Warning: may contain GMOs

aired on 1/25:

I discussed the GMO controversy with Food and Society Policy Kellog fellow Melinda Hemmelgarn, [and Truman State University biology professor Dr. Brent Buckner.]– Dr. Buckner failed to respond to my phone calls and emails to have him on the show.

Melinda suggests using the precautionary principle when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because, even if they are harmless, there is a chance they could be toxic to our systems. But her risk analysis isn’t unjustified.

She recommends reading from Clare Hope Cummings’ newest book about the truth behind GMOs, Uncertain Peril. Consider the risks to small farmers who have been collecting seed for generations, who now have a constant fear that their seed will be contaminated with GM crop seed, which is distributed by fewer and fewer corporations. Among the largest is Monsanto, who was qu0ted as stating that it is the FDA’s job to regulate the safety of GMOs, not theirs.

Recently, sugar beets have gone modified, and with half of our sugar processed from sugar beets, it would be wise to buy organic sugar in the future. The certified organic label is the only sure way to know that there are no GMOs in your food.

But they’re helping people in developing countries, right? Golden rice is a classic example of how GMOs can help “re-nutrify” a landscape that has been plundered by industrial agriculture. But that’s just it, inserting these band-aid crops (especially where GMO seed is cheaper than traditional seed), is only converting one hazardous agricultural system into another. A better way to serve the nutritional needs of these people (and ourselves) is to revert to more sustainable and BIODIVERSE agricultural practices.

And seed banks? Don’t they protect us from diminishing diversity? Sure, but if a bug hits (and stronger pest reactions appear in GMO fields), we can’t start the season from scratch, and seed banks are vulnerable to industry and demolition (read the introduction of Cummings book for more on that!).

But this is just the beginning of the conversation, and I encourage your feedback and interest, because food is culture, and culture is a precious resource.

For more on GMOs, check out these sites and resources:

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/geneticall7.cfm

http://www.panna.org/node/1527

http://mindfully.org/GE/GE4/Heartbreak-In-The-Heartland21jul02.htm

http://www.truecostoffood.org/

http://www.thefutureoffood.com/

http://www.jhsph.edu/clf/

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/

and you can read the first few pages of Uncertain Peril on Google books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=8aiTuzKYZu8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=uncertain+peril&client=firefox-a#PPR8,M1

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~ by hannahlh on January 28, 2009.

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