Millions Against Monsanto, Not!

Well, my initial foray into activism has not turned out as I thought it would.  I thought I was signing up to motivate, activate and inform people about one of the worst corporations on the planet, Monsanto.  But all that seems to be happening is that Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are being harrassed for not labeling the foods they sell that contain genetically modified ingredients.

I don’t think it’s their responsibility to do that.

I’ve done a lot of reading about and by long-time environmental activists and the general consensus seems to be that activism has gotten about as screwed up as everything else on this planet.

Why?  Because most acitivism still operates under the assumption that our industrial civilization is a thing worth saving; it still operates under the assumption that humans are in control of the natural world, not dependent upon it, and it operates under the assumption that something can actually be done at these very late minutes in the game.

I don’t need Reverand Camping to tell me we’re living in the end times.  I’m not expecting Jesus and I’m not meditating my way to Nirvana and I’m not wasting what precious energy I have left on campaigns that have absolutely no chance of making a difference.

What I am doing is enjoying the feel of the sun on my face, even if it is raining radiation, and I’m enjoying the sounds of the birds while they’re still singing, and I’m loving my family and friends, and I’m grateful for each day the monkey that’s been on my back forever seems to have moved on.

I try very hard not to scream when someone asks me what kind of car I drive or comforts me with the fact that it probably all won’t come crashing down in our lifetime. 

And I’ll attend my beautiful niece’s graduation tonight and pray that I am wrong.  It would be an understatement to say it wouldn’t be the first time.

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The Worst of the Perps

Right up there with Monsanto, these guys.  I wonder if he’s gotten his life back.

Don’t Eat That!

From pasteurizing all the helpful enzymes out of our milk to processing soy with hexane, our food producers seem determined to not only take most of the good, vital nutrients out of our food, but to add a lot of things that are bad for human health and the environment. 

 I could write a very short post and say if it’s a “conventional” food in the grocery store, don’t eat it, but that’s not feasible in my life and probably not in yours either.

 From my research, these are the foods I avoid if at all possible, why I avoid them and what to buy alternatively: 

 

Genetically Modified Foods

Why:  Most genetically modified foods are modified to either produce or withstand pesticide use.  The most frightening are the ones that make the pesticide themselves.  Their DNA is altered to create a pesticide which activates in the plant and then we consume the plant and the pesticide right along with it.  Gone are the gold old days when all one had to worry about was what they were spraying on our food.  

At least 75% of all conventionally processed foods contain gm ingredients.  This number will only be going up if genetically modified crops continue to be approved and planted.  Especially with the approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa, America is in danger of losing the pure original form of many crops entirely:  corn, soy, cotton, sugarbeets.   Some form of corn and/or soy are used in almost all processed food items you’ll buy in the supermarket. 

What to Buy:  Currently the only way to avoid genetically modified foods is to buy certified organic.  

Conventional milk 

Why:  Cows are treated with rBGH and rBST growth hormones.  Recent studies have shown these hormones to be carcinogenic as well as linking them to early onset of puberty in girls.  Producers will tell you the amount is insignificant, but they won’t tell you that even tiny, tiny amounts of hormones have an effect on the endocrine system.

Conventional cows are also given heavy doses of many different antibiotics.

 What to Buy:  Buy organic raw milk if it’s legal in your state.  Next best:  Buy organic milk or buy local sustainable.  I buy milk through a local dairy that does not use growth hormones on their animals and only pasteurizes their milk (because it’s the law).  Conventional milk is pasteurized (usually twice) and homogenized.  Had I the choice, I would definitely buy raw organic milk. 

Conventional chicken 

Why:  It’s got arsenic in it.  Arsenic is a government-approved dietary supplement for animals.  Roxarsone (4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl arsenic acid) is a common additive to the feed of broiler chickens to control certain types of intestinal parasites.  Producers of the feed and the chickens that eat it say it’s harmless to humans; they say that just because the chicken gets it doesn’t mean you do.  That makes about as much sense as calling nuclear power clean.

 Conventional chicken is also often fed genetically modified feed. 

What to Buy:  Buy organic chicken (it’s fed no arsenic-laced or gn feed) or better yet, make it local and sustainable chicken from a farmer who free-ranges.

