in the state of washington, there is a bill (I-522), that will require labelling of GMO foods. fr those of you who are unfamiliar, GMO foods are those that have been genetically modified, using genes of animals, bacteria, or viruses, and splicing them in with the plant genes in order to produce a more virulent or productive strain of plant.

obviously, if the goal of farming is only to increase yield per acre or to make plants increasingly more pest-resistant, then GMOs are a great thing.

but if taste, or health, or safety, or long-term effects are part of the equation for what you consume, then GMOs might pose other concerns.

perhaps these are not concerns for monsanto, or other big agricultural companies, because their bottom line is high yield and high profit. as long as something doesn’t outright kill or maim, or cause birth defects in the first or second generation, they are good (legally, they have clean hands, right?).

but morally? well, read more and decide…

the big agricultural companies, again led by monsanto (who i will remind you is a chemical company, and who i first remember hearing about because they created carpet for my home that repelled stains…), argue that requiring GMO labelling will be expensive for food companies, and ultimately for consumers, particularly if states pass varying laws.

this is quite considerate of them, all things considered. maybe if barak obama falls from favor, they could be nominated for the next nobel peace prize or a time magazine award. but really, food packaging changes all the time. and stores stick labels on stuff all the time. so if a certain company has to print labels to send to all of its store in the state of washington to put on all of its packages of ballpark franks, i think that’s do-able. or perhaps they could label the shelf when they put up the price sticker so it would be less cost-prohibitive. i’m sure they could find a way. and some part of me guesses that monsanto’s concern is not really with the small “mom and pop” store that would be hit the hardest with any costs of implementation, but, hey, call me jaded. maybe if they are that worried, they could offer them some financial help. as far as cost to the consumer, maybe if the real cost of genetically modified food went up 25 cents a package it would come a shade closer to the real costs of its actual production (minus the heavy subsidies it receives from tax dollars). but it still wouldn’t factor in health costs (since food that contains GMO ingredients is way more likely to contain all sorts of other unhealthy processed nonsense), so it’s still not really in the ballpark. perhaps it would be a small disincentive from buying non-GMO foods, and i don’t know if that would be such a bad thing. it would nudge people in the direction of less processed, more wholesome foods, and make them more competitive price-wise…, but i digress. and i’m getting really preachy and annoying…

already more than half of all corn and soybeans on the market contain genetically modified ingredients, so chances are, you (and i!) are feasting on loads and loads of what opponents like to call “frankenfoods” since corn (lots in the form of high fructose corn syrup, but also in other more sneaky forms) is in literally almost every processed food we eat; unless specified otherwise, you can assume you are eating GMO corn. many people, especially in recent years, have turned to soy as a meat replacement or as a more healthy protein source in general. but in addition to it being a phytoestrogen, it is also a big source of GMOs. so, i feel like, yay! they sprayed less pesticides on the crops (maybe- because you never know if they really believed in it enough to back off on the spraying, or if they sprayed anyhow, just in case…), but here i have been eating this stuff that they have no idea about how it will impact me in the long term. they have no idea how it will impact the babies i gave birth to while i was eating it or while i was nursing them, and no idea how it will impact those precious babies when they ate it as they were growing and developing. their computer models can only predict so far (just witness their weather models for a great example of what a shambles their predictive technology is), and their scientists are paid to find what they want them to find. it happens time and time again and we find out long after the fact. this is not conspiracy stuff, and if yo don’t believe me, please please do some research on your own.

monsanto further claims it wants to “protect the farmers” by opposing this bill- again a noble goal- if only it had any ring of truth. i would respect them so much more if they would just issue a press release that said, “look. we are a big company. we are out to make a profit because that’s what we do. we need to stay in business so we can employ people and provide jobs and stimulate the economy and whatever else. so, in the interest of the bottom line, we need to bump up our yields, and we can do that best through using GMO technology. we have run 8,000 tests and 7,999 have proven safe. in one of them, we had a few goats get a brain hemorrhage, but that’s really a small number. we will release the data to you so you can make up your own mind. honestly, we wouldn’t use this stuff if we didn’t believe it was safe, because we don’t want to get sued. again, it’s all about the bottom line for us, and we don’t want to lose money in lawsuits, so to protect our profit margin, we wouldn’t release something that’s going to get us sued. so, there it is, any questions?”

but they claim they want to protect the farmer, and that’s kind of funny, because in the state of washington, it is farmers who are fighting against GMOs. our two biggest export crops are wheat and apples, but people in europe and japan won’t buy those crops from us if they are genetically modified. so by “protecting the farmer” from this bill, and from the supposed cost of labeling their food, we are actually standing in the way of their transacting business with their overseas clients. and we are talking billions of dollars a years here. so monsanto may be able to take the hit, but washington farmers are up against a wall. unless we can get labels and standards in place, other countries will remain skittish about buying food from a country that is ruled more by big agricultural/chemical companies than by common sense and it will continue to hurt farmers who seek to export. that’s food for thought on that issue. so when you see farmers who supposedly stand against I-522 and similar bills, you should just wonder why…

as i was researching this issue, i came across this quote which made me laugh/gasp/stop in my tracks:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration established a policy in 1992 declaring that there is no substantial or material difference between genetically engineered foods and foods that haven’t been genetically engineered.”

and there it was. complete and total proof that GMOs are safe. so no we can all rest easy. don’t you feel better? this did not come in any particular context, mind you. i am not pulling it out of a long story about why and how they are safe. it was just a very matter-of-fact statement, meant to be so strong and so obvious as to need to no other proof. the FDA said it, therefore, it is fact. oh, thanks for clearing that up, FDA… but it also struck me as i read it that this his how may people operate. they are so plugged into the government as benevolent daddy that they really will look to it as the voice of All Knowledge. and if They say it, then it must Be So.

but it goes back to what i wrote a few posts back. what is made in a lab can’t come close to what is made in nature. there is so much that science doesn’t understand, and therefore can’t replicate. there are so many unintended consequences of our meddling with things that show up long after we have stepped in to “fix” a problem that we can’t possibly anticipate the, and that is even if we assume completely innocent, kind, and compassionate motives guiding our actions. fiddling around with our food just “feels” wrong on such a gut level (pun intended)- does it to you?

part of our transition to moving to seattle has meant that i have to get used to paying higher prices for food, and i’ll be honest with you: i can’t stand it. it raises my hackles every time i buy produce. i literally shudder every time i pick up an apple (and we grow them i this state for cryin’ out loud!). produce from california was cheaper in michigan than it is here, and i still can’t for the life of me figure out why. but you know what? we adapt. we don’t starve. we drive less and save on gas. we buy less ice cream. we don’t get treats as often and we stock up on stuff when it’s on sale (still more expensive than it was in detroit, and that’s part of the reason i can’t wait to plant my garden! let’s hope it’s bountiful this year!!) bottom line? we find ways to get what’s important to us, and if things cost a few more cents per pound, then they do.

i don’t know if i would buy all non-GMO foods, the same way that i don’t currently buy all organic. in an ideal world, of course i would, and in an ideal world we wouldn’t even have to choose a less ideal option. but there are budgets and families to feed and there is reality. but my reality is that i would at least like to be able to make informed decisions about what i feed my family.

and i really don’t think tha’s too much to ask.

support I-522, especially if you live in the state of washington.

and, as always, support the garden spring!