Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook (yes, I write under a pseudonym, sorta – nobody can pronounce Johnson in Polish even after it was Americanized) knows that I like to cook and garden. There is something about growing things and cooking that satisfies me. It probably stems from the countless happy hours I spent as a child with my grandfather in the garden and grandmother in the kitchen.
When I heard about a new apple last month I cringed at the idea of another “frankenfood” but after a little research discovered this one was not so bad and thought it was time that I took a serious look at the debate.
According to the FDA, humans have been selective breeding plants and animals ever since we started producing our own food and I found that to be pretty accurate. Just look at the potato, corn, rice, wheat or tomato. While the average American supermarket may be a mono-culture of banality, for anyone who knows where to get them the choices are pretty overwhelming and all due to our selective breeding of a few original species. Right now I’ve got three different kinds of rice in my cupboard and three different tomatoes in my winter garden (us lucky desert dwellers)!
Credible evidence has demonstrated that foods from the GE plant varieties marketed to date are as safe as comparable, non-GE foods.
So what are these “frankenfoods” that seems to get everyone all worked up? Well, this is where it gets scary if you ask me. I’ve got no problem cross pollinating and breeding for specific traits but what some scientists are doing in the lab is pretty outrageous. Called transgenics, it is a method where genes are taken from one organism and inserted into another to produce or suppress specific traits. Sounds harmless huh? Not really.
A concern, about whether transgenic crops cause damage to the natural environment. One example that includes pollen from transgenic corn, which has capacity to kill the Monarch butterfly larvae. It has been shown that hybrid corn expresses a bacterial toxin in its pollen, which is then dispersed over 60 m by wind. In this range, the corn pollen is deposited on other plants near cornfields, where it can be ingested by non-target organisms including the monarch butterfly which leads to their death.
I was blessed to live in the migration path of the Monarch butterfly for a time and when thousands of them landed all over my garden and house it was a transcendental experience. The thought of inadvertently killing off these beautiful creatures is where the real problem lies with GMOs. Humans are not all knowing and make mistakes, we are not God. No matter how well intended the goals of companies like Monsanto and others are, they nor any agency can fully appreciate, predict or control all possible outcomes. Lets face it, when your inserting toxins into any food supply there are going to be disastrous outcomes that will effect one species or another.
For me, I’m going to stick with the tried and true, avoiding GMOs when ever possible, support informative labeling, and just say no to foods cooked up anyplace other than a loving kitchen.