Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

What are you eating?

When was the last time you could actually smell a tomato in the produce section of your grocery store? Or the last time you ate an egg and it actually tasted like one? How about the last time you were able to truly smell a rose – years, decades? Last summer I blogged about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) after biking along miles and miles of corn fields in the Midwest that looked absolutely perfect. Every stalk was the same height, fullness, ripeness – you get the picture. Something just felt off. How can this be I wondered? Ahh… there it was a sign indicating these fields were the result of GMO products. More information was necessary.

From 1999 to 2010 farmland in the Midwest lost 80% of its milkweed due to heavy use of the herbicide glyphosate due to widespread planting of GMO crops engineered to resist it. Since milkweed is the food for butterflies there was a significant decline in the Monarch butterfly population. But it’s only butterflies you might be thinking…

Genetically modified organisms are living organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been artificially modified or manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This is not simply a black or white issue… there are shades of gray involved.

In Europe, the U.S. and other countries many people are convinced that GMO’s are bad for the world and pose unknown dangers to human health. On the other hand, proponents say that the use of GMO’s are needed to respond to overpopulation and climate change. There are GMO’s that have caused large reductions in the use of pesticides – a good thing – as well as GMO’s that have made herbicides skyrocket – a bad thing. So what’s the answer?

Actually some foods containing GMO’s have been in our grocery stores since the early 1990’s we just have not been aware of it. As with everything in life awareness is key. But awareness often comes at a cost. In 2012 a bill (Proposition 37) in California was defeated 51% to 49% after 46 million dollars was spent by opponents to labeling GMO products. Monsanto, DuPont, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods and other industry giants did not want to label their products. Whether it is corn, soybeans or the famous (or infamous) GM engineered Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and DNA from the eel-like ocean pout fish that hastens the growth cycle to 1 1/2 years rather than the standard 3 years cycle, effects are evident. Whole Foods and Costco has announced that they will not sell the GM salmon. One has to ask the question – why, why are the industry giants so afraid of allowing us to know what we are eating. Why is labeling such a threat to them? Could it simply boil down to the almighty dollar?

Crops that are bigger, matured faster, and appear to be more perfect specimens seem to be the result of GMO use. As one would guess overall profit is up with these products. But does this make GMO use bad. That’s a complex question that has varied answers. All I know is that when you travel to countries that believe in fresh, farm raised food – without all the bells and whistles that GMO offers – the food tastes different – not just a little bit but a whole lot!

At a minimum we should be aware through labeling if products have been GMO engineered so we can make our own decisions. Congratulations is due to the state of Vermont. As of July, 2016 they will be the first state in the U.S. to achieve through legislation accurate labeling. Any food sold in their state must be labeled if it contains genetically modified ingredients giving consumers the right to know and choose what goes into their bodies.

Maybe the other 49 states will find the courage to stand up to the mega companies and demand the same. One has to question – if there is nothing wrong with GMO’s why the tremendous time and money devoted to hiding the information by refusing to label?

Have a great few days!

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