Monday, January 28, 2013

GE Foods: Let's Eat Stuff That's Designed to Kill! Not.

I can be a rather contrary person.

Generally, when I see something that says "Share/re-blog this" I happily shove whatever the statement discussed happens to be into the big filing cabinet in my brain and leave it there, rolling my eyes and going on with my day.  I don't like feeling pressured into doing something, and the result oftentimes resembles that of a small child:

"You're not the boss of me!"

Sometimes, though rare, I'll actually listen.  The person has touched on an argument that I feel passionately about, and the person is on my People To Be Listened To list.  There are a few constants on that list, but for the most part, people are only there briefly.

It's a kind of short list...

Naturally, the people that have a cemented spot on the list are all dead.  It's not very likely that they'll do something contrary to the words I've grown to love.

It's not that I don't trust people - some would argue that I trust too often.

Rather, I tend to research every little piece of information that's handed to me.  Just because something sounds true, doesn't mean it is.  It doesn't mean the person that gave me the information is lying, either.  They tend to believe the information they're given.

So when I read the words of someone I trust, I look even more closely into what they're saying, searching for flaws in their arguments.  It's an exercise in self protection.

This, of course, meant that after reading a post on Gardening Jones' blog, I put my research hat on.

Gardening Jones is one of the blogs that I read that I have a large amount of admiration and respect for.  Jones honestly seems to have the answer to every gardening question I have.  Of course, that's probably due to being a master gardener for years.  If I need an answer, it's there.

A couple of days ago, Gardening Jones had a post entitled, Saving Our Children.  It discusses genetically engineered crops and the damage they inflict on human beings.  Like me, Jones focuses not on the genetic modification itself, but rather on the chemicals that are used to grow these crops:

What we are feeding our children is heavily loaded with pesticides and other chemicals. We no longer serve food, we serve things that are like food. Genetically engineered crops that are heavily doused in pesticides have been shown to cause cancers and organ disorders in laboratory rats.
There hasn't been any outside research done that can prove whether the process of genetically engineering a plant causes any true health dangers.  This is largely due to the fact that the companies' research is gagged.  Nobody is allowed to so much as look at the research they've done.  A company does its own research, then we are supposed to blindly accept their findings, believing that they've been honest.

That doesn't sit well with me.  

Having a degree in a science allows me to know just how easy it is to manipulate data into showing what you want to see, rather than what's really there.

Fortunately, scientists that don't work for biotech companies can do research on pesticides and herbicides. This is what Jones was referring to.  Jones mentions rats, but that's not all that's been found.  In one post, I linked to a study done in Quebec that spoke about effects of pesticides and herbicides used in GE crops on pregnant women and their fetuses.

The studies are growing, and effects of herbicides and pesticides on our bodies aren't exactly confidence inspiring. 

Jones drafted a very good letter aimed at elected officials on this subject, and asked that it be copied and sent by readers that agree with it.  Jones also asked that the post be re-blogged.

Normally, I roll my eyes and ignore that sort of thing.  Not this time, though.

See, I research GMOs like crazy, being someone that has a fear of pesticides and herbicides.  Admitting this, of course, is admitting a certain bias.  I have a thing about not wanting to put anything into my body that's designed to kill something.  It just seems like a rather bad decision, for some reason...

Indeed, there was only one thing that I saw as misinformation within the post... until I realized that it really wasn't.

There was a question underneath a photo.  That question read, "Do I see HFCS from GE corn and pasta from GE wheat?"

I paused here.  GE wheat is not commercially available in the United States.

Genetic improvement has been slower for wheat because of the grain's genetic complexity and lower potential monetary returns to commercial seed companies, which discourage investment in research. In the corn sector, where hybrids are used, farmers generally buy seed from dealers every year. However, many wheat farmers, particularly in the Plains States, use saved seed instead of buying from dealers every year. In addition, U.S. food processors are wary of consumer reaction to products containing genetically modified (GM) wheat, so no GM wheat is commercially grown in the United States. (USDA)

Noodles made with GE wheat just couldn't be true.

...or could it?

I'm thinking about crop drift.  Often, organic farmers lose revenue due to crop drift.  Organically planted crops occasionally get contaminated with pollen from GM plants, causing entire harvests to be ruined.  You can't sell organic if your plant has been corrupted through crop drift.  You can't sell at all, for that matter.  The crops are essentially "owned" by the Big Ag company that corrupted your field.

All because the wrong bug came your way.  Or maybe the wind blew in the wrong direction.  Either way, an entire season has been wasted.

It's conceivable, therefore, that GE wheat could be in those noodles.  Crop drift is a very real threat in the world of agriculture.  If there is GM wheat within those boxes of mac and cheese, it would be an incredibly small amount, due to an accident of nature.  It would happen only because wheat was planted too close to an experimental facility.

But it is possible.  

Not probable, of course, but possible.  And that's the problem.

There are no true safeguards.

So go check out Saving Our Children by Gardening Jones.  It's much shorter than what I've written here, so you don't have to worry about eye strain.  Jones doesn't typically talk about hot topic issues or about politics, so you know every word is heartfelt.

P.S.  Even though it's improbable that GE wheat is found in those mac and cheese noodles in GJ's photo, it is still a genetically engineered product - Lots of GE corn went into making the powder, and there may even be cellulose covering the noodles - cellulose coating generally has a mix of corn and cardboard in it.

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