Conventional Beef 

Why:  Most non-organic U.S. cattle are given androgens (testosterone surrogates) to fatten them up for slaughter.  Others receive the female sex hormone, estrogen, which shuts down estrus and allows their bodies to build muscle mass.  They’re fed genetically modified feed and given antibiotics.  Same old, same old. 

What to Buy:  But organic or local, sustainable.  Grass-fed.  Cows are grazers. 

Conventional Pork 

Why:  Like conventional chickens and cows, conventional pigs are pumped up with hormones, antibiotics and are fed a diet of genetically-modified grain. 

What to Buy:  Buy organic or local, sustainable. 

These conventionally grown fruits and vegetables:  strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, peaches, nectarines, celery, apples, pears, grapes, raspberries and potatoes. 

Why:  For varying reasons these 12 items are heavily sprayed with as many as a dozen different pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.  All of the sprays are toxic and carcinogenic to the human body as well as the soil. 

What to Buy:  Organic or local, sustainable. 

 Canned Food 

Why:  BPA or bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen, is used in the lining of the cans.  It leaches into the food and then into our bodies.  Another added hormone our bodies don’t need, weren’t meant to have, and that is known to disrupt the endocrine system. 

What to Buy:  Some manufacturers are voluntarily stopping the use of BPA and are labeling their canned products as such.  Otherwise, if it’s in a can, don’t buy it. 

Soy products 

Why:  Most of the soybeans and soy protein used in foods today are bathed in a toxic, explosive chemical solvent called hexane.  Hexane is a neurotoxin produced as a by-product of gasoline refining.  Also, soy is a biggie on the genetically modified list.  Soy is especially troublesome as it’s hidden in so many foods from nutrition bars to infant formula. 

What to Buy:  Buy only organic soy products. 

Well, that’s quite a list.  It’s discouraging to know that I’ll only be adding to it as more foods become contaminated with gm ingredients, or some by-product of gasoline refining, or any number of sex hormones, or heavier and heavier application of pesticides like glyphosate, the ingredient in Roundup.

There is some good news.  There are many vegetables and fruits that are sprayed very little or not at all.  These are currently okay to purchase non-organic:

asparagus, avocados, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, cilantro, daikon radishes, eggplant, garlic, ginger, grapefruit, grapes, green onions, leeks, mandarin oranges, mangoes, okra, onions, pineapple, radishes, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, tangerines, zucchini.

Every time I go to the grocery store I remind myself that every penny I spend is a political act.  I can support Monsanto and the biotech industry or I can say, “Hell, no!” and buy healthy foods grown as close to home as possible as sustainably as possible.  The more of us that do this, the less power the perpetrators have to keep committng these horrible food crimes.

Thank you for visiting Eve’s Daughter.

 

Why Eve’s Daughter?

Hello and welcome to my blog.  Why Eve’s Daughter?  Well, my mother’s name is Eve.  She’s getting older now, hell, I’m getting older now, but my mom looked exactly how you would imagine a good Eve to look:  long auburn hair, intelligent green eyes, a beautiful figure.  She was easy to picture wearing well-placed fig leaves with flowers in her coppery locks, a sly come-hither look in her wide, innocent eyes and an apple in her outstretched hand.  Yep, she was one hot babe and you would’ve eaten that apple too if she had been offering it.

Perhaps because my  mother’s name is Eve, I intuited that the original Eve got somewhat of a bad wrap  and so questioned a “truth” that would put the burden of original sin on one human woman –  the first one, the mother, supposedly, of us all.  An eternity of damnation for one snake-whispered bite?  Come on.  On the other hand,  the creation myth of my childhood provided me a vision of a garden that stays with me today:  a voluptuous, productive, healthy and breathtakingly beautiful garden that would provide for the needs of all:  animal, plant and mineral,  if treated well.

But we haven’t treated our garden well.  Sometimes it seems to me we have done and continue to do everything we can to not only cause harm to our beloved planet, but to cause the most harm, the longest lasting harm, the worst harm.

This blog is about my longing to return to a  time that was  simpler, set in a garden on the North American continent before we devastated it  with deforestation and railroads, dams and bad agriculture.   I don’t remember it in my mind.  I remember it in my bones and in my blood.  I remember it in the DNA handed down through past generations who lived closer to the earth.  I remember peace.  I remember sustainability.  I remember things I have no business remembering.  My longing follows my remembrances and leads me to discoveries along the way:  whole food, slow food, alive, vibrant, healthy food,  love and seasonal rhythms and living life like a sigh.

