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No GMO

The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms first came to my attention when I started seeing headlines about lawsuits over patents on corn. While I am generally a fan of technology and I don’t shun things like immunizations, the idea of patented food raised real red flags for me, especially as more cases surfaced of the patent-holding corporations going to court against farmers whose crops were found to contain patented corn DNA without a license (whether the farmers were purposely trying to get around licensing their crops or whether the GMO crops had been inadvertently gotten mixed with the non-GMO crops was under fierce debate).

I’ve just joined the No GMO Challenge with the intent of actively avoiding GMOs for the next thirty days. I’ve been vaguely aware of the issue since those cases I noticed back in the 90s and chose non-GMO options at the store when presented with a clear alternative but I haven’t made a conscious effort to avoid them. Now that I’m specifically on the lookout, it should be informative to see where they might have been slipping in under my radar. I’ve done this kind of experiment before, first with regard to hyrogenated oil and trans fats (thanks to Bruce Cordell bringing it to my attention) and then again with regard to high fructose corn syrup, which is in darn near everything, including your bread!

I keep thinking of that Patton Oswalt bit: “Hi, we’re Science! We’re all about ‘coulda’ not ‘shoulda’.”

30 comments to No GMO

  • I read “Genetically Modified Orgasms.”

    But that’s the day. :D

  • I read “Genetically Modified Orgasms.”

    But that’s the day. :D

  • Thanks! Some good reference stuff here. I have to assess how feasible the challenge is for me right now, but I love the idea.

  • Thanks! Some good reference stuff here. I have to assess how feasible the challenge is for me right now, but I love the idea.

  • thanks for the link. I think I’m going to try this as well. Like you, I’m curious about what might be slipping by unnoticed.

  • thanks for the link. I think I’m going to try this as well. Like you, I’m curious about what might be slipping by unnoticed.

  • I’ll take a look at it too. Thanks.

  • I’ll take a look at it too. Thanks.

  • I think it’s more important to join a community supported agriculture program than it is to filter out buzzy-sounding GMOs. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last couple years, and it’s been a pretty positive move on our part. But the whole anti-GMO movement to me seems a little funny… We’ve been genetically modifying plants for a few thousand years now in an arcane practice called “farming”. But regardless of where you come down on the GMO isse, going with a CSA program is gonna mean you know where your food is from. And that seems to be the real goal here.

  • I think it’s more important to join a community supported agriculture program than it is to filter out buzzy-sounding GMOs. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last couple years, and it’s been a pretty positive move on our part. But the whole anti-GMO movement to me seems a little funny… We’ve been genetically modifying plants for a few thousand years now in an arcane practice called “farming”. But regardless of where you come down on the GMO isse, going with a CSA program is gonna mean you know where your food is from. And that seems to be the real goal here.

    • I too, would recommend searching for a CSA in your neighborhood. We’ve been supporting ours since we moved here and it’s nice having a local organic farmer and local produce to eat. We also get eggs from our farmer’s chickens and really fresh eggs by chickens that spend most of their time in a field are very good.

      However, anything that increases awareness about what one is eating is good, IMO.

      • Yeah, we buy our beef from a farmer up in Pennsylvania and keep the year’s supply in a freezer in our basement; we try to get eggs from a local co-op or through our CSA program when possible. The main challenge at this point is finding a way to get poultry in a morally pleasant fashion without breaking the bank.

      • My Mother’s Day present to myself in 2007 was to sign up for a CSA. I was only moderately satisfied with the results, mostly because the random boxes had variety but not enough of any particular thing to actually make good use of many of the items. It didn’t suit my cooking style. :) However, we are spoiled with wonderful farmer’s markets throughout Seattle, many that run year-round (though our nearest neighborhood one only runs from the end of April to October) and we get local cheese, bread, fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish that way whenever we can.

    • We’ve been genetically modifying plants for a few thousand years now in an arcane practice called “farming”.

      Tsk, tsk, Fred. You should know better than to lecture a Minnesota girl about farming. In my high school years my house was surrounded on all sides by corn fields, and both my prom date and my best girlfriend lived on dairy farms. I detasseled corn as a summer job before I was old enough to get a retail job.

      We’re not talking about farming practices or traditional hybridization but genetic engineering from massively powerful chemical research companies like Monsanto, and their genetically modified products. When companies responsible for creating pesticides and defoliants (like Monsanto’s Roundup and Agent Orange) want to create patented crops that, for example, “terminate” so they will only grow and bear fruit once (necessitating that farmers must buy new seed from the company every year) and that can also potentially cross-contaminate natural crops (potentially resulting in “natural” crops that can no longer naturally reproduce), I consider it kind of a big deal and something to keep an eye on.

      Monsanto is particularly known for both playing fast and loose with laws and regulations, spreading toxins in communities around the world where they have facilities, but also for aggressively going after farmers whose crops have their patented genetic materials in them, whether or not that material ended up there on purpose (see cross-contamination). They really raised my ire when they sued to prevent *other* producers from labeling their non-GMO products (such as milk free of bovine growth hormone) as such.

      Paying close attention and actively and purposefully avoiding GMOs in products sends a money message, which is the kind companies like Monsanto understand. When consumers started demanding organic products and supporting organic with their dollars, we started seeing more organic choices (though there’s still a long way to go on that front as well).

