A World Without Frankenfoods

I’ve been following the coverage of the nation-wide March Against Monsanto protests last weekend, as well as the aftermath discussion of GMO and GE foods. I find the case against GMOs especially persuasive in light of the fact that they’re banned in many countries, Japan has stopped importing GE wheat from the US, and in some places, like Hungary, they’re actually burning their GMO crops to prevent GMOs from infiltrating their food supply.

Think about that: what would it take for a farmer to voluntarily burn his crops – his livelihood – his community’s food supply, and the means by which he pays his bills and feeds his children? My guess is it would take some pretty compelling evidence that what he’s growing isn’t fit for consumption.

What are these other countries willing to admit, that we’re not? What do they know about GMOs that we don’t?

GMO foods, of course, are designed to maximize yields per square foot of land year after year. Planting the same crops on the same land, however, leaches nutrients from the soil and invites pathogens and pests. Different types of crops attract different kinds of diseases and insects. They also use and replace different soil nutrients. By rotating crops each year – rather than planting monocultures of the same soybeans, corn, or wheat – soil nutrients are replaced, and bugs don’t get too cozy in your crop. If done the right way, crop rotation could eliminate the need for genetic engineered crops in the first place.

Can we imagine a system that produces our food in a radically different way than it does now? Can we imagine a food system that respects the biodiversity inherent in a healthy, closed-loop ecosystem? One that has room for bees and other pollinators, a rich array of nutrients for both the plants and the humans that eat them, and farmers with ownership over their own land and their seeds? One that seeks sustainability over maximized profits?

It’s about time we tried.

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