Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Future of Food

One of the participatory aspects of the online group that I belong to, Destroyers of Mass Production, is that any member can throw down a challenge to the other members. Some of the past challenges have included sewing blankets for the homeless and surreptitiously posting anti-war messages in public. A current challenge is to grow your own food.

I saw a very disturbing film last night that left me tossing and turning and that seems to relate to this topic if only because it has to do with growing your own food. It's called The Future of Food. It talks about the origins of genetically engineered food and what GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are doing to our food supply. Not only do these foods contain harmful chemicals, bacteria, and antibiotics but because they are corporate hybrids they can be patented. If the wind or a bird drops a seed that has been patented onto a farmer's field and it cross pollinates with that farmer's crops, the resulting strain of corn, for example, may contain the marker gene that is patented. That farmer can then be held liable for violating patent law. Incredible as it sounds, many farmers have been sued for this very reason. Farmers, our food suppliers, are being put in a position where they must buy these genetically engineered patented seeds each time they plant for fear of being sued. This affects us because it reduces the variety and quality of produce that is available to us. Seeds are being patented all the time, so eventually even small organic farmers may be affected.

After a year of being vegetarian, I was feeling pretty happy every time I went to the grocery store and thought about how I wasn't eating meat that had chemicals and antibiotics. I went out of my way to look for cheese and dairy products that contain no rBST and I'm a label reader so my processed foods have to meet certain criteria. But where are the labels on our produce? Why shouldn't we know how our fruits and vegetables are being farmed? If I'm eating genetically modified food I want to know it. If my corn on the cob is classified as a pesticide because any insect that eats it dies, (yes, this is true) I want to know!

Here is a summary of what crops, foods and food ingredients have been genetically modified as of July, 2007:

Currently Commercialized GM Crops in the U.S.:
(Number in parentheses represents the estimated percent that is genetically modified.)

Soy (89%)
Cotton (83%)
Canola (75%)
Corn (61%)
Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%)
Alfalfa, zucchini and yellow squash (small amount)
Tobacco (Quest® brand)


I know I'm ranting like a lunatic, but I'm angry. What kind of world am I leaving to my kids? We are allowing corporate greed to ruin our lives. That's what it all boils down to - this stupid war, global warming, genetically engineered food, it's unchecked corporate greed. So let's plant our gardens and let's press to make corporations accountable not only to their shareholders but to the rest of the world!