GMO’s are organisms that have had their natural genetic structure altered by literally forcing the genes of unrelated plants, animals, insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses and even human genes into the host plant’s embryonic cells using a virus as a vector to infect the host and spread the new gene. I don’t know what your spiritual beliefs are, but I don’t believe the Creator intended rice and mice to splice. And spirituality aside, there are serious concerns as to how these genetically modified foods act upon the human and animal body when consumed over a long period of time.
Many Americans believe that it is the job of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect consumers from the potential dangers that might come from eating or growing GMO’s. They also have been led to believe that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental Safety are there to make sure that GMO’s don’t pose a threat to other life forms. But these beliefs are not only untrue, but give the general public a false sense of security, which in turn allows the mega-corporations plenty of room to do as they please.
The real truth is that the FDA has never conducted a single study on the safety of consuming or growing GMO’s. Instead, they rely entirely on information supplied to them from the purveyors of false science and lobbyists paid for by Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and other biotech/chemical companies whose sole interest is not to “feed the world”, as their PR touts claim, but to make money for themselves and their shareholders.
There are, however, more than just a few independent studies that have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only do GMO’s not produce more food than conventionally bred crops, but that the physical effects of consuming them have disastrous consequences for humans and animals alike. If the health and well-being of human lives do not stir the general populace to reject GMO’s outright, perhaps the loss of their ability to grow and save the seed from non-GMO food crops – including those in their very own gardens – will.
Unfortunately, Pandora’s Box has been opened by greed and there is no going back. We can’t just gather up all the genetically modified plants and put them, their pollen and the seeds they have generated back inside the box. The biotech industry understands this all too well, which is why they are buying more and more small seed companies, genetically modifying as many food crops as possible, as fast as possible, and patenting plant varieties that you and I generally consider “heirloom” varieties that have and always should belong to the people of the world.
Even the casual seed saver understands the concept of pollination, which is the natural movement of pollen from one plant to another in order to produce fruit and seed. And even though GMO’s are not “natural” in any reasonable sense of the term, that does not stop them from passing their genes on to non-GMO food crops, like the sweet corn or beets or edamame in your very own vegetable garden – a fact that the biotech giants have known about from the very beginning.
Way back in 1998, scientists at the University of Chicago were experimenting with genetically modifying a variety of mustard to be herbicide resistant. And although no known gene effecting floral characteristics was altered, the workers noticed that the genetically modified flowers looked a little different from those on the un-altered plants.
Though the scientists thought this change was unlikely to be significant, they decided to test the modified plants’ out-crossing rates, or the rate at which pollen successfully pollinates a female flower to produce viable seed in comparison to the non-altered plants. It turned out that the genetically engineered mustard had over 20 times the out crossing rate of the standard mustard.
In short, the pollen from the genetically engineered mustard was over 20 times more likely to successfully reproduce than its natural counterpart growing right next to it. This disturbing fact spells disaster for non-GMO crops grown in the same region as open pollinated and organic crops, and its outcome has already been felt by farmers all over the world. Over the last 16 years, the number and varieties of commercial GMO crops have exploded.
It’s not just flour corn and soy, but wheat, rice, beets, squash, papaya, apples, tomatoes and many other common food crops – and the list is growing every year. Even if you don’t intend to grow GMO crops, if you live anywhere near where they are being grown, there is a more than real threat of contamination through the pollination process.
What’s even more disturbing is that crop farmers and backyard gardeners have no recourse to GMO contamination. Jere Gettle, founder of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, said in his seed catalog that finding corn seed that has not been contaminated by GMO’s is almost impossible. Even if you have a moral opposition to GMO’s you are probably eating them right now, because they are found in almost every type of pre-packaged foods imaginable.
GMO’s are so pervasive in our food system that even organic standards now allow for small percentages of GMO contamination. The only way any of this is going to change is by consumers demanding the labeling of all products that contain GMO ingredients and by boycotting any corporation that fights against labeling. It is our right as consumers to know what is in the food we grow and in the food we buy.
The next step is to buy and grow only open-pollinated and heirloom seeds from companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge and avoid those that have affiliations with biotech firms such as Monsanto and their garden seed brands, Seminis and DeRuiter, which sell seeds to other seed companies not owned by Monsanto.
Last, but not least, if you already farm or garden then it is time to learn to save at least some of your own seed. Seed saving is not only fun for the whole family; it’s super easy to do, especially if you are already gardening or farming. By saving seed, you will help preserve and enhance the genetic diversity of one of the world’s most precious resources.
Seed saving also allows you to be prepared for hard times or sudden disaster; it also allows you to control where your seed comes from and gives you the power to create regionally adapted varieties that are better suited to your growing conditions. Saving seed can help you avoid GMO contaminated food and animal feed and can literally save you a ton of money every year for the rest of your life.
In most cases, just a few plants are all you need to obtain thousands of seeds – enough for yourself and everyone you know for years to come! And saving seed will not only save you a ton of money, but will diversify your variety choices, increase genetic diversity among food crops, preserve old and family heirlooms and provide a skill that you can pass on to future generations.
The Neem Tree, Environment, Culture and Intellectual Property
NPG: Background Paper on the Neem Patent Challenge
Wild Garden Seed: Plant Patents on Common Vegetables
Johnny’s Select Seeds: Understanding Utility Patents and Plant Variety Protection (PVP)http://www.johnnyseeds.com/assets/information/understanding_utility_patents_and_pvp.pdf
The FDA Does Not Test Whether GMOs are Safe an excerpt from Chapter 2, Seedy Business by Gary Ruskin
Show Me Oz | Living and loving life in the Ozarks!
Gardening, foraging, herbs, homesteading, slow food, nature, and more!
© Jill Henderson
As the world food and seed supply is being been hijacked by powerful corporate interests, saving seeds is a skill that everyone needs to learn to survive. Praised by gardeners and seed savers alike, this little no-nonsense book will teach you everything you need to know to start saving your own organic seeds right now – and do it in less than 50 pages. Look inside!
Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons and Illuminati Agenda 21 can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore. Jill is a featured columnist for Acres USA and a contributing author to Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and her work has appeared in The Permaculture Activist and The Essential Herbal.
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