Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

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.


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More
+1
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin