Friday, June 21, 2013

First, Jeffrey Smith. Then, Monsanto.

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: On Wednesday night, Farm and Fiddle (KOPN 89.5 fm, Columbia MO) had a great interview with Jeffrey Smith of the Center for Responsible Technology. He’s the guy that took the information on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our food and put them into consumer language. The first piece I got from him, a CD called, “You’re eating What??”, blew me away with the way he took the complicated issue and broke it down. I had been overwhelmed with information—from my points of view as a farmer seeing the neighborhood change, a mom wondering what kind of food system my kids would inherit, and a consumer myself—what’s this doing to my own body? This CD put it all in simple terms that I could use. He let us copy “You’re Eating What?” and pass it out to our friends and family. And now Jeffrey has come up with more projects—books, videos, a speaking tour and a speaker’s bureau. Yay, him! So, as I said, we had this great interview where he answered questions from “Isn’t the government making tests and looking out for us?” (Answer: No.) to “What is a GMO?” (Answer: a living organism with the gene from another living organism inserted. For example, a gene from a bacteria that eats the cells of corn rootworms) to “What’s wrong with eating GMOs?” (Answer: the gene that eats rootworms also eats us! Why would we want to put that in our bodies?) I was feeling really good about the interview and when I got home, I got a phone call from a good friend. Figuring she wanted to congratulate me on the excellent radio program, I tried to sound humble. But that’s not why she called. Her news? Monsanto has won the World Food Prize. Three scientists will split $250,000 for figuring out how to insert foreign genes into crops, creating GMOs. What a crock. When you mention the name, “Monsanto,” in my world, people have a range of about 3 reactions, none of them, “Well, they deserve a prize!” Instead, people say, “They’re the number one cause for suicides in farmers in India” or “After ruining a crop, they sue farmers for gene pollution” or, just, “I hate those guys.” I’ve never met a person that says, “Monsanto? They should get a prize!”

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