Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Honest Food

Ms. Honeybee pollinating a broccoli plant.
We need MORE nature, not less, in
our gardens and our farms!

Over the past decade, I've taken to calling organic and non-GMO food, 'clean food.' I've used 'clean' as my adjective of choice for seeds, plants, varieties and food, using it to meanthis food that is not the product of industrial agriculture and the multi-national corporations that support chemicals and laboratory experiments on the DNA of plants destined to become food.

Having lost a fight to industrial agriculture with Proposition 37 going down to a narrow defeat, and having seen BIG AG at work, I am now calling organic and non-GMO food, 'honest' in addition to clean.

I've not been a part of a proposition campaign before, but I do keep up on politics. I can say without reservation, I was totally blown away by the amount of lying and the dirty tricks played by the 'No' campaign! It was disgusting and the lack of enforcement against them was appalling. The final straw for me was the other day hearing a 'No' operative explain on NPR that 'people just used their good sense to defeat a poorly written law...' I could have driven off the road in disgust, because, of course, that is the truth stood firmly on its head.

There was not one whit of truth in anything they said in their $43 million campaign – and the remarkable thing, in the end, was that they lied so much and it was still so close! I do not have to reiterate each one of their lies, that has been done amply elsewhere, but there was nothing in their entire arsenal that was honest: from the Stanford professor (he wasn't) to the study that said it would increase our food bill (they paid for the study to be done to show that and the history of other countries requiring labeling disproved that by historical fact vs the so-called study's 'findings'); nothing they said was true. Which brings us to wonder why they didn't lie to us about how wonderful GMO crops are? You will note, they did not say a single word about why we even needed GMOs.... like that was a foregone conclusion.

Now, after absorbing the sting of defeat (I do not like to lose!), I have been reflecting on the history of GMOs in the US food supply and, guess what? I can't find an honest representation in anything Big Ag says and wants us to believe as far as GMO's are concerned. Nothing they are doing can be backed up by science or common sense.

  • Feed the world.... Not by lowering the number of species we depend on for food! That is the way of starvation!
  • Help farmers.... Not by lowering the number of varieties available to plant. This is another starvation trap waiting to be sprung on us... This is run up to the Irish Potato Famine game being played out in America today.
  • Feed the world, Part II... Not by ridding the world of its seed heritage and attempting to replace it with patented seeds owned by multi-national corporations that don't have allegiance to even one country; only to profit.
  • Help farmers Part II.... Not by making farmers totally dependent on seeds from a company that has no skin in the game, see above.
  • Save the ecosphere... Not by polluting the ecosphere with all kinds of poisons! What does all this herbicide do to the critters in the soil (which are the real source of fertility, not chemicals)? No one knows because no one's bothered to study it.
  • Save the ecosphere Part II... Not by killing off so many insects that pollination is imperiled by a lack of insects.
  • Feed the world Part III... The world already produces enough food for 12 billion humans, with only 7 billion on the planet. Most of the starvation in the world comes from a lack of political will to change it.
  • Our products are harmless.... Are they? We don't know that. Only now are tests being performed that will determine the veracity of this statement. And when the tests are performed, they will face scrutiny from professional scientists that are getting Big Ag grant money. Like the NPR program I heard recently about the French researcher whose work showed 80% death rate of rats fed GMOs after two years. They cut over to an American researcher who stated the study was 'flawed science' because the Frenchman used a rat that was susceptible to tumors and cancer. If the story had ended there, all listening would have come away thinking 'silly Frenchman...' but NPR went back to the French scientist and asked him, “Why those rats?” He said, “I was replicating the Monsanto study used to get FDA approval. I used the same rats they used, but I ran my study two years while Monsanto's study ran 60 days.” (Emphasis mine)  Remember, Monsanto called Agent Orange safe too.
  • They increase yields.... Ah. Except, even the US Department of Agriculture, which is practically just a different address for Monsanto, did a 15 year study that stated, “there is no appreciable increase in yield” over the length of the study. In other words, all this hype about GMO plants is all for naught.
  • No till agriculture is good for the environment.... Not if you count a loss of top soil as bad for the environment! Current agriculture practices of spraying the very life out of the soil has not produced a viable method of controlling weeds and retaining top soil.
  • We will control the weeds without labor costs.... Not for very long you won't. And this is one of the things that really toasts my bagel: No one in agriculture, big or little, chemical or organic should have believed this one at all. If you spray One Thing for a bug or a weed, in a few years, the bug or weed becomes resistant to your One Thing, I don't care what it is. Invariably, it was only a matter of time before the weeds would be impervious to Round Up. I am shocked that Round Up Version 8 wasn't waiting in the wings. Apparently, it wasn't, which makes me think that Monsanto really didn't have a clue about what they were doing. Nature evolves. Maybe they were believing the anti-Darwin factions in the mid-west. But even if you believe in Creationism for the past, you have to admit that evolution is alive and well in the garden and the farm. Nature abhors monoculture and repetitiveness. Do the same thing long enough and nature finds a way to disrupt it. American agriculture is on the verge of a horrendous collapse because of it's disregard for the laws of Nature. You can lie to us, but you can't lie to Nature.

Companies pushing GMO agriculture have nothing to show for an almost 20 year run at this. They have no outside documentation to prove ANY of their claims. None. To the contrary, multiple sources are beginning to take issue with almost everything said about GMOs.

Here's the problem: if GMOs are allowed to proliferate, their pollen spreads to non-GMO plants, inserting itself into the environment in ways that are not understood (because no one bothered to research them) and may wreck considerable havoc with our world in the future. They may not, but from the track record of Monsanto and Big Ag, I am not reassured.

Honest food, our real food, can be corrupted. We, as consumers, as eaters, as bearers of children and as custodians of the earth and the future (comes with the territory, you don't get to opt in or opt out), have got to stand up for good, clean and honest food. Our next fight with Big Ag looms and we know now that they will lie to anyone and everyone from the start to the end.

Our next round is to get Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County declared GMO-free zones: no GMO organisms can be grown in the county or the city. This will help us ensure that the plants grown here are not contaminated with the genetically altered genes and will allow us to save seeds from the past that are the key to survival in the future. They are not GMO, they are not controlled by some malevolent corporation, nor can they be.  And it will send a message to those companies that they have just begun to dig into their profits to defend against an informed populace that is mad as hell and getting madder.

More on that ahead.

I wish you and yours a joyous and resplendent Thanksgiving and hope you will enjoy the whole day with loved ones and not be seduced into the madness of Black Friday or even Gray Thursday. The tradition of Thanksgiving is to look at what we have with gratitude and humility that we should be so blessed. I wish you the peace of that gratitude and humility.


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