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GMO Crops: Are We the Frogs in the Slowly Boiling Water?

Ninety percent of Americans want mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Ninety percent! I’d call that a significant majority. So why isn’t it happening? Numerous studies have shown ill health effects resulting from the unintended consequences of fiddling with our veggies’ DNA. This is scary stuff. And although many argue that GMO foods help fight famine, the real problem with the world’s food system is distribution. We have enough food to feed everyone without GMO foods. So why risk it? Why spread the seeds of a dangerous practice whose fruit we haven’t had nearly enough time to examine?

Bonnie Azab Powell makes the case against GMO crops in this article from The Ethicurean.

“Doom and gloomers.” That’s what my father used to call people who talked about global warming not as a chance to work on their tans, but as something that ought to be keeping humankind up at night. He’d toss the newspaper aside, or change the subject at dinner. He still does, in fact. Fortunately much of America — or at least the people we elected to run it — has accepted that climate change is not only a real and present threat, but that it’s imperative we revisit some of the assumptions that got us into this mess.

Alas, public debate about the safety of growing and eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains stalled at where climate change was circa 1993, back when Al Gore published “Earth in the Balance” to a deafening silence. Americans tend to dismiss serious discussions about the risks of GMOs with a “doom and gloomers” shrug. They’re here, they’re queer, get over it.

This is a mistake. It’s one that Europeans, the Japanese, and plenty of other industrialized and developing nations have avoided. As with climate change, the longer American citizens refuse to learn about this issue, the hotter the water we frogs are sitting in gets. Writes technology reporter Denise Caruso in her excellent book, “Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet“: As long as scientists can justifiably “declare that we, the innumerate public, lack the mental capacity to understand what they, the experts, do…there can be no common ground for understanding between those who create risk and we who must bear it.” And if the current economic meltdown, caused by financial instruments too complex for any mere mortals other than hedge fund managers to understand, has taught us anything, it’s that an ignorant public is begging to get shafted.

A paper just published May 25 in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Society of Agriculture and Food gives people the tools with which to grasp the science behind transgenic food crops, what questions we should be asking, and a potential path out of this mess. In it Don Lotter, a UC-Davis trained scientist, makes a persuasive case that the transgenic seed industry is built on fundamentally flawed science, and that companies like Monsanto have used their vast market power to reshape university research, manipulate public opinion, and coerce regulatory agencies into reckless acceptance of risky technologies. And that scientists have looked the other way while they did so.

“The Genetic Engineering of Food and the Failure of Science” paper ought to be required reading for any American citizen who didn’t sign the consent form about the risks of the “largest diet experiment in history,” as he calls it. That includes you, me, your kids, every member of Congress, and every researcher who still believes in independent science.

Read the whole article here.


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

Draft Power: The Life-Affirming Alternative to “Big Ag”

Farmers young and old are seeking new ways to shrink their carbon footprint and promote more ecologically friendly ways of getting chores done. So, what’s a modern farmer to do? For some, the centuries old approach of using draft animals—especially horses—is offering a very 21st century solution. Read More..

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More..

A Book for the Fruit Nerd on Your Holiday Gift List

Have a fruit enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year? Then give the gift that Booklist calls, “a thorough investigation of one wonderful fruit”—The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan.Sure cherries, plums, peaches, and other fruits have their unique qualities, but nothing quite compares to the pear’s luscious texture, richness of taste, and fragrance reminiscent […] Read More..

Unlock the Secret to the Perfect Salad with Soil Sprouts

As the weather gets colder and seasonal produce only means root vegetables, we begin to dream about fresh greens and colorful salads. Without a greenhouse or expensive equipment, it’s hard to imagine a reality in which you can have fresh and local greens every day. Luckily, Peter Burke has a method: in his book Year-Round Indoor […] Read More..
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