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GMO Food is the Biggest Experiment in Human Health Ever, Opt Out

BCseeds

I get quite a few of the seeds I plant in my garden from Baker Creek.

BCseeds

They’ve got a stunning variety of heirloom seeds (1,400 + in their catalogue) and a well earned reputation for quality.  One of the big benefits of buying from Baker Creek is that they test every batch of heirloom seeds they sell for contamination from GMOs (genetically modified/engineered organisms).

So, it was a little disheartening to find this note from Jere Gettle, the owner of the company:

During the past 8 years since we started testing each lot of heirloom corn we sell, we have found that about 50% of America’s heirloom corn supply is already contaminated with these unwanted, patented, and possibly dangerous, GMO varieties. We have pledged to not sell any seeds that come back positive for Monsanto’s genes in our test samples. Not only do we not believe in offering GMO tainted seeds, but we would also be faced with possible legal action for selling these unwanted genes.

Essentially, the contamination from GMOs is spreading horizontally through pollination.  Not only is this bad because it’s contaminating an entire species of vegetable, it has all of the hallmarks of a classic  ‘industry innovation run amok’ situation that has done so much damage to our financial and economic health recently.  In that recent situation, financial derivatives — a financial ‘innovation’ that Warren Buffett (the world’s most famous speculator) called “financial weapons of mass destruction” — almost destroyed the global economy.

To understand why GMOs are threat on a par with a global financial meltdown, you need to understand what they are.

GMOs are plants and animals that have been genetically engineered in a laboratory.   These plants and animals are so different from what we find in nature, they are considered new organisms.  How new?  Enough to be granted patent protection from the US government.

That wouldn’t be a problem if these plants and animals were constrained to the laboratory.  They aren’t.  They were introduced, without any more than a cursory testing period, into the food supply.  Over the past decade, they have become so pervasively used in agriculture, that most of the food available at the grocery store includes GMOs.

Here’s why this is dangerous.  We don’t know what the effect of eating designed genetic sequences, in large quantities throughout the day, will have on us.   Like the global financial system, but more so, our bodies are so complex we don’t really know how they work.

Here’s an example.  Until last year, the scientific community believed that a whopping 80% of human DNA was junk.  DNA that served no useful purpose.  It was even termed “junk DNA.”  That idea was proven false this year when it was found that this junk “DNA” is actually essential.  It controls of the expression of our genes (when, how, and to what degree they are used throughout our lifetime).

So, since we don’t even know how most of the DNA in our cells actually works, it’s pretty clear that we don’t have a clue what will happen when our daily diet is laced with genetic sequences that have been concocted in a lab.  This lack of certainty makes GMO foods the biggest experiment in human health ever conducted, and we’re all the guinea pigs.

Of course, you can opt out of this experiment before it runs amok (definition of amok: a murderous, frenzied rampage).

How?

Become resilient.   Grow some of your own heirloom vegetables.  Control the process.  Buy subscriptions that partner you with local farmers and artisan food producers that adhere to high quality production methods.

Do it before the rush to the GMO exit begins and you’ll be happy you did.

Resiliently Yours,

 

JOHN ROBB

Invent your future!  Don’t be its victim.

John-Robb

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • i received my rareseeds.com catalog a couple weeks ago and saw that paragraph on the corn… pretty sad.. but at least we know there is a place out there striving to bring gardeners corn seeds that do not have any GMO traits.

  • Rob

    That’s great that they are actually testing thier seed! They need to sue Monsanto for the cost of testing.

  • Very good point! People can argue if it is safe or not (and they do until the cows come home). But the bottom line is we don’t know – because we don’t have a complete understanding how our bodies work.

  • Lex

    This is a complicated subject, best confined to two facets: the unknown potential for unintended consequences and property rights. On the first, there are potent arguments for GMO agriculture. We don’t know if they’re good because the research has been almost entirely confined to installing pesticides in plant DNA or making them immune to industrial inputs. Neither of those speak directly to higher yields. Proponents will quickly equate hybrids with GMOs; that’s bunk. One is carful guiding of evolution while the other is winding it up and letting it go. Lynas went so far as to declare hybrids akin to terminator gene technology. As if … Sometimes hybrids don’t reproduce true from seed, often they do. Heirlooms are just very old hybrids that have solidified their traits.

    It would be interesting what GM research not controlled by the likes of Monsanto produced, but we’re unlikely to ever know.

    Property rights, however, is a strong argument. The seed catalog is right, selling seeds with GMO markers opens them and you up to patent litigation. That’s absurd, especially given that seed producers cannot reliably stop cross pollination. It’s a feature not a bug of you’re Monsanto.

  • Zed

    Your arguments are unusually unconvincing , John. Yes there are valid concerns around ownership of genetic sequences and the standing risk of monocultures, but modified sequences are not, per se, a danger to the health of humans or crops.

    The ‘so different from nature they can be patented’ line is just FUD-raising. The patent office signs off any old crap. As for what happens when you eat modified gene sequences? Exactly the same as when you eat unmodified gene sequences- they get digested and reabsorbed. Mmm, delicious carbon chains.

    • John Robb

      Zed, Simply, when it comes to our food and our biology, the standards of proof are very high. I don’t know what happen when we eat modified sequences on a population scale for a long period of time. Nobody does. That’s the problem. JR

      • Zed

        It’s DNA same as any other. It gets broken down. There’s not really a mechanism for long term effects.

