It was bound to happen. After running through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas we finally met a real person in Oklahoma who takes issue with our mission as we Run For a GMO Free USA.
For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to this person as Bob. Bob’s a farmer. As you might expect, Bob knows a lot about farming. He grows GMO corn with the help of both Roundup and 2,4-D. Roundup is the world’s number one selling herbicide.
Increasing numbers of studies now implicate Roundup in a host of nasty illnesses. Researchers have found Roundup in our air, soil, water, urine, and even in breast milk of American mothers. Sri Lanka recently banned the use of Roundup in certain agricultural regions due to Round Up’s contribution to widespread kidney disease.
2,4-D is also an herbicide. It’s half of the chemical composition of Agent Orange, of Viet Nam war fame. Everyone but Monsanto knows that Agent Orange is responsible for the horrible epidemic of birth defects in Viet Nam as well as a host of illnesses to Viet Nam War veterans and their descendants. Australia recently banned the use of 2,4-D because of the harm it causes to agricultural workers.
But I digress. As much as Bob knows about farming GMO corn, there are a few things he didn’t know. Bob did not fully know what GMO stands for. Bob did not know that Monsanto uses genes from bacteria to create Roundup Ready crops.
Bob had never heard that GM corn contaminates organic farmers’ corn. Nor did he know that Monsanto sues farmers for patent infringement after their corn has been contaminated by GM corn. And Bob had no idea—until he met David and me—that people don’t want his GM corn.
But what Bob didn’t know about GMOs may not be as dangerous as the things that he did know that ain’t so. For example, Bob believes that if farmers stopped spraying poisons and “went organic” that millions of people would die. Bob believes that GMOs are no different than what our ancestors did when they cross-bred corn. And Bob believes that GM corn provides medicine that, up until now, could only be manufactured in livestock animals. And Bob didn’t think his GM corn should be much of an issue to people because nearly all of it is fed to cows and pigs. (It’s true that nearly all GM soya is fed to livestock animals and nearly all GM corn is turned into the gasoline substitute ethanol or is fed to livestock animals.)
I don’t fault Bob for believing such poppy cock. When Monsanto sells its patented seeds and poisons, it throws in truckloads of bullshit lies as a freebie bonus. And farmers like Bob pass around those lies because they’re good people who—like most of the rest of us—want to believe that the work they do has value and that it matters.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Monsanto lies are still lies. If Bob stopped growing his GMO corn, poor people wouldn’t know or care because they can’t afford to own or drive cars or eat steaks and pork chops.
If GM corn and soy farmers stopped growing their corn and soy and stopped the grossly inefficient practice of running food through animals, and if they started growing fruits, vegetable, grains, or legumes meant for human consumption, then they would actually be growing something that would benefit poor, hungry people. They’d save water, soil, and air quality and they’d cut down on the toxic chemicals like Roundup they add to the environment and to our plates.
Our ancestors used traditional cross-breeding techniques to improve crop performance and create new strains. Scientists refer to traditional cross-breeding as vertical gene transfer—the transfer of genes from parent to child. Monsanto’s patented GM crops are not created with vertical gene transfer. They are created by taking two or more unrelated species and combining their DNA in ways that would be impossible outside of a laboratory. Scientists call this method horizontal gene transfer. Our ancestors did not combine bacteria with our food and they would likely be horrified to find out that some of their descendants are bone-headed, short-sighted, and greedy enough to do so, then pass off their patented mutations as food.
The concept of using horizontal gene transfer to create medicine sounds good at first glance and may one day have merit in a controlled setting. But scientists haven’t the faintest idea to what extent their genetically modified creations might impact the world’s ecosystems once they are released into the environment. We do know that GMOs contaminate. Period. And what right does one company have to create a product that will contaminate the crops and livelihood of organic and traditional farmers?
True, I’d rather see Bob’s GM corn fed to livestock than fed to my kids. But since all life is connected on this planet, the best solution is to eliminate poisoned food altogether. It’s no secret that we can’t poison one species without also poisoning other species, including our own. It’s also no secret that meat from factory-farmed animals contains pesticides, anti-parasitics, antibiotics, and hormones. For far too many people, the living conditions of factory farms animals remain a secret. If we treated our dogs the way we treat factory-farmed hogs, we’d go to jail for a long time and with good reason.
Bob didn’t appreciate what I had to say about GMOs. Nor would I appreciate it if I were Bob. Bob asked me the same question I might ask if I wore Bob’s boots. “Are you a farmer?” It’s a valid question . . . sort of. I told Bob that my profession would only have relevance to our discussion if all farmers agreed with Bob that GMOs are safe. They don’t. I told Bob about the Organic Seeds Growers and Trade Association and their legal battle for protection from Monsanto’s GM seeds and absurd lawsuits.
