We Shall Reap What We Sow

Cypress Snowy 5321-c-wps

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.

Wendell Berry


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!


With Concern,


PS: Regular programming shall resume after the flu! 🙂

~ by Judy on November 10, 2014.

16 Responses to “We Shall Reap What We Sow”

  1. Judy, please read this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/us/on-hawaii-a-lonely-quest-for-facts-about-gmos.html?_r=0

    • Thanks for sharing the article with its well defined arguments on both sides of the issues. I had been aware of the GMO papayas of Hawaii and the fruit virus it prevented. I am also understanding of the situation that farmers are in trying to find ways to increase yield in order to make a living. It isn’t right to work for or against issues by blanket exclusions or unfounded statements. I don’t believe everything said either way on this. What I feel basically is that the jury is still out and how do we find out how things might mutate without exposing people, animals, plants etc to it without causing harm or learning the hard way. How do you reconcile the motive to produce quantity over quality? For awhile I have felt that we would be better off with more small farms raising quality food than with the mass produced volume of goods we see now. I kind of feel that convenience is valued over everything else and that high volumes of cheap but insubstantial food are the order of the day. Some of the technology just seems aimed there.

      I am not sure I equate the engineering with the papaya virus with engineering corn to put off pesticide so it can kill its own insects. I can’t logically see my way around that being good in the long run . That is one reason I confined my post to the RoundUp Ready and Corn GMO situation. Studies seem to show that some of these methods only work at first and are not effective long term. We need to know more about long term.

      The thing with the rats being said they would have gotten tumors anyway. I read that the same breed of rats were used for Monsanto’s studies. Except Monsanto stopped at 3 months and the other study went longer. Rat studies do not always equate to humans….as in the Saccharin studies.

      I don’t know enough to fully engage on the science. I just feel that as a consumer I want to know what studies were done, how long they went on, what the unexpected side effects observed were, etc before I decide to eat it. My personal inclination at the moment is simply to avoid it where I can.

      Of course, it will be a marketing tool for the organic industry. Now you see products which were always gluten free, never had it on the label because people were not concerned, now its on the label because people care and it is a decision point. Same thing is happening with Non-GMO.

      Not pretending to know anything definitive here…..only not wanting to be railroaded into an—–oh whoops future!! Plus I just see the ownership of genes a real murky thing. Its really kind of mind blowing..sci fi turned real and yet we accept it like it is the most natural thing.

      Sorry for the long answer though and appreciate your sharing the article. Might read through it again as it had quite a bit of detail.

    • I just wanted to add that luckily the other documentaries I watched were about the Beatles, their loyal secretary Freda, and the history of the Eagles. Hard to get any dander up over great music!!

  2. Although I’ve not seen this particular video, I’ve seen several others in like vein – which makes the blood in my veins boil. I’d recommend watching the John Bergman (chiropractic) videos on YouTube. I can’t specify which is most relevant, because in one way or another, they all are. He’s hard-hitting in his criticism of GMO agri-business and the resultant pollutant effects on our bodies. He also offers some self-protection solutions. For myself, I’ve totally cut all grains, gluten-loaded or not. I try to buy organic, but in a small town it’s not always on offer. While the problem is widespread throughout the world, I do feel that America probably has it worst (not to say we in the UK aren’t affected, yet there has been much political action versus the GMO movement and much of our food is now labelled as GMO free.).

    • All we can really do is read up, be aware, and make personal choices according to our best understanding and sense of logic. It is difficult for non-scientists to really interpret data though and you don’t want to discourage progress out of hand. Yet, it is the duty of those that oversee the safety of our food supply to wait for results before opening any doors.

  3. It’s an unfortunate sea change since 2000, when StarLink corn, which was unapproved for human consumption, began turning up in human food supplies. THAT TIME, the company whose GMO corn contaminated other fields had to pay damages. How Monsanto gets away with suing farmers is beyond me.

    • Maybe the previous caveat was that it was ‘not approved for human consumption’ so it turning up in ‘human food’ was a liability best reconciled quickly. Now, they have the upper hand with an approved engineered product which they don’t want to lose control of and must maintain precedent. Fair play, however, is not part of their equation.

