Monsanto and other biotechs. Are they giving corn a bad name?

Let’s start with I love grilling season! My favorite foods are always grilled. And now fresh corn is coming into season and there’s nothing better than corn on the cob with your favorite grilled meat. I’m getting even more excited now!? Well I don’t know. Well maybe. Well maybe not. OK, the GMO (genetically modified organism) issue has taken away my thunder. Now this beautiful looking corn that I just bought isn’t feeling so beautiful after all. I mean it’s what’s inside that counts isn’t it?

Isn’t this the way you feel about corn these days or any other GM food that is on the market for that matter? There is a huge stigma right now about GM foods in general and corn is at the top of the list. But do we really know if what we’re consuming is GM or not? Will we ever know? Who’s really testing it all? And then if it’s out of our control, how much does it matter? Is it really that bad for you? Haven’t almost all foods been genetically modified over the centuries to some degree, as my mother pointed out? Maybe she’s right?

Well I’ve looked at some of the pros and cons to try to quiet my mind about it a little.

The first issue we usually hear about is that modifying a plants natural genetic makeup to create a plant that is more resistant to certain pesticides/herbicides is creating super bugs and super weeds. No, we cannot control evolution. Plants and animals have always evolved over time to survive. What would make these pests that attack our food supply any different. In turn, this causes farmers to have to increase the amount of pesticides and herbicides that they apply to their crops as well as use stronger pesticides/herbicides. Mainly it’s a matter of overly dousing our food supply with harmful chemicals and the percentage of those chemicals that will be inevitably ingested by us increases. This doesn’t sound that great.

And then, there are the farmers and their struggles to survive Monsanto and other biotech companies. If there’s one industry that should never be monopolized or controlled by government lobbyists, it’s this one. But it seems that’s exactly what is happening. So once our farmers have “sold their soul” so to speak and taken the easier and more profitable way to produce crops by purchasing the super herbicide/pesticide resistant seeds from a biotech company, they are forever in their debt. But wait, not only them. Also the poor farmers that did not want to produce the GM product in the first place.

So this is how they get hooked. Once you’ve planted these super seeds from a biotech company, first, you cannot harvest the seeds for the next season and just replant them as farmers have done over the ages. This would seem like a god given right, no? At least you would think. Oh no. If you want to replant the GM seed, you must repurchase the seeds every season.

But, the biggest problem that farmers are facing is this. There are the farmers that didn’t purchase their seed from these biotech companies, but end up with plants with the same genetic makeup as the GM seed in their crops. How does this happen? Yes, it is obvious. They are plants! Plants cross-pollinate. Pollen can be carried over miles.

So now the farmers that originally wanted nothing to do with the GM seed are in inadvertently susceptible to being sued by these biotech companies for royalties because the genetically modified “product” has ended up in their fields. Yes, they have patented their manufactured gene manipulation of a plant. A plant of all things!? A living organism that was created for the earth to be used as sustenance by other living organisms. Not owned by one entity. This sounds a little frightening, right?

Now what are the pros to GM food?

GM foods help to reduce world hunger and feed the fast growing, world population by increasing the world’s food supply. Because besides being easier to grow, they are also genetically modified to double yields and produce more nutrient rich foods, so that very little faster growing food can sustain more life. This is a good thing!

There have been studies on whether it is safe to consume GM foods and conclusively they it has been found safe to ingest. They are even as safe as organic or non-GM foods, minus the pesticide issue. This is also a great thing. Although, GM foods were only approved for market in 1982, so maybe some more and longer testing and results would make me feel better.

I guess the information against GM food out there is still too new and not substantial enough to make up my mind completely, but I don’t see what it hurts to avoid these GM foods if the choice is put in front of me. If for nothing else, for the farmers who are being taken advantage of by these big biotech companies.

So, if I can. I will.

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