I also said that there are numerous scientists who oppose GMOs, not in spite of the science, but because of the science. Clearly then, profession does not correlate to position, unless of course you profit from GMOs. Profit, it turns out, provides the strongest correlation to a pro-GMO position. If you profit from Monsanto chemicals, seeds, lies, and money, you likely to believe that GMOs are safe. This is true whether you’re a Supreme Court justice, scientist, university professor, politician, or farmer. Beyond safety, if you’re growing GMOs like Bob, you probably believe that your GMOs are keeping hungry people alive, even though your GMOs are just fattening up animals—animals that will one day fatten up, poison, and hasten the demise of the people who eat them.
But still, the fact remains: My family and I are not farmers. And that’s totally okay. We are not running across the country as farmers. We’re running across the country as conscientious consumers. What that means for Bob is that we are his customers. And after running half way across the USA, we’ve learned that Bob’s customers have a consistent message for him and all the other farmers of GMOs: 100% of the people we have spoken with who know about GMOs, oppose GMOs. They don’t want them released into the environment, they don’t want them in their food supply, they don’t want to eat them, and they don’t want to feed them to their kids. If they can’t get GMOs eliminated altogether, then they unanimously agree that GMOs must be labeled. They want the GMO label, of course, so they can easily know which foods and which packages to boycott.
That information will be of no surprise to the chemical giants and junk food industry. They know that an informed public is their worst enemy. They know that over 90% of the people want GMOs labeled. They know that if GMOs are labeled, people will wake up and ask, “GMOs? What’s that? They mixed bacteria with my food? Then they saturate my food with poison? These things are banned in other countries? GMOs and their poisons are linked to a ton of health problems? That’s why I’ve got Celiac Disease? That’s why I’m gluten intolerant? That’s why I can’t get pregnant? I’m feeding Roundup to my baby every time I breast feed? Wow! I’m not buying this poison and I’m certainly not feeding it to my kids.”
Whether Bob likes GM farming or not, he needs to be aware that his customer base is awakening. He needs to know that thanks to Monsanto’s and the FDA’s lies about “substantial equivalence,” he and thousands of other farmers now find themselves in the bizarre situation of raising crops that people neither want nor need.
The day is coming—and it’s coming soon—that enough of his customers will reject any and all products contaminated with GMOs, including GMO fed livestock. It happened in Europe (and continues to happen in Europe) as customers rejected food products made with GM ingredients. And it’s happening in the USA now. With or without the government’s help, Bob’s customers are going to get GMOs labeled. Some 23 different states are currently working hard to label GMOs.
Vermont just passed the first no-strings-attached labeling bill. The national GMO label will prove to be nearly as effective as a skull and crossbones label. When enough people learn that GMOs deserve a skull and crossbones label and they stop buying GMOs in the grocery store, livestock farmers and food manufacturers will drop Bob like a genetically modified hot potato. And Bob will be left standing in his cornfield with his Roundup and his 2,4-D wondering what the heck happened.
I don’t want that to happen to Bob. Farming is no picnic. In fact, it’s a whole lot of hard work with a whole lot of risks. And When Monsanto turned farmers into Monsanto’s serfs, farming got a whole lot riskier and harder.
It would be a great thing if farmers arose in mass and revolted against the chemical companies that control our elected officials and agricultural policy. Mass revolution is unlikely, but more and more farmers are returning to conventional agriculture because they’ve learned the truth for themselves: GMOs suck! Contrary to the lies they were told, GMOs don’t increase yield, they don’t increase profit, and in the long run, they cause more problems than they solve in the form of super bugs, super weeds, environmental degradation, sterile soil, and a host of medical problems in both the livestock and animals who consume poison-saturated GMOs.
What can you do to help as a consumer? Boycott GMOs. And if you find a total boycott overwhelming, be sure to Boycott Kellogg’s and all their brands. Demand that GMOs are labeled. Protest, march, rally, campaign, contact your government representative, blog, post, share, tweet, etc. The battle will not be easy. The chemical companies and their political puppets have billions of dollars at stake. They will not roll over and play dead. And if we do—play dead, that is—our deaths may not be play at all. Many people have already died due to genetically modified, chemical-based, patented seeds and monocultures.
The USDA claims that GMOs and non-GMO crops can co-exist. Of course that’s utter nonsense. GMOs contaminate non-GMOs with GMO genes proving that GMOs and non-GMO crops cannot co-exist. Because co-existence is a lie, we either rise up and squash GMOs or we sit back and let the chemical companies modify and poison anything and everything they shoot their gene guns at.
Nothing personal, Bob, but no thank you. No more GMOs! No more poisons!
Everything personal, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont Pioneer and other poisoners! No more GMOs. No more bee killing. No more political puppets. No more government bribes! No more revolving doors! No more poisons! No more lies!
Brett Wilcox is the author of We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie. Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Brett wrote this blog in various towns in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.