A Month Without Monsanto

I know many of my friends are interested in sustainable agriculture and have justifiable reservations about the incredible prevalence of genetically-modified foodstuffs and other products in our lives today.  I was very glad to be able to listen to another Scripps graduate last Wednesday, April Davila, who is currently working on both a nonfiction writing project and a novel as she finishes her Master’s in Professional Writing program.

April’s nonfiction writing project is “A Month Without Monsanto” which began March 1.

Agriculture giant Monsanto says that they use “innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more. We help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture’s impact on our environment.”

Many people aren’t aware of the degree to which genetic modification is used in our production of basic foodstuffs and the underlying ingredients in nearly everything we wear, breathe, put on our skin and otherwise use.  While it is true that “genetic modification” in the sense of selective breeding or agriculture techniques dates to at least 10,000 years ago, the type of genetic modification that produces animals like the Glofish is relatively new.

Glofish Yes, they’re real, yes, they glow in the dark, yes, they appear to be relatively healthy, and yes, you can buy them.  No, I’m not going to link to them.  If a “regular” fish isn’t good enough for you then you should be enterprising enough to get one of these little guys on your own.

This is what Monsanto has to say about the bioscience they use.

The official scientific position on genetically-modified foodstuffs is:  if it’s going in your stomach, you are going to digest it, so it can’t “modify” you.  This sounds vaguely reasonable at first.  In fact, one scientist I asked about this commented on the bovine growth hormone rBST – “It can’t be what’s causing early onset puberty among girls – it’s a cow hormone!” Uh.  Uh.  It’s well-accepted that orally-given, medically-prescribed hormones do enter the bloodstream and do cause intended, medically-understood biological changes in those who take them.  The fact is, these substances have not been thoroughly tested; when I learned of their presence in poultry and beef, I immediately stopped buying all non-organic, non-locally produced meat and serving it to my daughter, and also began to buy organic, locally-produced milk.  Why?  She seemed to be going through early signs of puberty . . . and guess what?  Those stopped!  And her pediatrician didn’t question at all that this was the cause of many young girls he’d seen, some beginning puberty at only ages 7 and 8.  Yes, here in Southern California, a decade ago.

But enough ranting and raving.  These hormones are just one aspect of bioengineering as applied to foodstuffs and agriculture.  April’s mission is to cut all of these items out of her diet and life for a month and find out the results.  So, do visit A Month Without Monsanto and share in this journey . . . can it be done?  We’ll see!  It’s like “Super Size Me” . . . um, like in reverse.



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