Go rent it on iTunes. Please. It will change how you think about what you put in your body.
The issue of food security is not something to be taken lightly. Neither is the issue of food transparency. GMO OMG, a documentary on the prevalence of genetically modified foods around the world, is a really accessible look at what is happening with our food supply. We have a right to know what’s coming into our bodies, and as Jeremy Seifert - GMO OMG’s writer, director and narrator - adeptly puts it, we have the right to be able to choose whether or not we participate. (I’d add, especially if this food culture may be slowly poisoning us all.)
I first wrote about GMOs on this blog last fall, following a conference presentation by Jeffrey M. Smith from the Institute for Responsible Technology. GMOs are foods that have been manipulated to kill insects, resist herbicides, or grow at a tremendously unnatural rate. They are everywhere, and if you’ve followed the news of the last year, few states require labeling of these ingredients in products. The film explores what these ‘advances’ in agriculture might mean for our health, our planet and our ability to continue to feed ourselves for decades to come.
Corn that is genetically modified to produce a pesticide and kill bugs can’t be good for the human body: when we eat that corn (or eat the flesh of an animal that ate that corn), we ingest the pesticide.
Soy that has been genetically modified to withstand tons of herbicide will not be free of that herbicide when we consume it. I prefer my tempeh without the side of Roundup, thanks.
The idea of eating salmon that has been engineered to grow at four times its natural rate is just unnerving.
As the film explains, the research continues to determine what the long-term effects of these products will be, but preliminary studies on rats exposed to GMO feed shows that the outcome doesn’t look good. The findings suggest that kids raised on modified, pesticide-laden food should expect to see cancer growth skyrocket in their 30s and 40s. I know in my world, that has definitely been a trend: I know far too many barely middle-aged adults who’ve had a run in with cancer. Coincidence?
I have a gigantic fear that, as a species, we are going to run out of food. We do some pretty terrible things to one another and to our planet, and it scares me to my core that we might be science-ing our way into a future where food is simply not available. GMO OMG digs into the impact of our agriculture system, which each year becomes more altered to fit our ‘growing demand for more food’. Sounds noble, but is it?
The argument for GMOs is that this practice will allow commercial farms to ‘feed the planet’, and that without the high yields genetically modified crops provide, we wouldn’t have enough food. I have a couple of issues with this:
1. As the film addresses, the US produces 4000 calories worth of food per person per day. That is twice as much as anyone needs.
2. Corn and soy - the two crops that are the most in question, although by no means the only ones - are for the most part not being fed directly to humans. They are being turned into feed for cattle, pigs and chickens, which are then turned into food for humans. It seems to me like a one-ton cow needs more corn than a human; wouldn’t we have more food to go around if we removed one step in the middle?
3. The GMO crops produced in such high yield are not being shipped to the world’s impoverished nations, so the argument that this is ‘feeding the planet’ is a little far fetched to me. These foods, which have been shown to cause massive tumors (and I don’t doubt also contribute to an array of health problems new to the 20th century), underlie the over-fed, under-nourished Western population.
4. The quality of what we’re feeding ourselves as a species should matter. Never mind that there’s more of it: if the food we’re eating is coated in poison, no amount is good (and I’d argue, more of it is worse).
The film also addresses the political and economic side of agriculture: what it means for farms to be dying off, slowly replaced by corporations. It's a really terrific conversation starter and a good look at how our priorities might be out of line. What would happen if we revered farmers like we revere money? I wonder...
What we can do instead?
Buy organic. Support smaller farms. The film illuminates the research of the Rodale Institute, which has proved that organic is sustainable on a longer-term scale and that it can produce a yield as high - if not higher - than conventional agriculture.
Get educated. Check out the Non-GMO Project. Sign a petition to make labeling mandatory in your state.
Eat like you care. Make informed choices. Health - yours, your kids’, the planet's - depend on it.
Last October's FTGU GMO post: http://fromthegroundupwellness.com/musings/the-down-low-on-non-gmo-2/