What is the big deal about GMOs?
I am sure that by now you have heard the term GMO or genetically modified organism thrown around a lot. You might even be tired of hearing about it because you think that this matter doesn’t concern you. Yet, I am going to bring it up once more because I believe GMOs affect all of us as consumers.
GMOs are: “an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.” (source)
Sounds scary? It should.
The truth behind GMOs is simple. We don’t know enough about them to decide whether they are good or bad for our bodies. I am not saying that all GMOs are detrimental to our health. I cannot say that because I am not a scientist who has studied them extensively. I do, however, know that there haven’t been enough tests conducted that can tell us definitively: ‘GMOs are not unhealthy’. That’s why I, as a consumer, want to know whether the food I am buying has been made using genetically modified organisms.
But how can I possibly know that? GMOs aren’t required to be labeled at stores. The makers don’t have the obligation to tell consumers what is it exactly that they are consuming. This is outrageous to me. Ingredients lists have to be disclosed but GMOs don’t? Doesn’t it seem fishy to you? To me, it definitely does.
Because of the lack of labeling regulations, regular Americans often have no idea just how much food they ingest has been genetically modified.
93% of the planted area of soybeans in the US are genetically modified varieties. These soybeans carry traits that make them tolerant to herbicides. Similarly, 93% of cotton and 86% of corn have been genetically modified to both tolerate soybeans and be protected from insect damage. Do you know what’s really terrifying? These statistics are from 2010. The current numbers are bound to be much higher. In 2003, the Grocery Manufacturers of America estimated that at least 70 to 75% of all processed food contained ingredients that were genetically modified. (source)
These traits are added through unnatural means so that the producers can manufacture more food of seemingly better quality. But the problem with genetically modified food is that we don’t know what the long-term effects of ingesting GMOs are. Some studies have indicated that GMOs can lead to kidney and liver damage in laboratory animals (source). These organs are responsible for removing toxins from our body and I do not want to risk them becoming damaged.
I don’t feel like it’s too much to ask for clear labels that will let me know whether the food I’m buying has been genetically modified. People should be free to make their own informed choice. But I cannot do that if this vital information is being deliberately withheld from me. I have never volunteered to become a test subject for this GMO experiment. Have you?
Have you ever wondered why is it so hard to get producers to put GMO labels on their food? As it turns out, this rabbit hole is quite deep.
Who is to blame?
The answer is simple: big corporations. Corporations that are only interested in making a profit without any regard for the will of their customers.
If you live in California then I am sure you are aware of the Proposition 37. Proposition 37, if passed, will require food manufacturers to put appropriate labels on their products if they were made using genetically modified ingredients. Proposition 37 is what I am fighting for. But do you know who is fighting against it? Corporations like General Mills.
General Mills knows that if Proposition 37 is passed then their profits will take a drastic hit. That’s because most of their products have GMO in them and GMO still scares people. At this point, putting a ‘contains GMO’ label on your products is like advertising the fact that it might potentially cause you harm. So far, they have spent over $500,000 to lobby against Proposition 37. That’s how much they need it gone.
What can I do about it?
For starters, we need to spread awareness about GMOs and the General Mill’s shady activity. Calls for boycotting companies that advocate against GMO labels is a start.
Do you know the Larabar company? They are best known for making healthy energy bars but in 2008 they were acquired by General Mills.
I feel for the people at Larabar. It must be awful to be acquired by a corporation whose views don’t align with your own to such a degree. Their original ideals are now long gone and replaced with this money-making aspiration well known in corporate America. With pain in my heart, I am boycotting Larabar too. It’s the least I can do to try and get my point across. I will not purchase from companies that want to feed me and my family GMO-stuffed food.
I will not give my money to companies that actively work against my best interests and I urge you to do the same.
The Monsanto Company is the biggest player in the whole GMO scheme. They are a maker of genetically modified seeds and are also known as the maker behind the well-known and very toxic herbicide, Roundup.
Monsanto uses genetic engineering to make their own crops more marketable. They are cheaper and more resistant to pesticides and herbicides which makes them more attractive to prospective buyers. The GMO traits give them the advantage over local organic farms that rely on natural means of production. They are often the reason small farmers go bankrupt. This alone makes them a shady company already. But there is more.
Monsanto has been accused numerous times of poisoning people through improper pollution disposal and knowingly contaminating the environment. They have been sued and have settled by both its employees and residents of the sites where their farms are located (source). They do not care about lawsuits because they know they have the money to make them all disappear. If a company like that is trying to get their genetically modified food in the supermarkets then I don’t think I am in the wrong of suspecting them of trying to poison me as well.
The problem with Monsanto is the influence they hold in politics. They have lobbyists seemingly in every region of the country. They pay off law-makers to reject new legislation like Proposition 37. In 2008, they spent $8.8 million just on lobbying. Isn’t that ridiculous? Just how evil must your product be that it needs this much money to keep on supermarket shelves?
I don’t want corporations to control what I put on my table. I want to use what little influence I have to at least try making a change. If even one person reading this will agree with my point of view then I will be happy.
I am afraid that if nothing changes then soon there will be no healthy options out there. That we will have no choice but to eat General Mill’s GMO-filled protein bars. That’s not the future I want for my children.
So stand with me and fight for GMO labels because soon it might be too late.