October 2012 marks the 3rd Annual NON-GMO Month, created by the Non-GMO Project. This event spreads awareness of Genetically Modified Organisms and the right of a consumer to choose non-GMO. The United States has approved the use of GMOs and does not mandate the labeling of such ingredients on food products. It is up to us, as consumers, to decide if we will allow such foods to enter our personal food sources.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals created through genetic engineering or gene manipulation. This process merges DNA from different species and creates new organisms unable to occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding.
There are many issues and controversies surrounding the use of GMOs in America’s food supply. One issue is hard to dispute and should not be ignored - the effects of GMO use on farmers. For use in conventional agriculture, GMOs were created to be drought tolerant and resistant to herbicides and pesticides while increasing yields. The allowance of GMOs in the food supply has made it harder for farmers planting GMO seed or not.
Those farmers using GMO seed must often use more chemicals to kill bugs and weeds, because these pests may build up tolerances to man-made pesticides. Also many GMO plants do not flower and seed, thus limiting the farmer’s ability to save seed and forcing the purchase of new GMO seed year after year.
Farmers who choose to grow naturally may find it hard to compete with the yield and size produced by farmers utilizing GMO seed. Farmers may even find themselves open to lawsuit if their property is contaminated with GMO, regardless of natural drift and pollination, because GMOs represent a unique life form, and the companies creating them own patents regulating their use.
The more GMOs allowed into the food supply, the smaller our food supply grows. Without the ability to save seed and cross-pollinate, the variety of fruits and vegetables diminishes along with flavor and nutritional value. Sustainable agricultural practices can preserve a diverse and natural food supply. The issue of GMO is one for the present and our future.
What can you do? Visit NON-GMO Project for more information on GMOs and NON-GMO Month events. Remember to vote with your wallet: Shop locally and buy organic!
Written by CMB