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HEALTH & WELL BEING - November 2008

Moonflower Market to show the film
“The World According to Monsanto”

Moonflower MarketMoonflower Market has a commitment to high quality natural and organic foods. One of the key questions we ask when evaluating new food products is “Is this item made with genetically modified ingredients (GMO’s)?” If the answer is yes we will look for an alternative that uses organic ingredients, or specifically states that the ingredients are non-GMO.

Here is some background for anyone scratching their head and saying what are these granolaheads going on about? Genetic Engineering (GE) is a relatively new technology whose proponents claim will make agriculture sustainable, eliminate world hunger, cure disease, and improve public health. This technology takes genes from non-related species and inserts, recombines, rearranges and reprograms the genetic codes of plants, animals and microorganisms. Food ingredients from GE, or GMO, products are increasing in the USA food supply.

A partial list of GE food crops includes soybeans, corn, potatoes, squash, canola oil, cottonseed oil, tomatoes, and dairy products. Seed for GE crops is considered to be proprietary, and thus is patented. Some GE seed contains a “terminator gene”, which renders the plant incapable of producing viable seed. This means a farmer cannot save their own seed for next year’s crop; they must purchase new seed each year.

Another danger of GE crops lies in their pollen. The traditional methods of plant propagation lie in pollen exchange. Pollen from GE crops can cross pollinate non-GE crops, thus contaminating heirloom and organic crops. In 1999, researchers at Cornell University discovered that the pollen from GE corn was poisonous to Monarch butterflies. There is a growing body of evidence the other beneficial insects are being harmed by GE crops as well.

Genetic modifications are not limited to plant crops. The Monsanto Corporation produced a GE hormone called rBGH in the mid-1990’s, which was approved for injection into dairy cows, in order to induce a higher production of milk. Studies have shown that milk from rBGH cows has higher levels of chemical hormones that can possibly raise cancer risks. There is also an elevated use of antibiotics, since rBGH cows have higher rates of illness. Canada and the EU have both banned the use of rBGH due to safety concerns.

A commonly known example of GE, or GMO, crops is rapeseed, or canola, which has had been genetically altered to resist herbicide usage. These “Roundup Ready” crops can then be sprayed with pesticide more often than non-GE rapeseed. The overuse of pesticides and broad spectrum herbicides, which kill everything green, can be the emergence of “superpests” and “superweeds”. Bugs and weeds will develop greater resistance to the chemicals used to kill them, thus requiring stronger chemicals. A vicious cycle and one that has impacts beyond traditional agriculture, as the biological pest management practices used by organic and sustainable farming may not be able to cope with superbugs.

There are large corporations involved with this technology and they envision using GE to monopolize the global market for seeds, foods, fiber, and medical products. Unfortunately, the United States is lagging behind in recognizing the dangers of GE foods and there is no regulatory oversight of the industry.

There is a growing movement across the natural foods industry to raise awareness about the dangers of the GE industry and create an outcry across the country against the use of GE foods. In Europe consumers refuse to buy GE food, and international food conglomerates have responded by removing GE ingredients from their products.

Moonflower Market believes it is time for the same awareness here in our country and we are sponsoring a showing of the movie “The World According to Monsanto”, with the Canyonlands Film Society, in order to educate the Moab community about the hazards of corporate domination of food production. The film will be shown at Star Hall on Wednesday, November 12, at 7:00 pm. A suggested donation of $2 will be donated to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) garden being developed by the Youth Garden Project and Canyonlands Sustainability Solutions.

Thanks to the Organic Consumers Association, www.organicconsumers.org, for the background information consulted for this article. These folks do great work in creating awareness around the many complicated issues of organic food production and long term sustainability of our economy.

 

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