It also leads me to seek answers for how it got so bad so fast, how we let our astonishing blue planet become polluted, overcrowded, overheated and ill.  How we’ve gotten to the 21st century with dangerous food on the shelves and subsequently, our tables, dangerous agricultural and manufacturing practices that threaten the health of every living thing and a population who has  trouble connecting the dots because there are powers adept at deceit, diversion and creating confusion.

This blog about the sense I am making out of the chaos, or not.   I hope to learn, inform and connect with others who are saddened and disheartened by what they see in the world. And to find hope that there is still reason to live and love and fight for change.

Thank you for visiting Eve’s Daughter.

Prudent Action

In light of the consistent natural disasters that we’re seeing around the world, I want to diverge a moment from the topics of genetically modified foods, our broken food system and the perpetrators involved in the food crimes I’ll continue to write about.

It must be obvious to us all that we’re entering new and frightening territory which will require unique approaches to ensure our and our family’s health and survival.  The time to prepare for the next disaster is now, but how does one go about the task?

I can only spell out the steps I’m taking personally and let each reader decide what is appropriate in their specific circumstances.

I don’t consider my actions alarmist nor am I sitting here preparing for the “end of the world”.  But what happened to the good common sense of being as prepared as possible for the realities that exist and the probabilities that are already happening?

So here’s my plan:

I have a 3-month’s supply of food stored.  I have rice, oats, beans, flour, sugar, salt, vinegar, olive oil, dried milk, baking powder and yeast.  I don’t store canned food and my next post will discuss why.

 

We’re lucky.  We have a well on our property but we still have several 10-gallon jugs of water hanging around.

 

I’ve got rubbing alcohol, aspirin, ibuprofen and a good first aid kit.  I’ve got candles and plenty of wood for heat.  I’ve got potassium iodine.

 

My main goal for this summer is to grow and purchase as much fresh produce and fruit as possible.  I will can, freeze and dry in most of my free time.  We will put up two deer this fall as well as turkeys and fish.   Wild game is the healthiest meat you can eat these days.

 

We are working on a generator system for back up power knowing that all the frozen food could be gone quite quickly.

 

I’m seeking supplies of meat, eggs and dairy that I can participate in directly.

I know people are overwhelmed right now; I sure am.  The scope of devastation and death we’ve been witnessing over the past few years is hard for the human psyche to comprehend.  The feelings of powerlessness, helplessness and rage are real; the intense grief mind-numbing.

Taking good constructive action is a powerful antidote to the depression and fear.  There are only two more things I would recommend:

The people you love?  Make sure they know how much; take every opportunity to express your appreciation that they’re in your life.

Get educated.  Take the time.  Face the truth and act accordingly.

Oh, one more thing.  Notice the powerful full moon tonight and send out healing thoughts and energy when you do.

I would appreciate any suggestions or ideas about how you’re taking action.  Leave me a comment!

Thank you for visiting Eve’s Daughter.

Seed Savers Exchange

Ninety-eight percent of seeds sold in the United States are now sold by Monsanto.  Of course, they won’t be labeled as Monsanto seeds, they’ll be sold under the names American Seeds, Inc., Johnny’s, Cooks and Territorial, among others.  It’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re not sure it’s not a Monsanto seed, it’s a Monsanto seed.

I noticed recently they’re getting on the heirloom bandwagon by offering their own versions of heirloom seeds, but I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw a John Deere tractor.

Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) was founded in 1975 by Kent Whealy and Diane Ott Whealy after Diane’s terminally ill grandfather entrusted them with garden seeds that his parents had brought from Bavaria.

Their mission is to save the world’s diverse but endangered garden heritage for future generations.  SSE has more than 13,000 members who collect, maintain and distribute heirloom vegetable varieties as well as heirloom trees and fruit trees, and even endangered farm animals like White Park cattle.

Purchasing seeds through Seed Savers Exchange ensures the heritage and viability of the product.  And, so far, Monsanto hasn’t gotten their very grubby hands on these seeds.  Let’s keep it that way.

Thank you for visiting Eve’s Daughter.

