Monday, May 18, 2009

Corn, Soybeans and Monsanto, Oh My!

Ever really wonder what the heck it is that you're putting into your mouth when you're eating plant-based food? Whether it's food from the grocery store when we're at home, from restaurants and cafeterias when we're at work or school, from baskets in boardrooms, and bowls in front of the telly at friend's homes on movie nights, we're constantly munching on one thing or another. For vegans, the first and main concern is obviously whether the food in question contains animal products. Once that's been covered, though, the only questions that generally concern us are whether the substance in question tastes good, smells good and looks good. Occasionally, we'll wonder what potential it has to additionally pad our arses.

But what about how it was grown?

The USDA has documented the increase in planting of genetically modified (or transgenic / genetically engineered) crops in the US over the past several years. It's somewhat shocking just how large a percentage of the corn, soybeans (and cotton) grown today is actually derived from genetically modified seed. The Ethicurean featured a short article last year about the USDA data. More and more people are becoming aware that the use of genetically modified plants in the North American food supply has been widespread and status quo for many years now, but I wonder if many have any idea that it's reached this magnitude.

Looking at the USDA's charts really drills it home, and makes me even more resolved to continue integrating more and more organic foods into my own diet where it counts. and to educate myself about what's happening. The Organic Consumers Association's website is a fabulous resource for anyone interested in learning the benefits (health, environmental, et al.) of consuming organic products, as well as the potential and proven dangers of perpetuating and consuming genetically modified organisms. The OCA's site also features all the latest news on the biotech industry.

As well, Jeffrey Smith, founder of The Institute for Responsible Technology and author of the bestselling book on GM foods Seeds of Deception has put together a DVD/CD set called The GMO Trilogy that's selling for less than $20 and that he's encouraging people to buy to show at house screenings -- the goal being to expose as many people as possible to the truth behind the biotech industry and how it's endangering the food supply and the very soil from which these genetically modified crops are grown. You can also view and/or listen to them here on Google Video.

Reading all of this also makes me eager to kickstart (albeit somewhat late) my backyard garden again this summer, after. But delving into that's probably left to another post...

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