Genetically Modified Organisms have become ubiquitous in American agriculture over the past decade. At least eighty percent, or more of all corn and soybeans grown in the US are now GMO. Many of these seed strains have genes inserted that make the crop tolerate herbicide application. The crops are touted by their makers as the answer to global hunger and starvation.

The producers of these seeds also manufacture the herbicides that these crops are engineered to tolerate while owning the seed companies that they are sold through. There has been so much consolidation in the seed industry that just four companies: Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto own or control the vast majority of the seed companies in the world. All indications are that these companies intend to control the world food supply. There is so much money involved that the USDA, FDA and politicians have been silenced.  Why is it that no anti-trust actions have been taken? It is disconcerting that these crops are approved on the fast track with little safety testing, despite significant public demand for closer scrutiny.

Claims of bumper yields have not been realized in the long term. In fact yields have declined recently as super weeds emerge that are resistant to glyphosate, (Roundup), leading to increased applications of the herbicide and the introduction of crops resistant to 2, 4 D, a much more potent herbicide. Remember “agent orange”?

The earliest clinical trials and more recent studies have shown GMO foods to cause health problems. Certainly, increased applications of herbicides cannot be a good thing for the environment. We already know how industrialized agriculture is affecting water quality: endocrine disruption in the Everglades and massive “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico. Native corn in the state of Oxaca, Mexico where corn originates from has shown the presence of trans-genes and the potential contamination of the entire corn genome. The chemical companies always claim their products are safe for you and the environment. How often has this proven not to be true? Remember DDT?

One of the biggest issues is that the companies that produce these organisms are not liable for the damage they may cause. Currently, if a farmer’s alfalfa unintentionally were to show the presence of trans-genes he could be sued by the producers of the genes for patent infringement. This scenario would be doubly damaging for certified GMO free and organic producers who would lose their ability to sell their crop as “organic” and GMO free. This is not only extremely unfair but it is un-American. The way the law is structured; there is no motivation for these companies to contain their Franken genes.

Fortunately, Colorado and other states have taken the first step in the fight against GMO foods by asking voters if they would like to know what is actually in the food they eat. Vote in November to LABEL GMO FOOD. Vote YES on 105!

The second step is to ban GMO crop production in Saguache County and eventually in the entire SLV. This would create a GMO Free Zone that is protected by geological formations from the intrusion of trans-genes. This step would provide protection for producers that wish to stay GMO free, (many countries ban the import of GMO commodities), as well as the significant number of organic producers in our valley. A GMO free zone could lead to a robust industry in GMO free seed production. Other producers, businesses and individuals that wish to locate in a “clean, protected” environment and among those who share their views on sustainability and environmental stewardship could bring economic growth to our area.

Join in a discussion of these issues Oct. 22 at 5:30 PM following the NSLVCR regular meeting at the Saguache County Road and Bridge headquarters. Do the GMO two-step!

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