Just say no to GMOs!

Stonyfield Guest Blogger Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D. shares some thoughts on the recent USDA decision and why it’s important for moms to unite against GMOs.

Have you ever gone online to search for one topic, only to find yourself clicking on another tempting link, which takes you deep into the web of fascinating information? That’s how I discovered Kathleen Dean Moore.

Moore is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University, an environmental writer, and mother. I was investigating the Midwest Regional Collaborative for Sustainability Education when I stumbled upon one of Moore’s lectures in which she posed several thought-provoking questions, such as: What is our obligation to future generations?

We mothers from all walks of life and points of view would likely agree that our obligation for tomorrow’s children is to err on the side of caution and safety today. For example, Moore describes a scene in which future generations of children question their ancestors’ decisions: “What did you think we would drink when our aquifers became contaminated?”

And that, dear friends, is why we must unite, and say NO to GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The safety of our children’s future water, soil, plants, animals and health depends on our actions today.

With the USDA’s recent green light decision allowing the unrestricted planting of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, let me clarify a few basic facts about GMOs/GE crops that often slip under the radar.

First and foremost: GE crops, such as “Roundup Ready” soy, sugar beets and alfalfa are all engineered to withstand Monsanto’s toxic herbicide, “Roundup.” The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which is systemically transported throughout the plant and may eventually find its way into our groundwater. In the soil, glyphosate disrupts the complex microbial ecosystem.

Make no mistake: herbicides (and pesticides) are poisons with unintended and not fully understood consequences.

Some herbicides are “neurotoxic,” or poisonous to the wiring in our brains and nervous systems. Others are “endocrine disruptors,” toxic to our endocrine or hormone systems. Think: increased risk of birth defects and cancer.

Even the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel Report recommends choosing foods that have not been grown with these compounds. So why would the USDA allow planting crops that would increase the use of toxic chemicals? Perhaps those in charge of agriculture policy didn’t read the Cancer Report.

Make no mistake: agricultural practices are tightly linked to the health of present and future generations.

The irony of the latest decision to approve GE alfalfa is that most farmers don’t use herbicides to grow the crop. So why start now if there’s no need?

Dr. Warren Porter, a zoologist at the University of Wisconsin, says the main reason for making GE crops is to be able to sell more pesticides/herbicides. And you can bet these GE foods will have higher concentrations of pesticide residues, explains Porter. “This is what people don’t realize.”

Because weeds and pests naturally develop resistance to the poisons designed to kill them, farmers graduate to using more and stronger chemicals to kill new “superweeds,” further harming our soil, polluting our water and contaminating our food.

Sure enough, researchers at Dow AgroSciences and the University of Missouri have genetically engineered soybean plants to tolerate” 2,4-D,” a suspected endocrine disruptor that can lead to thyroid problems, prostate cancer and reproductive abnormalities. This chemical has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and delays in brain development. Pregnant women and children are most susceptible.

We have yet to find the smoking gun behind the staggering increases in autism, ADHD, and childhood food allergies, but in keeping with our obligation to future generations, it is prudent not to add more toxic chemicals to our environment.

Worse still, GE alfalfa threatens to contaminate non genetically modified and organic alfalfa, a critical ingredient in an organic cow’s diet. So by approving and planting GE alfalfa, those of us who prefer organic meat and dairy may be without that choice.

Mothers, it’s time to unite: Talk to your friends, your farmers, and family. Ignite your social networks. Call the President’s office and let him know we are obligated to safeguard our children’s health. Say NO to GE alfalfa: www.whitehouse.gov/contact

* Kathleen Dean Moore’s lecture
* Dr. Warren Porter’s interview on Food Sleuth Radio
* Beyond Pesticides
* The Pesticide Action Network of North America
* President’s Cancer Panel

Why does fighting against GMOs matter to you?