        • John Robb

          Actually, you are wrong there. There’s a hundred trillion bacteria than live on or in the average human being. They play a large part in digestion and DNA does transfer to them. JR

          • Andrea

            Actually, bacteria too have means of identifying alien species DNA and breaking it down. They accept DNA from other bacteria, if it’s doing them good they thrive, if not they die and natural selection did it’s job. Plant and animal DNA won’t get integrated in our DNA or DNA of bacteria that live in us. DNA simply gets digested and can’t possibly be a threat to human health. I’m not defending Monsanto – I have a very low opinion of that company and I would be happy if it were to shut down. However, scientifically speaking, I haven’t found yet one valid research paper that proves that GMO food is dangerous for human health. I found many that say otherwise (and I read only the ones that were conducted by institutions not connected to Monsanto etc). If there is any valid research paper, methodologically correct, which proves that GMO is bad for health please send them to me, I will gladly read it and perhaps change my conclusions.

  • Patrick

    It’ll take a long time for folks to get a handle on epigentics.

    Heirloom is a vauge historical term. Many heirloom varities are not worth growing. These days it’s a marketing term for seed companies. Open pollinating is a better term to use. It has a clear definition. We need to preserve landraces and breed new open pollinated varities to local conditions, P2P plant breeding.

    Could you make a post that lists the foods with transgenics in them. That would be more helpful than advertising hokey baker creek. I can send you sources if you care to.

  • Raz

    Great article John. To only focus on the health issue however is to miss the real point. THIS IS A BUSINESS MODEL! Think about this. After a modest initial investment in the modified genes, normal biological, environmental, and meteorological processes spread Monsanto’s patented genes around the Earth. Net result: At some point Monsanto controls virtually all the corn on Earth. Next up are the rest of the cereal grains followed by any other viable foodstock. All this is foretold by the way in the great short story by Paolo Bacigaluppi “The Calorie Man”
    Read it- it’s terrifying

  • different clue

    So far only some species of plants have been targeted for GMO treatment. This means that species other than those targeted species are still by definition default-GMO-free. One can find out what those are and grow them to eat or buy them to eat (thereby paying to keep the genetic-defense-soldier/farmer in the field fighting).

    As to varieties of species that have been targetted for GMOing, one can only try to buy seeds of varieties that have not been deliberately GMOd. The long-range GMO-industry plan is to contaminate every individual plant on earth belonging to the targeted species. Then they can send their secret agent trespassers to any/every farm and/or garden and find one of their patented sequences in plant samples and extort the farmer/gardener into paying “technology license fees”. An aggressive defense against this would be to sue the GMO companies for nuisance/trespass/destruction of property values over every detected incident of GMO contamination. That would require a heavily-funded legal defense-offense fund to fight and advance such suits. Would GMO-rejecting members of the seed-buying public be willing to pay a one dollar fee per seed packet going to a militant legal defence-offense fund? There are any number of seed companies which reject and avoid GMO-polluted seeds as best they can in a world completely covered with drifting bioactive frankengene fallout.
    http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=261

  • Dan

    Another risk is the complete and irrevocable loss of one of our major staple crops. I would estimate it to be a small risk but not zero. Given how tight our food supply is, and the low ratio of arriable land per person; it would be horrific.

  • SunnyD

    Probably less of an experiment then food fads like veganism or experimenting with herbs and supplements.

    • John Robb

      Actually, no. It’s pervasive. In comparison, fads and experimentation is a lifestyle choice. The burden of proof for a pervasive change in human nutrition is very high.

      Regardless, the point of this letter is to show you that you don’t have to react to these changes with fear. You have options. You are in control of your future.

      JR

  • Mark_us

    Let’s explain what genetically modified food is. GMO is a plant or an animal whose genetic makeup has been modified though intentional intervention. There are two mechanisms which lead to GMO creation. The first case involves natural outcome of species crossing or standard DNA recombination. In the other method, the modifications of DNA makeup result from the use of modern genetic engineering technologies.

    • John Robb

      Mark, You are wrong, but it’s an easy mistake to make.

      GMO is a term, not a collection of words. It is an organism that has been modified by genetic engineering in a lab.

      It doesn’t include organisms produced through natural processes.

      BTW, if you were trying to make the point that the two methods are the same, you are wrong on that point too. The two are not in any way similar. The natural process of breeding is constrained and slow, which radically minimizes the potential for failure.

      The laboratory approach, in contrast, is wide ranging and highly volatile. When used to engineer foods we rely upon, on a grand scale, without a full knowledge of the repercussions, it is inviting disaster.

      JR

      JR

      • Olin

        interesting stuff, glad I finally logged on. It’s nice to see a positive twist on most stuff. Even having had numerous classes in biology, genetics, and microbiology this stuff just blows me away. FYI to make seed available for sale to the public it is required to do germination testing on it. Genetic testing, and corn in particular – that is taking it a step beyond. Cool.

  • Rick

    I’m interested.

  • Wermund

    I don’t really see how the fact that they are GMO’s make them more dangerous to consume. The DNA of our regular food does not jump over to our cells, so there is no reason to think that genes from GMO’s should either.

    That being said, I am NO fan of GMO’s. They might have other detrimental effects on our health and as such shold be put under heavy scrutiny before being allowed on the marked.

    And perhaps the most valid point against GMO’s is that their genetic makeup will contaminate that of the naturally occuring and heirloom variants. Thus reducing the genetic variance and reducing resilience.

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