  4. I agree with you Judy..The problem is also that Monsanto has key politicians in its pocket and has managed to keep consumers from knowing they are eating GMO’s. A year or so ago I signed and sent a prewritten letter asking Mark Rubio to support legislation that would have these products labeled. He wrote back to me that he as my Senator , did not feel it was in the best interests of consumers to have that information! Wonder how much Monsanto contributed to his campaign and how many $90,000 hunting trips they have sent him on. It’s all about power and the dollar.

    • That is very disappointing actually! Doesn’t matter to me if you are conservative or liberal, everyone has the right to know what they are putting in their body…period. Particularly, items with switched up genes for which much is yet to be learned. It IS in every consumer’s best interest even if not in the best interest of Monsanto for the consumer to know. I regard the labeling as at least a breathing space where we can choose to be cautious all the while gathering more information. Maybe we’d find that what they do to stop the ring virus on the Hawaiian papayas is safe and acceptable (not saying it is) while making corn which puts off bug-killing pesticides isn’t acceptable or is plain dangerous to the human body. And, why something would be ok to feed animals if not ok for humans makes zero sense. We eat the animals and what they eat, we eat.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. So surprising, saying consumers won’t benefit from knowing is the exact same thinking that Scientific American reported in an article I read once that we were told all fats were bad for us because we were too stupid to know the difference between a good fat and a bad fat. We have dementia, diabetes, and obesity as the consequence of that thinking.

  5. It seems to me that what we’re going through with GMOs and corporate farming generally is exactly what has been happening with Obamacare (and who knows what else?) The assumption is that we are subjects, and “they” have the right to make decisions for our lives. Any concerns we might have, any questioning we do, simply is dismissed.

    Another problem we have is that the issues are so complex, even without corporate obfuscation. It takes time, and energy, to understand GMOs. The same goes for health care, immigration, climate change, cultural changes, and so on. No one can be an expert in every field, and it’s becoming harder and harder to know who to trust. Clearly, the government isn’t it.

    So, yes. I share your concern. I check my groceries. I have moved almost completely away from processed food, and buy from local growers when possible. But it isn’t always possible, and while I don’t think I have enough years left for the “whatevers on or in the food” to kill me, I don’t want younger people and children poisoned by our own agriculture. As you say — everyone has the right to know what they are putting into their bodies.

    Now, if you really want to get upset, we could talk about what happens to chickens, cows and pigs in this country. Sigh.

    • Here’s a link to a friend’s blog. It’s called Practicing Resurrection, and the page I’m linking here will give you a good start. It’s especially good because Bill has provided some internal links to other posts. You can use the search box to look for “seeds,” “farming,” and anything else of interest to you. He’s probably addressed it.

    • I started out kind of innocently just trying to avoid soy…not thinking GMOs them but just needed to take care of my thyroid situation. Finding out how that ingredient has been insinuated into so many, many products made me realize that if its cheap to make and welcomed on the label (people thinking its healthy) then it is chosen widely. They didn’t bother to find out that so much soy, probably healthy in limited amounts, has negative consequences. Just made me realize if you leave it to food manufacturers and businesses that you will get what they perceive they can sell.

      GMOs are not welcomed on the label as too many people would probably choose a product without that if they could. So you leave it off the label.

      I agree wholeheartedly for more than the GMO issue that we are better off sticking close to real food and away from processed. Better off encouraging local farmers instead of utter reliance on big agriculture. Aside from the motives of politicians or the Monsanto’s of the world, we as consumers have allowed our desire for convenience to create a certain apathy as regards our daily nutritional choices. We need to actively choose better and we do need proper labeling to achieve that.

      Your point is correct too that its not just our generation to think about. Our generation has paid a price with the misinformation about fats and carbs, lets not lead the next generation down another path the results of which they’d see when the are older. We have good science; we don’t have to make these mistakes.

    • Thanks will visit!

  6. Judy it is a global problem and we will pay for what these scientists create. I am hoping it turns people into avid back yard gardeners, where everything you grow, you know where its come from . What ever happen to the safe thought that anything out of the ground is better for you than something that is packaged?

  7. Totally with you. GMO products should be clearly labelled.

  8. Wonderful that you’re writing about this… I honestly have no words for what we’ve done — and continue to allow — with the GMOs. The devastation of ecosystems; the decimation of MANY species (including our lovely Monarchs); the destruction of traditional farming (IE, punishing those who opt or CAN, barely, financially go GMO-free)… The list is appalling. States are slowly fighting the monster, but we need continued education and awareness. THANKS!!!

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