Monday, November 18, 2013

Diversity is key - we know this to be true in so many realms. GMO's have got to go. Let's start telling and living the new story.

EDIT: a conversation tonight at dinner revealed further how much some believe monsanto is the only way to go. And then  appropriately, I found this "Small Scale Organic Farming - Only Way to Feed The World is the report they are referring to: Wake Up Before It's Too Late. And this epic article by good ol Joel Salatin.

What we do to others, and everything else - we do to ourselves. 

We are all interconnected. This, is a fundamental truth of our day, and this truth, when fully embraced, will facilitate positive and lasting change. We.all.are. 

I was recently having a chat with my Aunt about genetically modified organisms (GMO). She knows someone who works at Monsanto, and I am always curious to know what goes on inside the head of someone who works there. In light of the recent March against Monsanto, and the energy building - I thought I'd ask her if any of it was getting through to them, and what it all meant from their perspective.

Global March Against Monsanto
Vancouver Art Gallery Steps - Oct 12, 2013

She told me they see their job as an extremely important one. Ultimately, to save humanity - which is a pretty intense responsibility, no question. But is it true? And, is it really up to one group of people to save all of humanity? Can that even be possible? Does it even need "saving"? It's, of course, all in how it's framed, and our underlying context of how we see the world, and how we fit into it that would attempt to answer these questions.

She mentioned, and not surprisingly, that the underlying belief of those at Monsanto was, more often than not, "if we do not learn to modify seeds to create higher yield crops - we will never be able to feed the billions of hungry people on our planet." Ah yes - that old point.

That lead me to this massive email response, largely because it is a very important issue, but also because I type fast....but I decided it would be good to blog about it, too, so as to spread the message as far as it can go - that GMO's have got to go. 

We need to stop perpetrating the myths that these large companies want to feed us. Like the genetically modified high fructose corn syrup that they are putting in our every product, it’s sickening.

Each and every one of us needs to become educated so we can start taking a stand, and start saying YES to products we know we want, those which are GMO-free. Sadly, gone are the days (for now!) where we could walk into the grocery story and trust that the food on the shelves was good, wholesome, nutritious food. The system has evolved, for better or for worse, and so must our interactions with it.

It seems the main reason/argument for GMO's that I've got in talking to people is, "not being able to feed the billions of hungry people", and not coincidentally this is probably the biggest myth that Monsanto, and the other GE companies are perpetrating, and it's a dangerous one at that. 

Let's dig a bit deeper, on why that might be so.

I think what is tremendously hurtful and disrespectful is that these large companies play on a very natural human tendency - to feel compassion for others, to want to help and do the right thing. 

Of course if you say to someone "what, you don't want to feed the world? you want billions to go hungry?" they will say no, they will feel awful, guilty, and likely stop debating the subject, because now it’s called their own morality into question, and who wants to be a direct cause of people dying of hunger. It’s manipulative to pull on someone’s heart strings like that, especially when it’s not even true. It reminds me of the chat between Kevin O'Leary and the Rachel Parent - he certainly took that angle, among a few other nasty ones.

The bottom line - what we face is absolutely not a food shortage. What we face is a massive distribution problem. This is a fundamental understanding, and with this understanding, the whole problem shifts. 

[There's actually a movie in the works Food Waste Movie, really looking forward to it, it's by same people as Clean Bin Project, so we know it will be fantastic.]

At the end of the day, GM foods do not increase yields, and in fact they become perpetually more energy intensive to maintain. 

 Nature adapts, what she is best at, to the conventional methods, creating new, super-pests to rise to the occasion, which then puts Monsanto and other companies back to the labs to cook up the next generation of toxic seeds and sludge that they can flush into existence. And, of course, getting all "scientific" like that costs money, someone's got to pay that cost. Farmers having to pay for  increased quantities of toxins, and increased intensities of that toxic chemical soup, but not only from a monetary perspective, there are, of course, tremendous health costs associated with this too. And it's not just those directly involved having to pay - you and I pay, indirectly, because we breath the same air, and drink the same water - we are all connected. There's that fundamental truth again.

A business model that runs on the need to perpetually create and frantically sell the "next generation" has those working in these companies laughing. But, perhaps the laughter is to cover up the fear. I mean, unlimited sales, and ever-increasing growth? It sounds awkwardly similar to apple (well, actually, a lot of business models, that are starting to become extinct) and their desire to continually pump out new versions of products to keep sales high. This makes sense only in a world that values money over life, and thankfully that is changing.

From an economic perspective alone, as oil prices rise,  we can see that a system heavily dependent on fossil fuels is a system asking for trouble. Sure - it makes good business sense, for a few at the top - have farmers forever indebted to us, patent food, and own the worlds food supply.  But really, when you think about it - what is good business sense. Should it really just be about profit? Is that really even good for "those at the top"? I would argue it isn't good for them either. It must be lonely up there, trying to control a system that cannot be controlled, and trying to find refuge in your bottom line. Let the money numb the pain, fill the void. It doesn't sound good for anyone involved. And, again I go back to - what we do to others, we do to ourselves. We can only be as strong as our weakest link. It's time we see that interconnection, before it's too late.

This old method becomes a never ending cycle of increased energy requirements - a frantic rat race. Which feels oddly similar to how most of us feel right now in our lives. 