GMO’s: The Importance of Heirloom Seeds

Black Sea Man tomato

I’m not sure exactly when I became aware of  heirloom vegetables, but in the past few years I’ve come to know them as delicious delicacies that out-flavor any vegetable I’ve previously eaten. I didn’t know until more recently that they’re disappearing from our gardens, tables and plates so fast that today we enjoy only 1% of the varieties of vegetables our ancestors knew 100 years ago.  ONE PERCENT!!  That means we’ve lost 99% of them!  In a hundred years!!  How can it be so?

The story of how this happened has shadowy alleys and dark hallways, medieval dungeons to be lost in and intricate mazes to maneuver.  Oh, and don’t forget those villainous characters.  You’re probably getting to know who they are by now. 

We modern humans traverse a dark hallway known as the sixth great extinction event.  It’s an unfortunate and painful fact of our lives that we’ve become accustomed to hearing about the latest animal species to be threatened, or gone.  We’ve all had to turn away from the thought of the mighty and honorable polar bears swimming for days to find ice only to drown before reaching safety.  The eastern cougar, indigenous to the eastern U.S., a powerful and beautiful cat, is one of the latest to fall. 

But what about plant species?   It seems perfectly logical that we must be losing plants at  least as quickly as we’re losing animals.  After all, habitat destruction is how we continue to “civilize” the world, overuse resources and create toxic waste.  But the case with plants, and especially the plants that we rely on for sustenance, is that they are being lost at an even swifter rate than animals

 It’s not just the extinction event itself that is causing the loss of diversity in our food sources – it’s those characters that seem to be lurking around every corner these days.  Only these are not individual characters, they’re conglomerations of characters, huddles of hunkerous villains undermining good sense and rationality.  They fly under the radar because they’re so hard to name; they’re known as the marketing media, agri-business and the bio-tech industry, among others. 

The loss of agricultural species was put on the extra fast track due to a number of factors, not least the greed and good empire-building values of these fellows.  However, the market demand for fresh, unseasonal fruits and vegetables, anytime, anywhere, immediately, also played a big part.  That’s us, folks.  Those marketing guys aren’t stupid.  They had to sell vegetables that would hold up on long trips, resist non-native disease, and still resemble a fresh veggie when it arrived upon a distant shore.  No wonder I wasn’t so crazy about vegetables as a girl.  I’ve since found heaven in a Black Sea Man tomato, ecstasy with Purple Viking potatoes and peace in wild mountain huckleberries. 

In India, farmers still grew indigenous oil crops like sesame, mustard and linseed – oils unique to the people and the land, unique for use by the body, as recently as 15 years ago.  In 1998, a ban on imported soy oil was lifted and all the local mills that processed the native oils were closed.  A million mills and villages were devastated, ten million farmers lost their livelihood and genetically modified soy monopolized a market that had kept the people and their farms sustainable for generations.  It’s happening in a lot of places.

 With the looming deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa in the U.S., the story enters one of those castle dungeons, a place from which we may not be able to return, a place we definitely don’t want to go, a place we may yet have power to walk away from if we act together and now.

 Already a quarter of our agricultural land is dedicated to genetically modified crops.  Despite the risks to humans and the earth posed by the corn, soy, canola and cottonseed already grown here, alfalfa presents new and potentially far more devastating effects. 

First, alfalfa is a perennial crop – the first to be genetically engineered.  It need not be replanted and once its DNA is altered, all alfalfa that comes back, forever and ever amen, will be altered as well. 

Second, alfalfa is open-pollinated by those wonderful little winged protectors of our food supply:  honeybees, birds, and butterflies.  They will do what they were put here to do and in the process make the spread of the genetic modifications into neighboring fields and crops assured.  Farmers attempting to grow organic alfalfa have no recourse when their fields are contaminated – as a matter of fact, they get sued for it!!  And our fairy-like protectors?  Well, they’re already dying from mysterious diseases; I shudder to think what may happen as they begin to ingest Roundup Ready alfalfa.  Remember, this alfalfa makes its own internal pesticide.  Actually, that’s the only reason it is made, so Monsanto can sell more Roundup. 

Third, the number of potential contaminations increases due to the above very wonderful and god-given traits of alfalfa.  Honey will be contaminated.  Most honey in the U.S. is produced from alfalfa pollen.  There will be virtually no GM-free feed left for the beef, poultry and dairy producers.  It will all be contaminated.  Most exports of domestic animal feed are exported to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Canada:  many of these countries ban genetically modified ingredients and have made it known they won’t buy it.  Any animal that is fed the feed will be contaminated.  Are you getting the picture?  It’s ugly. 

