The following article was written by a Massachusetts organic farmer, Ed Stockman, for NOFA Massachusetts. This article demonstrates the dangers of genetically modified organism crops and seeds to organic agriculture, the environment and human health. This issue is too important to be ignored, which is reflected by CT NOFA's participation in the lawsuit against Monsanto. While organic farming is facing more regulation, GMO crops are being deregulated. Every person is a stakeholder as a food producer or as a consumer and every individual should be concerned and involved.
Will organic crops and food be contaminated out of existence?
By Ed Stockman
The recent deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa, sugar beets and ethanol corn by the USDA certainly was a blow to organic agriculture and eventually to all organic foods. Those of us who wish to eat organic foods uncontaminated by genetically engineered DNA will have a real problem finding such foods in the near future. Growing your own non-GMO foods may no longer be an option because our seed supply will also be contaminated. The USDA owns the word “organic” and they set the final rules. This is the same agency that is deregulating one GMO crop after another so they can be grown in the open to contaminate organic and non-GMO crops. The USDA refuses to test, regulate or label GMO crops so it’s reasonable to think they may redefine the word organic to allow contaminated crops and seeds to be sold as “some kind of organic” in the future.
Little hope remains that either the Democrats or the Republicans will stop the USDA and the advancement of GMOs in agriculture and our food. The mounting evidence connecting genetic engineering to health, environmental and agricultural dangers paints the future for healthy organic food and pure, uncontaminated seeds in shades of grey, making the GMO problem seem insurmountable — but it is not! Defeating biotech will not be easy, but it is possible. We should not forget the power at the top always depends on the silence of the people on the bottom.
Let’s not be silent
A 2011 MSNBC poll found 96 percent of voters want GMO foods labeled. Others polls found 53 percent would not eat a product if they knew the product contained GMOs. But don’t expect labeling anytime soon. Food corporations and manufacturers are fearful of labeling because GMO labeling means lost sales and reduced revenues. Losing money gets their attention, so let’s help them lose money. How? First, we need to STOP BUYING AND EATING GMO PRODUCTS or products with GMO ingredients. But how do I know if a product contains GMO ingredients if they are not labeled? Essentially, they are labeled. If a product contains non-organic corn or soy or ingredients derived from soy or corn then more than likely the product contains GMOs. The best way to find out is to print a copy of the free Non-GMO Shopping Guide at NONgmoShoppingGuide.com. It contains a list of invisible GM ingredients.
Secondly, we need to organize, to form local groups and educate ourselves. Showing a film like “The World According To Monsanto” and signing up the audience is an effective way of forming a group. Educate yourself and talk to your friends, neighbors and store managers. Don’t think health food stores are safe havens from GMOs. Read the labels, don’t buy those that contain ingredients derived from GMOs and tell store managers why you are not buying a certain product. Vote for a GMO-free world with your dollars and your purchases. If you want help forming a local working group contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thirdly, let’s use the power of the Internet and consumerism. How do we get food corporations to stop using GMO ingredients? We impact their bottom lines by not buying their products and letting them know why. E-mail, phone or write manufacturers and ask about the ingredients in their products. Tell them you like their products but are very concerned about GMOs and will no longer buy or eat products with GMO ingredients.
We don’t need every person in America to stop buying GMO products, so there is no need to try and convince resistant people. We just need enough to cut into corporate profits and create a “tipping point”. It is surprisingly low. That’s what happened in Europe to stop GMO foods and more recently with rBGH in milk in the U.S. The word is out – GMOs are unsafe – and once the tipping point is reached, the demand for GMO crops and seeds will be significantly reduced and fields will once again grow non-GMO crops.
I’ve been an organic grower for 40 years, all my adult life, and I’m fearful it may all end. I can’t predict the future, but one thing is for sure: if we remain silent, the power at the top will allow organic crops and food to be contaminated with GMO genetics. Let’s not be silent.
Ed Stockman is an organic farmer, biologist and former NOFA/Mass Organic Extension Educator. He farms in Western Massachusetts and is a spokesperson for the Hilltown Non-GMO Working Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.