There has got to be another way. Thankfully there is - polycultures, composting, naturally replenishing the soil, working with nature, instead of against. Indeed the publication, found for free, at Earth Open Source, debunks all these myths  - and thank goodness for that. Please read it, and please share, especially with those touting GMO's as the "only way of the future". That is simply bad science!

"[GMO's] Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on. 

Bottom line - GM foods do not increase yields, they may deceive us in the beginning, making us think they do, but after a short while, we need more and more energy (specifically, $ and oil used in the fertilizers and chemicals that need to be used on these products). 

The food grown in these conventional systems is so void of those key micro-nutrients that we don't get when the soil is essentially dirt, no longer rich in nutrients, it lies depleted of its micro-organisms and as a result, these industrial farmers are left spoon-feeding a chemical juice mix in the dire hopes that it will give them what they need to repay their debts to these large companies. It sounds extreme but this is happening.

Nature does not require any of this when we work with her. What a concept!

Nature will always find a way to adapt, because she’s pretty spectacular like that, and so we will continually be required to exert more and more energy, to combat her, to grow monocultures where she wants polycultures, to pump toxins where, if we just let her, she would provide her own pest-resistant pheromones, among other wonders. 

Why do we want to fight, when we can love and be even more successful. We got into this mess from a fighting mind-set, but we can get out of it with love. We need to change the story of how we exist in this world. It is not one of power and combat, it's one of interconnection, and interbeing. As Charles Eisenstein says, more for you, is more for me too.

Genetic diversity, crop diversity - these are key things to the survival of all humans and when we homogenize a system, we give that all up. Are we really ready to do that? Do we really think we’re smarter than nature and can control everything?

It makes me sad that the dominant story is the one told by these large companies, who have profit as their bottom line, who have not yet stepped into the new way of living, in harmony, and in love. 

If it was really about caring for the people of the world (as they say, not lettings billions go hungry) it would not be met with such strife. 

At the end of the day, I feel we need to respect that this is all very very new science, and we are all still learning in an incredible system that is ever-changing, and remarkably complex - that, we ought not to forget, we are a part of, too. If we want to try, we darn well better test it out first, before wrecking our whole life source. And, let's actually test it, independently, not let those who stand to gain from the profits, do the testing. And in the meantime, let me know what's in my food, so I can decide for myself if I want to be part of a science experiment or not. What happened to the precautionary principle? Where have all our values gone, Canada, humans of this earth?

At the end of the day I believe we have to let our old understandings go. Nature is not there for us to control. She is there for us to learn from, interact with, and become better people because of her. She is there with open arms and we don't need to keep fighting her. What you love, you do not control.'s sheer insanity but the truth always survives...and the truth is coming out strong and loud, with a unified voice, for all to hear. I just hope that it isn't too late when we finally kick this GMO habit to the curb - i.e., that enough crop diversity is maintained and that the GM seeds have not contaminated the rest of our healthy plants.

What we do to others, and everything else - we do to ourselves. We are all interconnected. We all are.

What can YOU do?
1) Read the ingredient list
  • Anything that has a corn derivative (maltodextrin, dextrin, corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose etc) or soy,  is likely GMO unless specifically says non, because majority of corn and soy crops have been infected with the GMO strain. 

2) Look for products with “Non GMO Project" logo
  • This is a great initiative that helps consumers know what products are verified GMO free (until producers are actually required to label it).  They have their verified non-gmo products all listed on their site too - so you can plan in advance, and figure out which stores have these products.
  • You can even submit a request for a product that you wish to see verified if it's not yet - see here
  • Their website, in general, is  a great start. It provides a plethora of tools on how to navigate the GMO and non GMO realm.

3) Contact everyone and engage in dialogue!
  • Producers: email or call them to ask if their products are GMO free, the more they see consumers caring about this, the more willing they will be to change. After all – we have the last say as we vote with our dollar. I recently did this with a few companies – an example is below – no more Miss Vicky’s for me (which I realize they are not a good choice in the first place but sometimes we have cravings that are leftover as our bodies transition into this new era) and luckily we have this brand that is verified GMO free 
  • Regulating Bodies: contact your local city councillors, federal, or provincial regulatory members. A bit of searching online, or calling the city (311 in Vancouver) and asking some questions, will point you in the right direction. You can take direct action here and they also have their own 8 things you can do! which is super helpful. Here is some info for Canada. A quick internet search will give you a lot to work with!
  • Friends and family: talk about it, bring it into conversation and get it into your dialogue - the more people hear and know about it, the better we will be. This is an important issue that affects us all

Here is an email I sent. I gathered they did use GMO but I wanted to find out for certain, and also let them know this was something their "consumers" were worried about. The answer is clear - I won't be eating these chips again.

So, as you see it's quite the subject and I've really only hit on a few aspects here. There is lots of great information out there, but by the same token there is also a lot of media from those who stand to gain from GMO production - so know what you're reading, and if the source is credible. At the end of the day - ask your self what you feel comfortable with. Gambling with our life or playing it safe? I'm going to go with playing it safe. 

If someone gives me a tremendously thoughtful gift, say, I accept it with gratitude and love it. The value is derived in who it came from, and the thought put into it - I do not modify it because that would discount its meaning and purpose. Nature has provided us amazing gifts, we ought not to modify those gifts.

When issues of the day overwhelm me, I like to remember that together we can, and together we already are.

I am sending out tremendous gratitude for all. 

Some additional resources:

"Don't Eat It" - Michael Jackson styles

The Monsantrocity
Articles and such

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