Is this whole deal beginning to seem as stupid to you as it does to me?  I mean, talk about shooting oneself in the foot.  Or more likely the gut, which is where these pesticide producing crops tend to cause a lot of trouble.  That would be your gut, and mine, the honeybees and the butterflies, the chickens and cows and don’t forget the soil. 

And with 98% of seed sales coming from the perpetrators themselves, heirloom vegetables become ever more important for the future of our country, and maybe even our species.  Heirlooms are the best of the best – bred for high nutrition, native disease-resistance, consistency and flavor.  They’re what real food is supposed to be.  This is the food you want to be eating when food is scarce – not genetically modified corn and soy made into food-like products.  But what happens to this food as genetically modified crops take over the landscape?  And what happens to the people who need the food for life?  I’m guessing we don’t want Monsanto answering that question.

GMO’s: A Rustic Remedy

Pretty scary stuff, this GMO business.  Scary how quickly our food supply has become dominated by genetically modified ingredients and non-food ingredients like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, how quickly we moved from the highly nutritious, natural food of our ancestors to a bunch of highly processed stuff that somewhat resembles food.

As I’m learning to steer away from these not-natural-at-all foods, I’ve adopted what I call a rustic diet.  There are only a couple of rules with a rustic diet:

  1. Whole ingredients born and raised in stewardship with the land and the animals from which they come.
  2. Cook it yourself:  no boxes, cans or plastic bottles with  processed, pre-made stuff.
  3. The most important rule:  love your food.

Other than that, it’s wide open. Want to be vegan rustic?  Great!  This first recipe is vegan, but I’ll be posting others that include meat and dairy.  I believe wild game to be one of the healthiest foods left on the planet and take full advantage of it myself, but that’s a personal choice.

Rustic food is so healthy I consider it medicinal in nature.  Here’s my first offering:

Rustic Roasted Roots

1 large yam or sweet potato
1 or 2 other potatoes (I usually use yukon gold)
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
1 onion
8-10 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Coarsely ground sea salt
Fresh herbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice and layer potatoes, onion, pepper and garlic in a cast iron skillet.  Bless your food, love it, tell it how beautiful it is.  Thank it for it’s gift.  Anoint with olive oil.  Bake covered in pre-heated oven for 1/2 hour, then take it out, toss it and love it some more.  Put it back in and bake it for another 1/2 an hour or so.  Take it out, bless with fresh or dried herbs (I like rosemary), coarsely ground sea salt and finish in the oven, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

Now, don’t just eat it.  Become one with your food, let it’s medicinal nature soothe your belly, heart and spirit.  Thank it often and ENJOY!!!  This is good stuff!!

GMO’s = Death Crops? Part III

How are you feeling about your food these days?

I feel differently about mine; I look at it differently, think of it differently.  I spend some time being angry with myself for not researching GMO’s sooner and taking action to at least keep the stuff out of my own body.  I’m obsessive with ingredient labels and if I don’t know whether a food is organic, I have a hard time eating it.

I understand that most of you don’t have time to research every news story that comes along that seems alarming.  It’s hard enough these days to keep your family fed and the bills paid without having to worry about whether your foods are genetically engineered and could make you and your children sick.  It’s hard enough to get through the day hoping the recovery is a real recovery and the tide is going to turn again to growth.

Who has time to be infuriated by the negligence and complicity of our government agencies, the ones committed to protect us, in the perpetration of an almost complete monopoly over our food supply?  I only had time because the economy hit me early and unemployment provided the time and opportunity for me to dig beyond the media news, the sound bytes and public opinion to find out the real stories.

The statistic that bothers me the most from the animal studies cited in Part I is that mice fed the corn that most of us are eating today (and don’t forget everything made with corn:  high fructose corn syrup, cornmeal, etc.)  show structural changes (genetic) in the liver, spleen and pancreas, changes in the way their genes function in the gut, and reduced fertility over four generations.

You don’t get a do-over on structural genetic changes in our organs or the bacteria that help our bowels work.  The generations that follow don’t get a do-over.  The very worst part about all of this is that you can’t take it back.  How arrogant would we be to think that possible?  About as arrogant as the big pigs at Monsanto, I guess.