      • Yeah, I know all of that. I’m less bothered by the profit motive and less inclined to take on big agribusiness in that way, at the end of the day, though. Hence the CSA approach as my preference. I’d rather take positive action through local programs; it’s more to my temperament.

        • Fair enough. I think everyone knows I’m more prone to tilting at windmills, fighting the man, not tolerating bullies, and general fightiness than most. Heh.

          • Oh, I’ve TOTALLY got that gene in me too. It’s just that designer crops don’t bother me when separated from the businesses making them. A designer crop made by a small-business outfit? I’m totally there. A designer crop made by a corporate giant? I’m more bothered by the corporate giantness than I am by the designer cropness.

            So I think you and I can agree that Monsanto has a bit of the evil in it, at least, even if we’re bothered by different parts of their practice. The way I want to send the message you’re talking about isn’t by stopping doing something (no longer buying designer crops), it’s by starting doing something (buying from my CSA).

  • I’m pretty sure you’re not a soda drinker, but I heard on NPR yesterday that Pepsi is releasing Pepsi Throwback and Mt Dew Throwback, both of which use cane sugar rather than corn syrup. Unfortunately, it’s only out on the market through May, I believe. It’s a test run to see how people like it, and if it’ll sell enough to be a money maker. It may or may not be in your area.

  • I’m pretty sure you’re not a soda drinker, but I heard on NPR yesterday that Pepsi is releasing Pepsi Throwback and Mt Dew Throwback, both of which use cane sugar rather than corn syrup. Unfortunately, it’s only out on the market through May, I believe. It’s a test run to see how people like it, and if it’ll sell enough to be a money maker. It may or may not be in your area.

    • With branding like “throwback”, I’m not sure they’re giving it much of a fair shake. I would have chosen the moniker “Pure” — “Pepsi Pure” has a good sound to it.

  • I too, would recommend searching for a CSA in your neighborhood. We’ve been supporting ours since we moved here and it’s nice having a local organic farmer and local produce to eat. We also get eggs from our farmer’s chickens and really fresh eggs by chickens that spend most of their time in a field are very good.

    However, anything that increases awareness about what one is eating is good, IMO.

  • Yeah, we buy our beef from a farmer up in Pennsylvania and keep the year’s supply in a freezer in our basement; we try to get eggs from a local co-op or through our CSA program when possible. The main challenge at this point is finding a way to get poultry in a morally pleasant fashion without breaking the bank.

  • With branding like “throwback”, I’m not sure they’re giving it much of a fair shake. I would have chosen the moniker “Pure” — “Pepsi Pure” has a good sound to it.

  • We’ve been genetically modifying plants for a few thousand years now in an arcane practice called “farming”.

    Tsk, tsk, Fred. You should know better than to lecture a Minnesota girl about farming. In my high school years my house was surrounded on all sides by corn fields, and both my prom date and my best girlfriend lived on dairy farms. I detasseled corn as a summer job before I was old enough to get a retail job.

    We’re not talking about farming practices or traditional hybridization but genetic engineering from massively powerful chemical research companies like Monsanto, and their genetically modified products. When companies responsible for creating pesticides and defoliants (like Monsanto’s Roundup and Agent Orange) want to create patented crops that, for example, “terminate” so they will only grow and bear fruit once (necessitating that farmers must buy new seed from the company every year) and that can also potentially cross-contaminate natural crops (potentially resulting in “natural” crops that can no longer naturally reproduce), I consider it kind of a big deal and something to keep an eye on.

    Monsanto is particularly known for both playing fast and loose with laws and regulations, spreading toxins in communities around the world where they have facilities, but also for aggressively going after farmers whose crops have their patented genetic materials in them, whether or not that material ended up there on purpose (see cross-contamination). They really raised my ire when they sued to prevent *other* producers from labeling their non-GMO products (such as milk free of bovine growth hormone) as such.

    Paying close attention and actively and purposefully avoiding GMOs in products sends a money message, which is the kind companies like Monsanto understand. When consumers started demanding organic products and supporting organic with their dollars, we started seeing more organic choices (though there’s still a long way to go on that front as well).

  • My Mother’s Day present to myself in 2007 was to sign up for a CSA. I was only moderately satisfied with the results, mostly because the random boxes had variety but not enough of any particular thing to actually make good use of many of the items. It didn’t suit my cooking style. :) However, we are spoiled with wonderful farmer’s markets throughout Seattle, many that run year-round (though our nearest neighborhood one only runs from the end of April to October) and we get local cheese, bread, fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish that way whenever we can.

  • Yeah, I know all of that. I’m less bothered by the profit motive and less inclined to take on big agribusiness in that way, at the end of the day, though. Hence the CSA approach as my preference. I’d rather take positive action through local programs; it’s more to my temperament.

  • Fair enough. I think everyone knows I’m more prone to tilting at windmills, fighting the man, not tolerating bullies, and general fightiness than most. Heh.

  • Oh, I’ve TOTALLY got that gene in me too. It’s just that designer crops don’t bother me when separated from the businesses making them. A designer crop made by a small-business outfit? I’m totally there. A designer crop made by a corporate giant? I’m more bothered by the corporate giantness than I am by the designer cropness.

    So I think you and I can agree that Monsanto has a bit of the evil in it, at least, even if we’re bothered by different parts of their practice. The way I want to send the message you’re talking about isn’t by stopping doing something (no longer buying designer crops), it’s by starting doing something (buying from my CSA).