When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Ordinarily the choice of sharing a poem such as this would be simply to reinforce my belief that man must retreat into nature from time to time for perspective and psychological healing. Or perhaps as poetic underpinning for a beautiful nature photo…after all, this is a photo journal blog! But, today its cry for peace from worry, comes with outrage!
I am the furthest thing you’d find from being a passionate activist about anything. My principle of live and let live has served me comfortably and I tend to let things resolve as they will with minimal attention on my part. You can add to that, I love science and all the wonders that its exploration reveals which we can use for man’s benefit or just for the sheer coolness of the information! I do, I love science. Nor am I anti-business.
Well, this week I have been down with the flu and in between meds and abject misery and in a bleary haze, watching documentaries on NetFlix. I would like to encourage everyone to view the documentary entitled GMO OMG. I am sure that there are others on the topic, but I thought this one covered the issues thoughtfully and without undue hype. The lead-in for the video was Wendell Berry’s poem shown above.
Genetic engineering, in some agricultural schemes, uses genes from bacteria or viruses which are artificially injected into the cellular DNA of plants. These cells are cloned into plants. As an example, some genetically modified corn has a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis in every cell. This gives the corn a built-in pesticide. Did you know that this modified corn is registered as a pesticide? A food is a pesticide? Other crops, such as soy, cotton, and beets, have other bacteria inserted that allow the plant to be resistant to massive amounts of weed killer. They call these crops “RoundUp Ready.” It seems that RoundUp, which I have used to spray on weeds myself, is a highly prevalent choice around the world for crop weed control. “RoundUp Ready” means that you can spray the field with RoundUp and all the plants will die except for the ones you’ve modified to be resistant to the RoundUp. So when you eat corn you are eating a plant classed as a pesticide which may have also been sprayed with RoundUp which didn’t kill it but…is it on/in the food? They say Round Up has been recently found in human urine!!?? Further, the GMO crop method seems to be now producing resistant weeds and bugs.
This is being forced on us with very little choice in the matter. The science part of me would like to think that we can find ways to improve crops in yield and quality. But, like anything science can do the questions is always.. not Can we do it? But, rather Should we do it? I believe this was forced without any real conclusive data of ramifications over time. Even the best of science cannot always predict nature’s response when you alter genes. Although you can rest assured nature will try to survive, hence the resistant weeds and bugs.
I would like to add that the outrage I feel comes from not just the lack of choice, the lack of foresight, and the lack of thorough scientific testing, but from the corporate behaviour of companies like Monsanto. I expect companies to make a profit and I do not necessarily think that corporations are in it for the good of mankind. That is why we are supposed to exert some oversight and proof of safety. Monsanto has ownership of its modified seeds such that a farmer who uses them cannot save seeds from his crop for the next season’s planting. Those seeds belong to Monsanto and can only be planted once. GMO OMG points out cases where a neighboring farmer raising organic non-gmo crops had contamination from airborne pollen from a GMO farmer’s crops. This caused his crop to take on the pesticide characteristics and RoundUp resistance. So guess what? Monsanto has sued such farmers for having the ‘illegal’ GMO plants and forced them to buy their seeds and/or pesticides. I think if it is that easy to contaminate other crops, that is dangerous. What are we doing? I also think the non GMO farmers should be the ones to sue for Monsanto “infecting” their organic crops. That undermines that farmer’s ability to advertise and sell ‘unmodified’ food and compromises further any choice we have. You can’t control what is in the wind can you?
Even poor, desperate Haiti, turned down the 475 tons of seed offer from Monsanto after the Earthquake. They only wanted to have their own seeds….the seeds of life…(not poisonous seeds)……and be able to harvest seeds for the next year’s crop. Monsanto’s free seeds could not be free forever.
While, I’ve been generally trying to choose Non-GMO foods where I had a choice, I think the situation has gone well beyond simply voting with our grocery budget..though we need to keep doing that. If you have a chance, vote for proper food labeling so you will be able to choose. Most of the corn and soy grown in this country is GMO and most of the so called’ healthy’ vegetarian feed given to food animals is made with GMO corn or soybean meal. Not to mention that soy is in everything and corn in many forms such as corn syrup. There seems to be growing evidence of actual harm to humans over time..especially hormonal balance disruptions..probably from the estrogen mimicking qualities of pesticides. There is too much we do not know.
I just want to encourage everyone who has not already, to read up on this as there is much more involved than mentioned here. We need to be very careful with this kind of manipulation and the seeds we sow into the world. Not everything issued into being can be undone. To bring in a semi scientific analogy…just think about what happened with the dinosaurs breeding in the movie/book Jurassic Park?? We think we can control it, but can we? Nature will find a way! The earth shouldn’t become a corporate laboratory and I don’t want me and mine to be guinea pigs!
PS: Regular programming shall resume after the flu! :)