I imagine they feel they have good reason to be arrogant.  As food prices continue to rise and shortages become more the norm than the exception, who will we be looking to for the seeds we plant in the gardens we hope will feed us?  Why, Monsanto of course.  And what will they be selling us?  Seeds that commit genetic suicide after one generation.   Yeah, I’m thinking they’re feeling pretty smug as Obama pushes one genetic crop after another through the net without proper testing, labeling or research.

And what if their intentions are bigger than the fattening of their own pocketbooks?  What if they somehow come to feel that the rest of us are inferior and should probably just be eliminated?  Well, let me tell you folks, it would be no problem with the technology.  No problem at all.  It would be far too late before we ever realized what was happening.

I believe if you spend five minutes really thinking about these organisms and the implications of unleashing the worst of the technology on an unsuspecting public, it will change your life as much as it’s changed mine.

There is one community who has tried diligently to warn us of the dangers of these foods.  Oddly enough, we have chosen to ignore the scientific community when it comes to this issue, an issue that requires good science behind it if ever there was one.

Way back in 1999, over 800 scientists from 84 different countries submitted an open letter to our United States Congress and other potential allies.  Their letter begins:

We, the undersigned scientists, call for the immediate suspension of all environmental releases of GM crops and products, both commercially and in open field trials, for at least 5 years; for patents on living processes, organisms, seeds, cell lines and genes to be revoked and banned; and for a comprehensive public enquiry into the future of agriculture and food security for all.

We urge the US Congress to reject GM crops as both hazardous and contrary to the interest of family farmers; and to support research and development of sustainable agricultural methods that can truly benefit family farmers all over the world.

You can read the entire letter here and see the scientists who have signed it and where it was sent.

This story goes beyond political rhetoric or disagreement, religious differences and lifestyle choices.  It strikes to the heart of every one of us because we all have to eat to live.

My hope is that you’re beginning to see your food differently, too, and understand why this food crime is a serious crime against all of us – perpetrated by mega-corporations with no concern, hopefully, beyond their own quite hefty bottom line.

I have joined the Millions Against Monsanto campaign sponsored by the Organic Consumers Association.  I’m committed to doing everything I possibly can to stop this criminal trespass on our food.

Thank you for visiting Eve’s Daughter.

GMO’s = Death Crops? Part II

Did you know that fully 2/3rds of all processed food in the United States now contain genetically modified ingredients?  I don’t know about you but that fully scares the hell out of me.

1/4th of all agricultural land in the U. S. is now dedicated to genetically modified crops including corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed.  If Monsanto and the government have their way, it’ll be a lot more, and real soon.

The first thing to know is that we did not let this happen.   The corporations, government agencies and politicians who are behind this food crime have done and continue to do exactly what they want to increase their profits, provide new markets for their products, and get re-elected.

This is a story full of villainous characters, tromped-upon little people (include yourself in that list) and enough twists and turns to leave you dizzy and confused.  I couldn’t put it down.

It’s enough to get your head around the fact that we have the kind of technology that allows us to fiddle around with DNA, criss-crossing genes like children playing with their newest transformer toy, but how did it so easily and quietly infiltrate our lives and our grocery stores?

The doorway to an altered future was cracked with the technology, but it was blasted wide open with the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for untested, unlabeled, mutant foods to wind up on our tables and in our bodies.  In 1980 the Supreme Court decided in the case of Diamond vs. Chakrabarty, that life forms could be patented for commercialization.   Did you feel that?  It was probably a chill going up your spine.

Patents are government guarantees that provide an “inventor” with exclusive rights to use, sell or manufacture an invention for a set period of time.  Living organisms, plant and animal and human organisms, and their genes, are now considered inventions (sorry about that god).  This decision makes all genes (including the ones in you and me) patentable by an inventor who, subtly or not, is able to tweak that organism and call it theirs.

Better watch out for that next vaccine.

In the years following the decision, 98% of all seed sales in the United States have become controlled by a few chemical giants like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow.  They started gobbling up seed companies like their gm alfalfa is going to gobble up all our natural alfalfa and render more cropland wasted and spent.

