Justice Begins with (Non-GMO) Seeds

As the Justice Begins with Seeds conference kicks-off in San Francisco, it’s a good time for a reminder about some of the reasons that we are concerned about genetically engineered (GMO) food.

For example, there is increasing concern that allergies may occur unintentionally as a result of genetic tinkering. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine as early as 1996 noted that certain allergies from GMO foods would be “uncertain, unpredictable, and untestable.” More recently, Friends of the Earth exposed results from an experimental GMO pea that showed new allergies could arise unexpectedly even from genetic alterations between closely related plants. Their report noted that FDA requires no allergy testing before GMO crops are allowed into the food chain.

GMO foods could also have toxic effects in our diets. A lab experiment showed unexpectedly high levels of a toxin in yeast following gene-splicing, and scientists still don’t know why a GMO dietary supplement killed 39 people and permanently disabled 1500 more.  More diseases that resist treatment with common antibiotics may be created by the biotech industry’s continued use of antibiotic-resistance genes in GMO crops, despite industry’s promises to end this practice more than a decade ago.

These should be reasons enough for food makers to avoid putting GMOs into our food, but since GMO foods are not labeled in the US (as they are in Europe, Japan, Russia, and dozens of other countries), consumers never know when a new, risky GMO comes to market. That’s why we’re asking you to get the truth about our food by asking food makers to reject Monsanto’s new pesticide-laced GMO corn.


It seems that not a day goes by without a new story of GMOs creating problems for farmers, food companies, and consumers – not to mention the environment. Just this summer scientists reported that Monsanto’s GMO “insect-resistant” corn wasn’t resisting insects. Seems the little buggers are developing resistance to the insecticidal corn – meaning farmers are paying more for a GMO product that offers them no benefit. Even Monsanto’s hometown newspaper noted that scientists (and environmentalists) have long warned that this would happen, and that EPA ignored policy proposals that would have hurt Monsanto’s sales when they approved growing the company’s corn.

The insect resistance stories follow years of scientific reports demonstrating the failure of the other major GMO crop variety, the “herbicide-tolerant” crops that are designed to survive large doses of plant poisons.  Just as insects are developing resistance, weeds have evolved to withstand spraying of the supposedly “safer” toxic herbicides used with GMOs, so farmers are now paying $1 billion a year to add more older, more potent chemicals to spray on our food.

It’s time for a food system that focuses science on the kind of safe, organic, just and sustainably-produced food that people want, and not on more risky genetic food experiments! Shortly following the Justice Begins with Seeds conference will be some exciting new developments in the movement against GMO food. Keep tuned for ways to get involved!