Let me backtrack for a moment here.  I grew up in a rural area – we had a garden every year (and not just your small 4×6 raised bed, but a BIG garden), my dad has tractors, cows, we had chickens at one point…my high school even had a barn and greenhouse that offered agriculture classes hands on experiences.  I even slaughtered chickens as part of a field trip and I was a member of the FFA.

Yes, the FFA, with those highly attractive blue corduroy jackets.  I loved being in FFA – and I still have a lot of respect and love for the organization.  If there were any schools around me with active chapters I would probably volunteer to help, but most schools around me have long since cut their agriculture programs.  I was given a lot of opportunities, learning experiences and leadership development moments.

However, during my time competing in extemporaneous public speaking competitions I was led to believe the biotechnology and GMOs were the thing that was going to end poverty and save the world.  Well…maybe it wasn’t THAT extreme, but not too far off.  I had to research the broad topic of global agriculture and ag marketing and then when I got to the competition I drew a topic blindly out of an envelope, had a few short minutes to write a speech and then had to give it, followed by questioning from the judges.  Many of the topics centered around the question of biotechnology.

Granted, back ten-ish years ago when I was competing, Bt and GMOs hadn’t been as extensively written about, and I could have given a speech with a dissenting opinion toward them, but I can tell you that I would have been in minority and likely questioned for questioning the “good news” that was Bt/GMO.  Many of the sponsors of the competitions and even the judges had ties to companies actively pursuing these areas, and much of the information I found in my research was put out by big ag.  So my speeches extolled the virtues of Bt/GMOs.  If only I could give them again.

We know…I know…so. much. more. now.

Glyphosate: the active ingredient in Roundup.  You know, that stuff (an herbicide) that you spray on your lawns to kill broadleaf weeds and such (Monsanto’s patent on glyphosate expired in 2000 so you can now find the stuff under other names in addition to Roundup).  It turns out it does a good job of killing things.  Which is why Roundup Ready (RR) corn and soybeans were introduced – so you could spray roundup on the crops without killing them, but instead killing the weeds.

I could write a novel on the toxicity of glyphosate and what it does – even though Monsanto and and other chemical companies (and why should chemical companies be dabbling with our food) would like you to believe it is completely safe.  It has been linked to endocrine (hormonal) disruption, neurological disorders, birth defects, DNA damage and cancer. Here is a great article from 2011 that shows the link between glyphosate and birth defects: http://www.scribd.com/doc/57277946/RoundupandBirthDefectsv5

It is rather long, but so worth the read.  Here is a great quote from page 7 that explains what happens when Roundup is applied to the crops:

“It is important to note that GM RR soy and other crops are tolerant rather than resistant to Roundup and glyphosate: that is, they absorb the herbicide and survive.  As a result GM RR crops are a reservoir of potentially high levels of glyphosate, which will then be ingested by animals or people who eat the crops.”

Cornbread with a side of glyphosate…no thank you.

As if glyphosate wasn’t enough now Dow AgroSciences are poised to challenge Monsanto, entering the GMO scene with 2,4-D tolerant crops that the USDA and EPA seem poised to grant approvals for by the end of the year, meaning that 2015 could see the introduction of corn and soybeans, closely followed by cotton.

What is 2,4-D?  It is an herbicide also found in many lawn care products…maybe you should go check what you have laying around before spring fully hits and you start applying these to your lawns…especially if you have kids.  Anyway, 2,4-D exposure risks include: cancer (particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), ALS (aka Lou Gherig’s disease), and male reproductive problems.

GMO crops were once touted as the next greatest thing – higher yields, less loss to weeds and a surefire way to end hunger.  We still have hunger problems – its not a matter of production, rather distribution.  We now have superweeds resistant to glyphosate (and resistance to 2,4-D will likely come quickly)…so we apply more and more herbicide.  And the higher yields, they have decreased year after year.

Soil quality has plummeted as it is stripped of  nutrients.  Food quality decreases.  Traditional, proven and good farming practices are vanishing.  Instead of piling on more and more chemicals, we need to return to basic farming practices.  Crop rotation, letting fields rest, proper fertilization (compost anyone?), and complimentary planting (or whatever you actually call that).

I know…our modern system of farming doesn’t support such practices, but our system is broken and as consumers we suffer.  This is a reason I grow my own garden with heirloom and organic seeds.  I like to try new varieties – many seed varieties have been lost in the last few decades.  I want to eat quality food, and you CAN taste the difference!

I may have gone on long enough now…thoughts?

Oh…and random thought since having a baby:

– Baby fingernails should only grow as their hands grow…because it is NOT easy to clip a squirming baby’s fingernails…and you don’t want your kiddo to shred his face with them

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