Hell No, GMO!

I was standing in a long line at the Department of Motor Vehicles a few days ago, killing the time by doing a little people watching. Many of the folks in line were overweight, some even morbidly obese. “Why is obesity worse now than it’s ever been,” I wondered. As we slowly made our way through the corral of black ropes I couldn’t help but feel as if we were all being treated like cattle, which is probably why this unsettling thought popped into my head: Is GMO corn making us fat, too?

After all, GMO corn is used to fatten cattle, so why wouldn’t it have the same effect on humans? As it turns out my instincts were right on the money. There is already a host of disturbing evidence that GMO (genetically modified organism) corn is bad for our health, and the health of the animals that routinely end up on our plates, such as cows, pigs and chickens. Most of the beef, pork and chicken that is for sale in supermarkets has been corn fed, and most of that corn is GMO corn, brought to us by the sociopaths at the Monsanto Corporation. By the way, I’m not calling them sociopaths to be funny. The actual definition of a sociopath is “someone who has little regard for the feeling or welfare of others.” Thanks to the tragic Citizens United ruling, corporations are basically given the same rights as people, and the actions of the Monsanto Corporation have been textbook sociopath.

The International Journal of Biological Sciences released a report that linked the Monsanto Corporations GMO corn to kidney and liver failure in laboratory rats. An excerpt of the report also states “In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted.” The report goes on to mention that GMO corn does in fact lead to weight gain in mice of almost four percent, with an overall average gain of eleven percent in the mice’s livers. So yes, apparently it’s also making us fat. “That’s easy enough to fix,” you may be thinking, “just don’t eat any GMOs.”

GMO corn is hard to avoid because it’s also used to make high fructose corn syrup, which is in almost everything now, from crackers to catsup to colas to cranberry juice to, well, you get the idea. If it is a ready-to-eat, pre-packaged food, it most likely has GMO corn or soy or wheat or all three as one of the ingredients. Even purportedly healthy brands like Kashi have been shown to contain GMO ingredients. GMOs are so ubiquitous that you almost have to grow and raise your own food to really know what you’re eating, at least in the United States. The fact that home gardening in the United States has increased from about 25% in 2007 to the current estimate of almost 40% and rising is both great news and hopefully a wake-up call to those who have the means to garden, but lack the inclination.

Many countries have bans on GMO crops. Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, France, and Peru are just a few, and the number is growing. If it were just Western Europe, or just Japan, or even just little old Peru the ban could be brushed aside as cultural differences, but it seems to be an almost global consensus that GMOs are bad for humans, animals, and the overall health of the planet. Why, then, is the good old U.S.A. not leading the charge in banning these Frankenfoods? Personally, I think it’s because we’ve been moving in the direction of the Citizens Untied ruling for about four decades now, with weak-willed, dishonest politicians giving corporations more and more power as they simultaneously took the teeth out of government watchdog groups like the Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA. It’s our fault, too. We voted these people into office, too often choosing between the lesser of two evils instead of being very clear about what we expect in a public servant.

We need to let our elected officials know that we will replace them if they don’t fight to ban GMOs, and we need to let their replacements know that they get one term to make the necessary changes (or at least fight valiantly to have those changes made) before they too are out on the streets.

Another devastating effect of GMOs is that they destroy biodiversity. Because of industrial agriculture, in which GMOs are an increasingly huge factor, it is estimated that in the last hundred years we have lost over seventy-five percent of genetic diversity in plants. In the meantime, those of us lucky enough to have a small patch of land need to devote as much of it as possible to growing our own food, and our fruits and vegetables need to be heirloom varieties. Your health, and the health of the planet, may very well depend on your home garden.