It’s tempting to start with the villainous characters, but the tromped-upon little people are what set my alarm bells ringing when I started my research.  So, let’s talk about some of them, our friends and neighbors, our farmers and veterans.

Percy Schmieser had been farming canola on his farm in Saskatchewan Canada for 40 years.  In that 40 years, he had experimented, developed his own varieties and saved his own seed.  He was beginning to reap the benefits from his hard work when in stepped Monsanto.  When Percy’s crop became contaminated with genetically modified canola grown by nearby farmers, Monsanto accused him of patent infringement and demanded restitution for its seeds.  They sued Percy to the tune of $400,000 including $250,000 in legal fees, $105,000 in profits the agri-giant claims Percy stole from them and $25,000 in punitive damages.

The case made its way through the courts with Monsanto chalking up wins until it reached Canada’s Supreme Court where the final tally became a draw.  The court decided that Monsanto’s patent is valid but they did not require that Percy pay anything as he did not profit from the presence of Roundup Ready® canola in his fields.  I’m sure the irony is not lost on Percy.  Profit?  They ruined his livelihood.

In another case, Monsanto, who reported profits of 1.88 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2010, sued Oakhurst Dairy, a small dairy farm operating in Maine since 1921.  Oakhurst’s crime?   Responding to consumer’s demand for milk without the synthetic growth hormone, rGBH.  This genetically engineered hormone stimulant increases milk production by as much as 15% and is implicated in mad cow disease.  Every other industrialized nation in the world has banned milk from cows injected with the hormone except us. Monsanto claimed Oakhurst should not be able to advertise that their milk was free of the chemical.  Oakhurst Dairy was forced to settle out of court with Monsanto, leaving the door open for them to keep right on tromping and keeping the genetically modified ingredients in our food unlabeled.

And how does Monsanto feel about our war veterans and the innocent civilians who were sprayed with Agent Orange, the toxic chemical used extensively in the Vietnam War?  They refuse to offer 10,000 vets and thousands of Vietnam citizens compensation for the health consequences they’ve suffered.  They claim the chemical, one of the most toxic compounds ever created, is not harmful, even though it’s been shown to cause birth defects, cancer, neurological disorders and death.

Are you beginning to wonder where the FDA, the USDA, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture and our elected officials have been?  In a twist definitely planned to benefit only those corporations making and selling the genetically engineered foods, they’ve all been making whoopee in the same bed.  Lobbyists, corporate executives and the appointed officials trade places like they’re playing musical chairs.

Here’s a sampling:

Michael Taylor was appointed by Obama as Senior Advisor to the FDA’s Commissioner on Food Safety.  Michael Taylor was the Vice President for Public Policy at the Monsanto Corporation from 1998 until 2001.

Tom Vilsack is Secretary of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.  As governor of Iowa, Vilsack chaired the governor’s Biotechnology Partnership as a leading advocate for Monsanto, the bio-tech industry and factory farming.

Roger Beachy is now director of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.  Prior to this appointment, Beachy was the long-time president of the Danforth Plant Science Center (a non-profit arm of Monsanto).

Monsanto leaves nothing to chance.  Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court Justice, is a former attorney of theirs.

I was surprised to learn that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of Monsanto’s non-profit arms.  As a major contributor to National Public Television, they are trying to convince us that genetically modified crops can feed the world, helping Monsanto infiltrate unsuspecting African countries  with their frankenfoods and increasing their profits by millions.  Interestingly, yields from genetically modified crops are not shown to be better than natural crops.

Considering there has already been one major incident of deaths and disabilities due to a genetically modified supplement, and considering that it’s just a matter of time until adverse effects in humans start to show up from one of these teenage-mutant-ninja foods, it’s not only important that we learn how to avoid them, but that we act to stop it now  before it gets any worse, before another crop is approved with no testing and no requirements to be labeled and before one of us ends up being the next guinea pig to die or be disabled.

The Center for Food Safety has a great guide to help us avoid genetically modified foods.  In some ways it’s complicated because they are so prevalent in processed foods and because nothing has to be labeled.  In other ways, it’s simple:  buy organic and cook your food from whole ingredients.

And remember, taking action now is as simple as clicking the mouse.    The Organic Consumers Association has a great action page that can get you started.  Also, share, share, share.  Share on facebook, in your living room, your church, your school, with your local elected officials and each other.

Thank you for visiting Eve’s Daughter.